Letter 12 from Waguih Ghali to Diana Athill on December 4, 1963
Ghali begins by trying to console Diana about what he perceives as her recent writer's block/depression. He empathizes with the feeling of not being able to write anything and tells her that once he starts writing he cannot stop because otherwise he hits a wall. He further empathizes with the feeling of loneliness and failure that he has had on and off since he was 18 years old. His job is taking away a sense of despair rooted in insecurity that he has always had, but he fears this loss of despair will result in a loss of mental stimulation as well. He received a letter from Engle in Iowa telling him that he could possibly finance his trip to America if no one else has the rights to his next book yet. Ghali is displeased with this because he does not want to be tied to anyone and be pressured to write his second book. He wants to visit England, but thinks Christmas time would be difficult since all of his friends would be scattered around, so he wants to come when Diana publishes his book and spend time with her then. Ghali is confused with his friend, Anthony's recent decision to marry but lead a separate life from his wife. Ghali does not understand the point of this. He tells Diana that he bought “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” and was happy to find out it was published in Russia, because he loves Russia. He attributes this to his heroes all being Russian, Chekhov, Lenin, Gorky, and Dostoevsky. He calls Lenin the most genius of men to ever live, and Russians to be human, emotional, and unpredictable people. He notes the similarities between Egyptians, especially Copts, and Russians. Ghali ends with his explanation that he often gets into the contemplative, existential mood and feels everything wasting away.
Letter, 3 pagesPersonal names mentioned in the letter: Engle; Dr. Abraham; One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich (by Alexander Solzhenitsyn) Anton Chekhov; Vladimir Lenin; Maxim Gorky; Dostoyevsky; Isaac Deutscher;