Don's diary

September 17, 1999

Friday

Make it to my rented study at about 10am. Have just begun the final revision of my thesis, with a view to finishing on September 4 (the last, I hope, of many projected deadlines). I am not making any structural changes now, bar the most necessary, but I am trying to refine the style as much as possible, make sure my arguments are clear, and lose a few words here and there. And there are still several things to look up. Continue until 7pm. This is earlier than usual as we have friends for supper. Since my social life has for many months been almost non-existent, this is an exciting event.

Saturday

To my study at about 11am. Chapter one is progressing slowly. As it was the first (and worst) thing I wrote, it had to be almost completely rewritten at first revision stage, and is now a step behind everything else. Continue until about 8.30pm.

Sunday

Normally I never work on Sundays, but needs must, so to my study at midday, pausing on the way to chat to my local delicatessen owner, who is looking tanned and refreshed after three weeks in his native Italy. Feel very jealous. Revision progresses slowly, as I struggle with a particularly intractable patch of footnotes. Home about 8pm. After supper, the video is set for one of my weekly treats, Larry Sanders, which begins too late for ascetics like me.

Monday

To my study at about 10am. Into the Courtauld this afternoon to collect a large batch of photographs to use as illustrations. Gathering these is time consuming and expensive: I have 105 illustrations and need three of each, for three copies of my thesis. That said, it is satisfying to think that I can produce something visually interesting, and I am looking forward to the day when I mount them all, as it will be the last thing I do before sending my opus to the binders.

Then into the Warburg to look for an exhibition catalogue. It is not there, so when I get home I fax a kind colleague at the University of Louvain, an expert in Netherlandish humanism, to ask if she can send me a copy. We have never met but, like the humanists about whom I am writing, we have an epistolary relationship. Over the past year she has patiently answered many queries.

Watch Larry Sanders.

Tuesday

Revising all day. Until a few weeks ago I was feeling very torn between producing a thesis that is as good as it can reasonably be and that justifies four years' work, and finishing, but now I just want to finish.

Wednesday

Revising all day.

Thursday

Revising all day. I really cannot wait for normal life to begin again, though I can barely remember what it is. In the evening my second weekly television treat, The Sopranos.

Kate Bomford is completing a doctoral thesis at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, on the visual representation of friendship among humanists in early modern Netherlands.

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