The Daily Rituals of Great Writers


Banging out some Tom Ripley before breakfast.

At the Literary Review, key sentences from a review of a book aptly entitled Daily Rituals:

Food is often of little importance, mere brain fuel. Patricia Highsmith lived on vodka, cereal and bacon and eggs.

For stimulants, again and again, it’s just tea and coffee, rarely alcohol, let alone anything else. Balzac drank fifty cups of coffee a day and so did Voltaire. The latter’s doctor warned him that it was a slow poison, at which Voltaire quipped that it must be, since he’d been drinking it for seventy years. He also liked to work in bed, as did Descartes, who hated rising early. Unfortunately he took a job teaching philosophy to Queen Christina of Sweden, was commanded to be ready to start her lessons at 5am and was dead of pneumonia within weeks.

Its conclusion?

A key component of genius is sheer energy, and that requires health and self-discipline…Bohos on self-destruct might write a few exquisite fleurs du mal, but they are rare.


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