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The Diary of Samuel Pepys Hardcover – Large Print, Aug 20 2008
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'Let Pepys' Diary fall open at almost any page at random and he is joyously and compulsively quotable.' Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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“One of our greatest historical records . . . a major work of English literature.” —Paul Johnson --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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His eyewitness accounts of the Plague (1665) and the Great Fire (1666) in London are riveting. But it is the description of quotidian events that sheds light on how the people lived. Moving easily among different social classes, he recorded their moods and diversions. He attended public executions of regicides (complete with display of heads and organs to a cheering crowd), and noted when initial enthusiasm for the restoration of the monarchy gave way to disillusionment; when anger at the King's debauchery and neglect of state business bred nostalgia for the reign of Oliver Cromwell.
While critical of the King's and the Court's incessant "gambling and whoring", Pepys himself was no paragon of virtue.Read more ›
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Samuel Pepys (pronounced 'peeps') is a human, funny, moody man who has his ups and downs like the rest of us. His narrative during the plague records his concern about neighbors, and his real sorrow when people he knows succumb to it. He also records his experiences during the great fire of London in 1666 and his first mention of it strikes me as entirely human - he says that his maids wake him as they have heard of the fire and as it is not near his doorstep he simply goes back to bed as he's tired. He has arguments with his wife, and has cast a lusty eye upon the kings mistress for years! He also has, what I call 'mini affairs' where he kisses and fondles women quite regularly, (including his own maids) and seems to have no guilt about this whatsoever. Most mornings he 'drinks' his breakfast and at one point is outraged that his new wig is teeming with nits! An historical and very human read. Makes me realise that after 450 years we are all no different at all........
I have read in and out of the Pepys' diary more than once. I did this in part because I have read many times that they are the ' best diaries' ever written. Without contending with that I found that they were not for me the most interesting. This probably shows more about my own shortcomings than it does about the work of Pepys.
Pepys' work is filled with description of the life of the time. It is rich in perception of the great city of London in Restoration times. It is filled with personal anecdote, gossip including that relating to his prodigious sexual appetite and activity. It is a busy, businesslike work. And it tells more about a world outside than a world in.
In the diaries I most love there is the quest of the soul to deeply understand itself and its relation to other people, and God. I find that the flurry of activity in the life of Pepys does not lead to this kind of reflectiveness. And thus for me the 'diary' is not a highly significant work personally.
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