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2012-07-06 11:58:08 (UTC)

Samuel Pepys and Me: A world on the move......

Part 1:

I have often mentioned in the two decades that I have been keeping a diary and writing a great deal of poetry,1992 to 2012, that the most useful part of my diary is my poetry. I have written more than 7000 poems, several million words in the 20 years since 1992, and they tell more of my life than my diary. It is quite appropriate, therefore, for this statement, this personal reflection, on the diary of Samuel Pepys(1633-1703) to be written in the form of a prose-poem.

I’m not sure when I first heard or read about this famous English diarist, but I don’t think I came across his work before my retirement from FT employment in mid-1999 and PT work in 2003, some 300 years after the death of Pepys. On the 4th of July 2012, in the afternoon after: a take-away, a swim, a spa, a short walk, and a small Chinese meal while my wife was shopping, I chanced upon Pepys’ diary. This self-made man kept his diary from 1659 to 1669.

Part 2:

Readers can easily read about Pepys and his diary, and so I will not write in detail about this work with facts that can be easily obtained by readers. I will write, though, about aspects of this man’s life and his famous diary after seeing all ten volumes, plus an index in volume 11, in a far corner of this modern library in far-off Tasmania. I am writing about what seems to have an especial relevance to me and my diaristic, memoiristic, prose-poetic writing.

For about one hour on a spacious first floor of the Launceston library where people read newspapers and work at free state library-provided computer-facilities----I read parts of the introduction to The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Vol. 1-1660, eds. R. Latham and W. Matthews, G. Bell and Sons Ltd., London, 1973(1970).(1)

Part 3:

I wrote a few notes and photocopied one page of that introduction. I am drawing on these notes as I write this reflection on a man and his diary, notes from this 3100 page, 1 and ¼ million word, 11 volume work, one of the great classics of literature.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Robert Latham, The Diarist: The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol. 1-1660, 4 July 2012.

You wrote of your vices in great detail,
Samuel….your obsession with morality
was much more than mine, although the
diaristic informality and self-revelation
of your work is, I think, easily matched
by my own. You had no model for your
work, but I have many a model in our 21
--st century & its burgeoning production
of literary works especially in cyberspace.

Nothing human was alien to you and I like
to think this is true of me, as both of us are
writing at the best of times and the worst of
times in our history.1 We see the world on the
move into modern times2 in your voluminous
work and, I like to think, the world will see in
mine the movement, during these epochs of this
new Faith,3 into the light of public recognition.

It was a glaring light from the obscurity in which
it had languished & from which it slowly emerged
in the years, before and during, the first 2 decades
of my own diary and poetry in those fin de siecle
years & the 21st century when the world-wide-web
was born for humanity-little by little & day by day.4

1 Brooke Allen in his essay The Irrepressible Pepys, New Criterion, Vol. 21, No.5, January 2003 says that Pepys wrote at “the most interesting time in British history.” His diary was an expression of his vanity and his love of life; it was a bi-product of his energetic pursuit of happiness; the process of recording resulted in the heightening and extending of his enjoyment; his concern for neatness helped to reduce the quotidian chaos to order and tidy literary summation.(R. Latham, op. cit., p.xxviii)

2 idem

3 the Baha’i Faith

4 A century and a half of obscurity: from 1844 to 1994.

Ron Price
6/7/'12 to 31/12/'12.