Reasonable Words: Wonderful Diaries

I have been savoring Ronald Blythe‘s The Pleasures of Diaries, a compilation of wonderful excerpts, collected by a fine writer in his own right, and one with a great ear. So many tidbits worth sharing. For example, here’s Blythe’s intro to Samuel Johnson’s diary.

Johnson’s Diary evokes compassion. Here, simply exposed, is the pathology of a virtuous and brilliant man. His Dictionary says that a diary has to be ‘an account of the transactions, accidents, and observations of every day’–which suggests something less profound than what he attempted. Yet no one heeded more the advice he gave to his friends when he urged them to keep diaries in which ‘the great thing to be recorded is the state of your mind.’ His own diary is above all the troubled record of a greatly troubled mind.

Here is an excerpt from the diary itself (Tetty, refers to the middle-aged widow whom Johnson married when he was 27, and was devoted to, somewhat to the mystification of his friends.)

18 September 1760. Resolved D. j. (with God’s aid)

To combat notions of obligation

To apply to Study.

To reclaim imagination.

To consult the resolves on Tetty’s coffin.

To rise early.

To study Religion.

To go to Church.

To drink less strong liquors.

To keep Journal.

To oppose laziness, by doing what is to be done.

To morrow

Rise as early as I can.

Send for books for Hist. of war.

Put books in order.

Scheme life.

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Johnson, Goldsmith and Boswell, scheming life.

Reasonable Words: David Tennant and Hamlet

It’s taken me a while to catch up with “Shakespeare Uncovered” from BBC4 and on PBS in the U.S. Just took in the Hamlet episode, presented by David Tennant, which does double duty as a fine intro for anybody learning about the play (or teaching it) but also a vivid teeing up of some of the questions this play is made up of and asks.

Shakespeare Uncovered David Tennant On Hamlet from PBS on Vimeo.

Tennant’s RSC performance as Hamlet was also filmed for TV, and gets under your skin; the knife-edged thriller that the director, Gregory Doran, (interviewed in the doc) intended is certainly delivered.