Pamela, make sure you keep your diary secret...
Do people still write diaries? Perhaps they have been replaced by blogs, something intensely private being replaced by something totally public, because that’s the way we live our lives these days. But the temptation is still there: the beautiful new book, the empty white page….
No, safer to turn to the endless joys of fictional diaries, where the writer is not allowed to give up. Today’s entry appears on the Guardian books blog, and looks at the best diaries in literature over the past 250 years… These are the opening paragraphs:
Diaries: you get one as a Xmas present and start writing it and continue for, oh, a few days more or less than you go to the gym for the New Year. Then you give it up, along with that new eating regime. But fictional characters tend to be much more reliable, forced by their authors to carry the story, slaves to the process of narrative. And there’s good reason for the format’s popularity in novels – at the most basic level it means you can have a first-person narration without the protagonist knowing what’s going to happen (although going out on a dangerous adventure is slightly less exciting, because the diarist definitely got back safely to write it up).
Fictional diaries have been amusing and entertaining us since the novel’s early days – here are some favourite examples.
Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) is usually described as an epistolary novel, but our heroine also writes a journal, and then sews it into her underwear (she describes it as ‘in my undercoat, next my linen’), for secrecy, so she is wearing it at all times. It is hard to imagine a better metaphor for women’s history and women’s writing, and perhaps women’s diaries, over the past 250 years. Read on at the Guardian books blog here
Provincials on their way to a wedding
Many of the diaries mentioned in the piece have featured on the blog: Bridget Jones (old versions and new), the Provincial Lady, I Capture the Castle (that's Topaz above in the drape-y dress) and Adrian Mole are particular favourites.
Bridget Jones and that post-Xmas skirt