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A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries Paperback – September 1, 1995
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Strangely enough, this exploration of one of the most private of writing endeavors is likely to send readers off in a zillion different directions. Thomas Mallon's survey of diarists throughout the ages introduces us to the most personal writings of more than 100 diarists, including Samuel Pepys, Leonardo da Vinci, Virginia Woolf, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Mallon divides the diarists into seven categories--chroniclers, travelers, pilgrims, creators, apologists, confessors, and prisoners--that he uses as a basis for his inquiries into the nature of these apparently private writings. (From the start Mallon admits that "I still don't believe that one can write to oneself for many words more than get used in a note tacked to the refrigerator saying 'Buy bread.' ") Glimpsing the many, vastly different lives that have been thrown together on these pages is fascinating in and of itself, but Mallon's thoughts about the whys and wherefores of diary-keeping are what make his dense prose so worth reading.
From Publishers Weekly
Novelist Mallon's 1984 exploration of diaries through the ages, drawing on both the famous and the obscure, inaugurates a new series-the Hungry Mind Find-devoted to bringing back into print literary nonfiction titles.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
in the diaries of others (usually one and the same, I dare say). The author, Mr. Mallon, is
wise, witty, provocative, and entertaining, and admits to being one of us! He has, moreover,
a wide acquaintance with almost all the published diaries currently available in libraries,
including--but by no means limited to--those of professional writers or of the famous and
infamous. After perusing Mallon's excerpts and commentaries, you will know precisely which
collections you will want to check out, investigate further, and eventually own. The genre
itself is much more extensive than I had known, and Mallon has set me off on some remarkable
new reading experiences!
The old rule seemed to apply here, and the less I knew about the diarist the more Mallon 's work seemed significant. But for those whose work I do somehow know , and I think here of the example of Kafka , Mallon's treatment seemed to me hasty, and slight. This suggests that another problem of doing the work the way Mallon did is distinguishing well enough between diarists of greater and lesser significance.
This book is highly recommended for all those who take interest in the Diary form, for I know of nothing else like it.