Thursday, 4 July 2013

SAMUEL PEPYS, The Unequalled Self – Claire Tomalin, 2002

Such an interesting read and such a revelation. This is a real ‘warts and all’ portrait of a very important man, who is now largely remembered for one thing.
Tomalin uses The Diary as a backbone for her biography but also fills in the gaps with other contemporary evidence.  This gives a full and complete account of the life of a man in the seventeenth century. What is so surprising is that this man is Pepys, whom we all think we know because we have heard of his compassion for the pigeons during the Great Fire of London and the fact that he buried his Parmesan cheese so it would escape the flames.
This Pepys, the real man, is not what I was expecting at all. He seduced fourteen year-old girls, caroused in bars, bickered with his wife, suffered from stomach ailments and was ruthless in his climb to the top. Yet, I had thought he was a jolly old man with an obsession for recording daily events.

I love books like this which open your eyes.

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