Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dear diary...

Will future generations be able to look back on our time via diaries and journals the way we look back on times past? No, think some archivists, unless we account for new technologies.

Jamie Andrews, head of Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library, told The Times [London] that it was vital that the tradition of diary-keeping survived, given the ephemeral nature of internet postings.

He said: “The unguarded intimacy that results from the private relationship between writers and their diaries has made their survival critical for scholars of literature,” he said.

“The British Library contains a treasure trove of diaries of great writers which record their reactions to momentous historical episodes and, no less fascinating, their observations of the quotidian.”

Read more about efforts to perserve the inner thoughts of the MySpace generation.

A few selections, courtesy of the Times, from notable journals, real and imaginary:

“I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among other people, did trouble me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge". Samuel Pepys September 2, 1666

“I've reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can't do anything to change events anyway." Anne Frank October 9, 1942

“We shall stick it out till the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more." Captain Scott’s final diary entry on March 29, 1912

“I take up my pen once again to record a momentous time in the affairs of men (and, thank God, because this is intended to be a secret diary, I am not required to add ‘and women’)." Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years by Sue Townsend

“11:45pm Ugh. First day of New Year has been day of horror. Cannot quite believe I am once again starting the year in a single bed in my parents’ house. It is too humiliating at my age." Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel by Helen Fielding

--Marshal Zeringue