The Diary of Samuel Pepys is one of the most entertaining documents in English history. Written between 1660 and 1669, as Pepys was establishing himself as a key administrator in the naval office, it is an intimate portrait of life in 17th-century England covering his professional and personal activities, including, famously, his love of music, theatre, food, wine and his peccadilloes. This Naxos AudioBooks production is the world premiere recording of the diary in its entirety; the result of many years of scholarship by Robert Latham (Magdalene College, Cambridge) and William Matthews (University of California). It has been divided into three volumes. Volume I covers the opening years of the Restoration and introduces us to many of the key characters - family, government and royalty. Pepys was there when Charles II returned to England, and he lived through those opening years of the Stuart monarchy, with its revenge on the regicides. He also recorded the reopening of theaters, and how he relaxed from the Puritan way of life.
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"Mens cuiusque is est quisque“ or "Mind is the Man”
Volume 1 of the Naxos Audiobook Version of 'Diary of Samuel Pepys contains the first four books/years of his diary:
1660 - Book 1:
The first book (1660, with 117000 words) and first year of Samuel Pepy's famous diary. There are so many things about this book to love. As a survey of the time and place it is amazing, as a history of the English Restoration it is fascinating, as a social commentary it is priceless. Pepys' honesty and transparency (it was written in a short-hand code that took 165 years to decipher, so...) is incredible. He writes about his dalliances, worries, money, health, religion, music, the arts, sex, drinking, shit, and family with an openness that is incredibly interesting. It was informal, but detailed with so many revelations that sometimes while reading I felt like I was invading a private space, a voyeur in another's life.
The arc of the 1st volume is the return of Charles II to England and the rise of Pepys' patron Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich. Pepys buys a new home, sees his finances improve as he rises as Lord Mountagu's secretary and is given the position of Clerk of the Acts.
1661 - Book 2:
The second book (1661, with 84,000 words) is an interesting year for Samuel. King Charles II was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661. Admiral Sir Edward Montagu (aka Lord Sandwich) is gone shortly after on a mission for the King as Ambassador to Portugal and to retrieve Catherine of Braganza, from Lisbon to England, to be the new Queen. Pepys keeps busy with work and family. He sees his personal fortune grow, but worries that his eating, drinking, and time at the theatre is reducing his money. He also worries that due to some complication with his uncles will, their family will not inherit as much as they should. His mother is starting to mentally become more simple and argumentative (dementia) causing troubles for Sam's father. More and more people are getting sick and some good friends and family of Samuel have died. I keep on having to remind myself that he is only 28.
1662 - Book 3:
The third book (1662, with 105,000 words) shows that 1662 has been a pretty good year for Pepys. He is rising in the esteem of both the Duke of York and Lord Sandwich. He is constantly working to better himself at his job and knowledge. He has hustle and is innovative. This year he has taken an oath to only dream two cups of wine a day and limit his times at the theatre and it appears to be helping him be more productive. His major stresses are his Uncle's estate and the lawsuit involved with it, his brother Tom's need for a wife with sufficient money, his wife and maid Sarah's constant fighting, the politics at work with Sir William Pen and Sir J. Mennes, two coworkers who he is in disputes with about their co-lodgings. He is learning like Epicetus' rule says, "Some things are in our power; others are not".
1663 - Book 4:
The fourth book, and final year in the first audio volume, (1663, 159,000 words) will be remembered by me as the year Sam Pepys really struggled with farts, finance, fidelity, and family. I would say I digress, but no, really. Those were big things for Sam in 1663. Seriously, one of the greatest 10 pages of literature devoted to a man's flatulence and stool MUST be Oct 5 - 13, 1663 in Samuel Pepys diary.
I might have only given the first volume 4 four stars, but Sam EARNED that last star this last year. Pushed it right out he did. Also, there was a pretty good go Sam had with Mrs. Lane on July 18: "By and by Mrs. Lane comes; and my bands not being done, she and I parted and met at the Crowne in the palace-yard, where we eat (a chicken I sent for) and drank and were mighty merry, and I had my full liberty of tossing her and doing what I would but the last thing of all; for I felt as much as I would and made her feel my thing also, and put the end of it to her breast and by and by to her very belly -- of which I am heartily ashamed. But I do resolve never to do more so."
- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"
Life in a Perilous Time
I truly did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I bought it because it is something I've heard about since school and expected it to be very dry. Anything but.
It is one thing to read history and know that during the late 1600s that people had to deal with things like small pox, minor infections which could result in death and just saying the wrong word could result in jail, or execution. And the wrong word especially in Pepys time and place changed from month to month. He lived and worked while Cromwell's puritan regime folded with his death, and was literally an eye witness to Charles II coming to England.
But oddly it is the everyday things that are so interesting. Of course he records things from his own personal view. We hear about his wife burning her hand, "the girl" refusing to kill birds for dinner. She just will not kill anything, his wife had to do it. Wow, I thought in the time before refrigeration that people did what they had to do. I couldn't kill anything either, so it is amazing to look back across the centuries and see a kindred spirit, however small and unnamed the spirit is.
The narrators are clear, pleasant, and cheerful. It is easy to feel that Samuel himself is just chatting aloud. I am glad to get a small "peep" into such a distant world.