On my Google reader I’ve been enjoying my subscription to The Orwell Diaries. They’ve been publishing his diaries exactly 70 years to-the-day after they were written, starting from August 9th 1938/2008. I think I’ve only been reading them for about a year. Some of them used to be quite uneventful, such as how many eggs he collected that morning. But currently we’re getting into WWII, the invasion of France, and Britain’s role in everything, all told from Orwell’s perspective. I’ve found it quite interesting, and wanted to pass on the link so others could enjoy as well.
When I took a class on empire and colonialism with Ann Stoler at Cornell’s School of Criticism and Theory a few summers ago, we read Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”, which is an amazing short story about being a colonizer in a colony. The final paragraph is stellar writing. [This was before the time that he writes about in his diaries but I love telling people about it when I can]
This site is a presentation of the diaries of Samuel Pepys, the renowned 17th century diarist who lived in London, England (read more about him). A new entry written by Pepys will be published each day over the course of several years; 1 January 1660 was published on 1 January 2003.
As a historian and a lover of things in the past, I think this is an amazing thing that the internet can do for us, to close the gap between primary sources created by actual historical actors and regular modern-day folks. You can read for yourself, without the insertion of a historian/narrator, what people in the past thought about their everyday lives. It’s awesome.
Thanks for the heads up, Mo!