Know thyself…

July 26, 2008 at 12:21 pm (books)

Along with biography, history and those types of books, a favorite read is – surprise! – diaries.

Last year I remember seeing the BAFTA awards that went to Housewife, 49. Costume dramas and period-pieces are two types of movies/TV I continue to adore, and a few months ago I rented Housewife, 49 from Netflix. It was excellent. But, believe it or not, the original diary of Nella Last (who described herself in the beginning of the journal she sent to the Mass Observation Archive as a ‘housewife’ and aged ’49’, hence the title) is even better! Nella writes in one entry that her dearest wish would have been to write; what a pity she never took up the pen, for she has a gift with words that few have. But what a delight that four editors and two publishers have given us the words she did leave behind. In the coming months, Profile Books will release the second volume of Nella’s diaries: Nella Last’s Peace.

Today’s reading unearthed the following quote, which really speaks volumes; the last line seems especially a propos for someone fleshing out lives lived 200 years ago:

“What would I really be like if all my nonsense and pretense was taken from me? I have a sneaking feeling I’d be a very scared, ageing woman, with pitifully little. It’s an odd thing to reflect: no one knows anyone else, we don’t even know ourselves very well.”
                                             — Nella Last (10 Sept 1942)
                                                  (from Nella Last’s War, p. 209)

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