- Hardcover: 544 pages
- Publisher: Viking; 1st Edition edition (3 Oct. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670885681
- ISBN-13: 978-0670885688
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.7 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self Hardcover – 3 Oct 2002
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More About the Author
Claire Tomalin was born to write a biography of Samuel Pepys. Her previously acclaimed biographies of Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft have defined her as a scrupulous biographer who establishes a unique empathy with her subjects. In Pepys Tomalin has found her perfect subject, a man who is "both the most ordinary and the most extraordinary writer you will ever meet".
Pepys wrote his diary throughout the 1660s, "a period as intellectually thrilling as it was dangerous and bloody", and Tomalin's book vividly brings to life the tumultuous world of 17-century London, where Pepys grew up. Pepys' life spanned the execution of one king and the restoration of another, and Tomalin elegantly recreates both Pepys' public and private lives. From his early days in London and then Cambridge, Tomalin pieces together the crucial years when "the private Samuel Pepys began to develop and yearn". She chronicles his rise through the bureaucracy of the restored king, Charles II, to his position as energetic reformer of the navy and successful husband to his vivacious, mercurial wife Elizabeth. But the book also deals with Pepy's personal tragedies, his struggle to secure patronage as a commoner, his frank and hilarious extra-marital exploits, and the cataclysmic Fire of London in 1666.
This is a fine biography of an extraordinary man who "found the energy and commitment to create a new literary form" while also coming across as a generous, likeable, flawed human being. Tomalin's admiration for her subject is infectious, and will ensure that her biography becomes the standard reference for anyone interested in both Pepys's life and his art.--Jerry Brotton
The Pepys we know lived for only nine years and five months. Tomalin gives us the rest of the man, and also a startling new way to read him. Thomas Mallon, "The New Yorker " Tomalin not only brings him back to vibrant life, but makes a powerful case that he s more central, more relevant than we ever imagined . . . She has restored to us the whole Pepys. Charles McGrath, "New York Times Book Review," front cover Brilliantly believable . . . It takes an exceptional biographer to go so confidently beyond the apparent totality of daily experience presented in Pepys s "Diary ." . . Claire Tomalin s life [of Pepys] is a magnificent triumph. Her research has been not just scrupulously thorough but dazzlingly imaginative. Philip Hensher, "Atlantic Monthly " Tomalin s writing is as supple and lively as Pepys s own, and by fleshing out the backdrop to his "Diary "writings, she has created the perfect bookend to his own rollicking self-portrait . . . The best work on Pepys since Robert Louis Stevenson s classic essay, published in 1881. Michiko Kakutani, "New York Times " Our greatest diarist, analyzed by one of our greatest biographers. Tomalin s flawless research and trademark empathy with her subjects should make this portrait of one of the most fascinating characters of 17th-century England the best biography of the autumn. Caroline Gascoigne, "Sunday Times" (U.K.) Immaculately well done. She writes with such beautiful clarity, always empathetic . . . There is about this biography a wisdom, an unforced feeling that the biographer has a sense of the way life is . . . Like all great biographies, "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self "has a hint of the love letter about it. And it is a love that becomes contagious. Craig Brown, "The Mail on Sunday "(U.K.)" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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He was born in London, above the shop, just off Fleet Street, in Salisbury Court, where his father John Pepys ran a tailoring business, one of many serving the lawyers living in the area. Read the first page Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews
The combined effect of Pepys' musings and (wheeler-)dealings, and Tomalin's seamless contextualisation, brings Pepys' life and times alive. I cringed with pain as his bladder stone was removed in a barbaric operation, I could almost feel his avarice as he began to rake in kickbacks from the naval contracts he was authorised to approve, and I'm sure anyone would understand his near-euphorical egotism as plague spared him while all around old friends dropped like flies.
Aside from the gripping story of his life, Tomalin also makes valid and interesting arguments to explain the extraordinary events of the period in which Pepys lived (specifically the decline of the Republic and the restoration of the monarchy), and describes how the uniqueness of the diary allows us to identify with Pepys in a way that we could never have identified with anyone before him; firstly because his writing style was revolutionary, giving us a window onto his life with detachment and honesty, and secondly because during the period in which he lived, changes came into being which sowed the seeds for modern Britain and modern society as a whole.
I thoroughly recommend the book, which would also make an excellent gift.
One doesn't need to have read the diaries to enjoy this biography, and indeed I would recommend reading this before tackling Pepys himself. A book that's both entertaining and educating. Worthy of the accolades and awards that it has attracted. Having read this, I'll be reading the diaries once again with much more knowledge and understanding.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is very well written and not too in depth to be boring. Claire Tomalin makes the whole story of Samuel Pepys's life very interesting.Published 7 days ago by A. E. Baker
I cant say that I like all Claire Tomalins work but this is absolutely excellent. Apart from her treatment of Pepys there are fascinating insights including the amazing... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Nutwood Bear
Enjoying reading Samuel Pepys books as I am learning so much from them.Published 21 days ago by Jane Fraser
Bought as a present for sister as a replacement - it is her favourite bookPublished 2 months ago by AH
This year I discovered Phil Gyford's excellent website www.pepysdiary.com which follows Pepys' Diary on a day-by-day basis. Read morePublished 2 months ago by P. Kendell
One of the most interesting books I have read. It is well researched and written. The subject is expertly managed and presented. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Hadders
Interesting read - but a bit heavy going in places - not finished it yet - keep dipping in and out.Published 6 months ago by Colin R Fletcher