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The Shorter Pepys Unknown Binding – 1985

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Bell & Hyman Ltd; First as Such edition (1985)
  • ASIN: B001MTR5T2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 6 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was the first book that I have ever read on Samuel Pepys and I found it fascinating. I loved every detail of family and court life right down to the household accounts. Living in present day London, I particularly enjoyed Pepy's descriptions of trips to Barnes and Putney. It is amazing to look at the Thames from where I live and know that he was here all those years ago. At the end of the book, I found my self hoping that a cure or glasses would be found for Pepys failing eyesight because I did not want his diary to end. Samuel Pepys has now become a hero of mine.
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Format: Hardcover
This diary in this abridged version, has given me more sheer pleasure than any other book I have ever read. Writing for himself alone, Pepys selected things for inclusion in the diary purely on the basis of how they struck him. This grand subjectivity would be fatal in a dull or passive or insensitive writer, but in Pepys it makes the work fresh and vibrant, constantly surprising, unlike anything else in literature. Even when describing an "important" scene, he is still his natural self and gives touches of his own behaviour, like this at the King's coronation: "But so great a noise, that I could make but little of the Musique; and endeed, it was lost to everybody. But I had so great a list to pissse, that I went out a little while before the King had done all his ceremonies...." Not just his behavior, but also his reactions: "As it grew darker, [the fire] appeared more and more, and in Corners and upon steeples and between churches and houses, as far as we could see up the hill of the City, in a most horrid malicious bloody flame, not like the fine flame of an ordinary fire." That is from Pepys's stunning account of the first day of the great fire of London. It has no conscious artifice: Pepys's descriptions owe their power to his uncanny knack for expressing how the events struck him. So he gives details which a more "responsible" writer would have overlooked: "Among other things, the poor pigeons I perceive were loath to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconies till they were some of them burned, their wings, and fell down.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
It's well worth getting into Pepys, and this book is the best way to do it. The style takes a little getting used to and the more detailed full diary can be rather frustrating at first, with it's incessant notation. The 'Shorter' Pepys hasn't been edited to give only the highlights, but a representative selection so there are plenty of the mundane days in here. However it's delightfully reassuring to find that getting up and going to the office hasn't changed a bit. He encounters the same daily frustrations that we do and records them with candour, for example when he goes down into his cellar and accidentally puts 'my foot into a pile of turd' which had come through from next-door. Aswell as the mundane there are some incredibly fascinating historical events and as Pepys was very close to the rulers of the day he provides a lot of superb background. The account of the Great Fire of London and his comments on the plague are worth reading on their own. But the best bits are the things that delight him for their sheer curiosity and his pleasure. Get the Pepys Companion for background. Aim to read a little of the diary at a time. The more you re-read it the more you will understand. Then move on to the detail of the full diary.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having really enjoyed 'The Unequalled Self', Claire Tomalin's superb biography of Pepys - or Sam, as she often referred to him, this volume of extracts from the diary shows why Tomalin felt so warm towards her subject, falling madly in like - if not in love - with Mr. Pepys.

Pepys recounts everything, from discussions with King Charles ll and his brother, the Duke of York, future King James ll, to matters of his health, some of them - many of them - which would be treated these days at his nearest G.U.I. clinic.

There are descriptions of meals, pretty much on a daily basis, his attempts to economise by first not going to the theatre at all - to which he was virtually addicted - then allowing himself one play per month. Similarly, the attempt to stop drinking wine, which he managed and declared himself to feel much the better for it, rings as loud and clear to us now - me, certainly - as it did to him.

Pepys was a bit of a rogue when it comes to his morals. He adored his wife but missed no opportunity to fool around on the side. He was wildly jealous, going through agonies if he had to go somewhere out of London, leaving his wife at home., imagining her receiving gentleman callers. He makes a monumental fool of himself and is not at all reticent about admitting it, with the jealous suspicion that one of the regulars at church spends the whole service eyeing up Mrs Pepys. One Sunday he even insists they skip church because he believes this fellow will be there.
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