March 13, 2006

A Book of One's Own: people and their diaries

A brilliant, generous, and comprehensive study of journals, Mallon reads everything in sight: little girl's locked dimestore confidantes, Degas' sketchbooks, Weston's daybooks, Nixon's tapes. He builds a taxonomy of diaries that consitutes an invaluable antidotes to the facile dismissal of weblogs as indulgent and adolescent. Mallon finds an intriguing range of diarists:

  • Choniclers
  • Travelers
  • Pilgrims
  • Creators
  • Apologists
  • Confessors
  • Prisoners

He wears his erudition lightly and understands that literary taxonomists need to look beneath the surface: the chapter on prisoners ranges gracefully from Dreyfus to Anne Franck to Albert Speer to Alice James.