Blog Digest

25 Sep 2008

Four famous individuals reach out from beyond the grave in this week’s Blog Digest. And there you were foolishly thinking you had to be alive to have a blog.

George Orwell (pictured)

Dead men can’t tell tales, but apparently they can blog. The Orwell Prize for political writing decided to resurrect the Animal Farm writer’s journal in blog format and publish his daily entries.

It is incredibly surreal to see Orwell document his time in Marrakech and talk of the Spanish Civil War, and wonder what he would think of his personal opinions being made available online with readers adding their own opinions.

It’s also exciting to see him writing on the cusp of a world war without realising it. You do feel like shouting, ‘It’s behind you!,’ in pantomime fashion.

Samuel Pepys

Ah, 17th-century London. The smells, the sights, the fruity language used by Mr Pepys, a popular diarist of his time who had no problem referring to an acquaintance as a ‘doating foole’ or ‘asse’.

Pepys, by all accounts, was a lad about town who liked nothing better than to wine and dine the ladies. His social conscience, however, is questionable: “At noon to dinner to my Lord Bruncker … and very merry we were, only that the discourse of the likelihood of the increase of the plague this weeke makes us a little sad, but then again, the thoughts of the late prizes make us glad.”

Charles Darwin

If dead political writers and social climbers leave you cold, maybe you are of a more scientific, inquiring mind.

This blog is young Charles Darwin’s account of his time aboard the HMS Beagle – a journey that exposed him to  many strange and varied species and inspired his thinking on their origins, providing us with the foundations of modern biology: evolution.

His encounters with animals we are now familiar with are interesting from his fresh perspective: “Fetid oil … clothes once touched are forever useless. Every other animal makes room for the Zorilla.” Darwin is talking about the skunk.

Thomas Hardy

Unfortunately, this is not an online version of a blog kept by the great poet Thomas Hardy, but it is a daily post of his beautiful poems. It is interesting to note that after Hardy’s death, the executors to his estate actually burned most of his notebooks and letters – one can’t help but wonder if there was a future blog settling amongst the ashes.

Many of Hardy’s poems are quiet seasonal, so Roger R who maintains this blog seems to put in weather or season-appropriate ones as he sees fit. A poem for last month from 1920? A Wet August. Some things never change.

By Marie Boran