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The Diary

Alec Samuels

Apparently Alan Clark, author of the Diaries, and also of Into Politics: The long¬ awaited early years (published October 2000), said that the secret of any successful diary lay in the rule of the four “I’s”; it should be immediate, indiscreet, intimate and indecipherable (Daily Telegraph Saturday 19 August 2000 p.17). Apparently the publisher compared Alan Clark to Pepys, which must rank as publisher’s exaggeration. Do the four “I’s” apply to Pepys?
Immediate? Certainly contemporary, recorded at the time, not in recollection.
Indiscreet? No. Rather a truthful account of events and truthful description of himself and of others.
Intimate? No, not in the Alan Clark sense. Rather deeply personal, covering all aspects of life.
Indecipherable? No. In code maybe. But luckily decipherable. But not intended for publication during or soon after his lifetime so as to embarrass contemporaries. Pepys’ diary did not see the light of day for over 100 years after his death, so nobody was harmed.
Why is Pepys’ diary the greatest in the language? Why does it surpass all others, before or since? What are the unique and outstanding qualities? Perhaps the Pepys Club might like to run a little competition. Maximum 300 words, closing date to be specified by the Editor.