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Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire…

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (original 2002; edition 2012)

by Claire Tomalin

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1,225256,502 (4.16)60
Title:Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
Authors:Claire Tomalin
Info:Penguin (2012), Paperback, 544 pages
Collections:Twenty-first century, Biographies, Read but unowned

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Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin (2002)


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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
I read the diary recently and was left wondering what happened to everybody, and how Pepys felt when his wife died, when he was sacked, when he was imprisoned. This book gives you the information you need to imagine those things. I'm deeply impressed by the depth of Tomalin's knowledge. It's also exceptionally well written on a word by word basis, but also in it's structure, with the expository background history deployed at those points where we don't know the day to day doings of Pepys. I could actually have done with more information on the Popish Plot, but I suppose it would be outside the scope of a biography. I had trouble keeping track of everyone in the diary, and working out exactly what it was that Pepys did professionally and this book helped clarify it. Tomalin also has a dry sense of humour and an eye for an amusing detail. ( )
  Lukerik | Sep 5, 2015 |
A lucid, warm and engaging portrait of a wonderfully complex man. Tomalin clearly feels very affectionate towards her subject but, like Pepys himself, she doesn't let that cloud her assessment of his less positive qualities. A thoroughly enjoyable book not only as a biography but also as an evocation of a very turbulent, formative moment in England's history.

For a full review please see my blog:
http://theidlewoman.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/samuel-pepys-unequalled-self-claire.h... ( )
  Leander2010 | Jul 30, 2015 |
I really think Pepy's diary is too distracting to biographers. Obviously the most important source of information about his life, its salaciousness obscures his actual work and accomplishments. I long for a biography that would focus upon his impact on the British Navy and politics of the time. ( )
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
Amazing, fascinating bio. ( )
  lxydis | May 11, 2013 |
Plague, fire, civil war, treason, the fall of kings: Samuel Pepys experienced them all. His was a life that coincided with one of the most momentous periods of English history and he recorded his experiences in meticulous detail in leather-bound diaries writing every day for nine years.

Such a rich source of original material would be a gift for any biographer but for Claire Tomalin they didn’t go far enough because they tell us nothing of Pepys’ childhood and education or, after the Restoration, his public disgrace and humiliation. Through extensive research and examination of contemporary letters and diaries, Admiralty papers, judicial reports, memoirs and biographies, she seeks to fill in these considerable gaps in Pepys’ story.

Tomalin tells the story with panache and energy. Although she has to resort to guess-work and surmise on some occasions, she never stretches credulity too far. Nor, although much of what she writes is necessarily full of facts, she never allows that detail to get in the way of telling a good story. One of the most memorable episodes she tells is of the operation Pepys underwent to remove the bladder stone which had given him excruciating pain for decades. In Tomalin’s imaginative re-creation we experience the same tension Pepys must have felt as he was trussed and bound to the bed and sense every moment of the operation he suffered without the benefit of anaesthetic or numbing alcohol.

Tomalin treats her subject with warmth, enjoying his pleasure in ordinary human activities and admiring his curiousity, his love and support for learning and his intelligence. She acknowledges his egotism, his often bad treatment of the women in his life and his lecherous behaviour but concludes that these never dim his brightness so we ‘rarely lose all sympathy for him. His energy burns off blame.” It’s a credit to Tomalin’s skill that we come to share her enthusiasm for this ‘most ordinary and the most extraordinary’ of men. ( )
2 vote Mercury57 | Dec 22, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Claire Tomalinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thouvenot, FrançoisTraducteursecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The whole book, if you will but look at it in that way, is seen to be a work of art to Pepys's own address. Here, then, we have the key to that remarkable attitude preserved by him throughout his diary, to that unflinching - I had almost said that unintelligent - sincerity which makes it a miracle among human books...Whether he did ill or well, he was still his own unequalled self; still that entrancing ego of whom alone he cared to write. - Robert Louis Stevenson, 'Samuel Pepys'.
Un livre est le produit d'un autre moi que celui que nous manifestons dans nos habitudes, dans la société, dans nos vices. - Marcel Proust, Contre Sainte-Beuve.
[There is] in every one, two men, the wise and the foolish, and... each of them must be allowed his turn. If you would have the wise, the grave, the serious, always to rule and have sway, the fool would grow so peevish and troublesome, that he would put the wise man out of order, and make him fit for nothing: he must have his times of being let loose to follow his fancies, and play his gambols, if you would have your business go on smoothly. - Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, to John Locke.
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At seven o'clock on a January morning, as the sky over London was growing light, a row broke out in a bedroom between a husband and wife.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375725539, Paperback)

For a decade, beginning in 1660, an ambitious young London civil servant kept an astonishingly candid account of his life during one of the most defining periods in British history. In Samuel Pepys, Claire Tomalin offers us a fully realized and richly nuanced portrait of this man, whose inadvertent masterpiece would establish him as the greatest diarist in the English language.

Against the backdrop of plague, civil war, and regicide, with John Milton composing diplomatic correspondence for Oliver Cromwell, Christopher Wren drawing up plans to rebuild London, and Isaac Newton advancing the empirical study of the world around us, Tomalin weaves a breathtaking account of a figure who has passed on to us much of what we know about seventeenth-century London. We witness Pepys’s early life and education, see him advising King Charles II before running to watch the great fire consume London, learn about the great events of the day as well as the most intimate personal details that Pepys encrypted in the Diary, follow him through his later years as a powerful naval administrator, and come to appreciate how Pepys’s singular literary enterprise would in many ways prefigure our modern selves. With exquisite insight and compassion, Samuel Pepys captures the uniquely fascinating figure whose legacy lives on more than three hundred years after his death.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:26 -0400)

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"For ten years, from 1660, Samuel Pepys kept one of the most remarkable records ever made of a human life. With astounding candour and perceptiveness he described his ambitions and speculations, his professional success and failures, his pettinesses and meannesses, his tenderness towards his wife and the irritation and jealousies she provoked, his extramarital longings and fumblings, his coolly critical attitude towards the king he served and his watchful adaptation to the corrupt and treacherous life of the court"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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