“Robert Francis Kilvert, (..) fills his diary with enthusiastic descriptions of sunsets, views, ruined churches, flowers, animals, birds. (..) But he is at his best when describing the daily round, the common task: baptizing babies, chasing birds out of the church, planting lettuces“, writes Margaret Drabble (in A Writers’ Britain), and I’m thinking this is something I have to get my hands on as soon as possible.
Reading about the common, everyday life is distinctly interesting – it doesn’t matter if it’s an account of a contemporary, fellow human being living in a similar circumstances, or one of a person who belonged to another era and led a life on another continent; it’s always about the pleasure of discovering what ‘small things’ people find delight and fulfillment in. It’s, also, about the pleasure of appreciating a well-written anecdote, a well-expressed observation or nuance of a feeling.
I first found out about Kilvert’s diaries through Howard’s End is on the Landing:
“(..) it is so carefully composed and the descriptions of the country, the seasons, the weather, the daily round of a clergyman, are set down with an exactness and a poetic touch that are unusual in a very private diary. There is probably no better place to go, than these beautiful diaries, to discover the countryside of the Black Mountains and the life of the people there, in remote villages and farms, as it was in the nineteenth century.”
I made a note to find the book, but never got to it. Drabble’s recommendation, however, found me not only at the right time but in the right mood as well.
So, on to the Diaries! Let the Readathon begin!