In New York for workshops at the Digital Book World Conference, I took the weekend to see family and friends and to visit museums. At The Morgan Library and Museum we had lunch and saw the Degas drawing show on the last weekend of its installation. Such a pleasure to see him working his ideas through, and his experimental approach with prints, pencil, pastel, oil washes. My favorite draftsman of horses, bar none.
Just opened the day before was The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives, a truly remarkable collection of private diaries and daybooks. Samuel Pepys, that great London gossip and popularizer of the personal journal was represented. Charlotte Bronte‘s books were there, her crabbed, miniature hand illegible – as were most of the journals. Albert Einstein’s diary was a scattered intermix of philosophy and equation; John Steinbeck’s rigorous ledger entries over the course of his writing The Grapes Of Wrath gave me a new approach to managing the writing day to day; a Boston soldier’s cool retelling of great quantities of tea dumped out into the harbor was recorded in a careful and beautiful copperplate hand. I was most touched by Henry David Thoreau‘s notebooks, with their marbled covers and daily entries. Here is a short entry from November 5th, 1837 (?) entitled Truth:
Truth takes you from behind and in the dark, as well as from before and in broad daylight.
You can look at and read pages from some of the diaries here. Coming soon to the website are readings from the diaries. The exhibit is up through May 22.