Samuel Pepy’s Diaries – storie e intrighi nella Londra di fine 1600

Famous for his diary form was Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703)

Of humble origins, he was lucky to receive an education at St Paul‘s school in London and then in  Cambridge.

He married the 15-year-old Huguenot, Elizabeth Marchant de Saint-Michel and later Pepys enjoyed a successful career in public service: he became Member of Parliament and President of the Royal Society.  Pepys was a confident of the two kings whom he served – Charles II and James II.

He is known for his exhaustive (=esaustivi) diaries written in a secret code (=codice) that was deciphered only in 1825.

The Diary  starts from the year 1569 and is a very intimate and personal account of his life, probably because he thought that his private code prevented (=impediva) anyone from reading it. He is the eye-witness (= testimone oculare) of every serious episode from public execution to past times of the period, from the Plague to the Great Fire of London and the Dutch Wars. He gives a fascinating account of Charles’ escape from the Battle of Worcester and records details (= relaziona dettagli) of the last  testament of King James II before he escaped in 1688. Other great names which appear in the diaries include Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Isaac Newton and the poet John Dryden. He stopped writing in 1669 because he mistakenly (=erroneamente) feared (= temeva) that he was going blind. Reading them we learn the emotion of a man who lived intensely his time.

Pepy’s way of writing is natural, frank,  rich in details and humour as well as pathos and reveals the hidden side of his life and thoughts. His secret code is mostly of his own invention: a mixture of Thomas Shelton’s system of shorthand (= dattilografia) known as tachygraphy, contractions and foreign words. Only the names appear in long-hand.