Literary role models for bloggers

All writers have their role models. To whom should bloggers look?

One obvious choice is Samuel Pepys, who kept regular diaries for about ten years. But Adam Sisman’s excellent book, written before the advent of blogging, nonetheless directs our attention to the Scot James Boswell:

Boswell’s plain, direct prose was easy to read, and appealed to twentieth-century readers as [Samuel] Johnson’s mannered, classical style never could. Moreover, Boswell’s interest in himself, which seemed so peculiar to his contemporaries, was very much more acceptable two centuries later. Indeed, Boswell seemed to offer a unique combination: a writer who poured the contents of his mind freely into his journal, without either embarrassment or knowingness…Here was a miracle: a pre-Freudian autobiographer who revealed everything in his mind, without restraint, concealment, or distortion. Or so it seemed.

Boswell [borrowed] techniques from the novel, the theatre, and the confessional memoir. With meticulous care, with long-practised skill, and with a generous imagination, he crafted a character who lived and breathed [TC: I have long felt that Boswell, not Samuel Johnson, is the real biographical subject of Boswell’s Life of Johnson]. He also set new scholarly standards; his verification of every possible detail, which seemed so eccentric to his contemporaries, would become the norm. In doing what he did, he relied mainly on instinct, his sense of what would serve his purpose best.

Hmm…and like many bloggers, Boswell often got in trouble for writing up his private conversations with others.


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