“I see what you think of me,’ said he gravely – ‘I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow.’
‘Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings – plain black shoes – appeared to much advantage, but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense,’
‘Indeed I shall say no such thing.’
‘Shall I tell you what you ought to say?’
‘If you please.’
‘I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced to me by Mr King; had a great deal of conversation with him – seems a most extraordinary genius – hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say.’
‘But, perhaps, I keep no journal.’
‘Perhaps you are not sitting in this room, and I am not sitting by you. These are points in which a doubt is equally possible. Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenor of your life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal? How are your various dresses to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion, and the curl of your hair to be described in all their diversities, without having constant recourse to a journal? – My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies’ ways as you wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journalising which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally celebrated. Everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal.”
I love this dialog between Henry Tilney and Catherin Morland in the very beginning of Northanger Abbey! It’s so sweet and charming and funny! And I think it’s interesting how they discuss journals. It isn’t that often that you encounter any mentions of journal writing in books like these I think. Letters are plentiful, but not journals in the same way. And yet, the way Henry talks about it in the quote above it sounds like keeping a journal was something most ladies did. And so why is it we never hear of them? And if that was the case, where have they all gone to? I wonder if Jane Austen herself kept a journal… Just imagine reading that! But if she did, I suspect it probably shared the fate of all those letters Cassandra got rid off…
There is something very special about reading journals I find. I just finished reading Anne Frank’s diary, or “The Diary of a Young Girl”. It’s a book I have been meaning to read for a very long time, and finally I got around to doing it. It was fascinating and touching to read. Because it was a journal you got to see so much of what she thought and felt, saw her secret hopes, dreams and fears. That’s what makes reading journals special I think. They way it opens up the door into another persons life. And often I get the feeling that those people, are really not that different from me.
I haven’t read many “real” journals, a few, but many fictional ones. In those of course not every little detail is true, but it still gives a much more personal feeling to the book, and often I find I like that.
I keep a journal myself. Have done so for three years now. Before then I had often tried to do it. Because I wanted to keep a journal. But… it never worked…. The reason for that I think was that I compared myself and my writing to my dear sister Viktoria’s. You see, she kept journals (I say journals, because she had several!) for many years. And she was so good at it! She wrote many times every day and filled book after book in no time at all! And I couldn’t do that. It didn’t work for me. So every time I gave it a try I would give up after a day or two. Until at last I decided that I would write, but only when I wanted to. So not every day (unless I wanted to of course) and not about everything, only when I felt like it. And then finally it worked! I was delighted! And it has been working very well now for, like I said, three years. I write now and then. Sometimes a couple of times a day, if I feel like it, and sometimes not for several weeks. But I confess, when I haven’t written anything at all for about two weeks I get a bit of a bad conscience… 😉
I really want to show you some pictures of the journal I write in now, because it’s so pretty! A good friend sent it to me (thank you Sarah!) last year. She said she’d seen it and thought of me instantly, and just had to buy it! I was very surprised to get it, and fell in love with it at first sight!
From the front.
And close up of the text on the back. On the front it also says Charlotte Brontë, and then the other writing is a part from Jane Eyre! 😀
Isn’t it gorgeous?! I think so! I am dreading the day when I shall have finished it!
For me it is important that the book I write in is pretty, it makes the whole thing much more fun! The one I had before this one was one I liked very much too…
The pages in this book were beautiful, and the first page had a Shakespeare quote on it!
I’m really curious to know, how many of you keep journals? And if you do, how do you go about writing in them? Do you write every day, sometimes, about everything or only about certain specific things? I’m just curious to hear what others do, if you are willing to share!
And then I’ll just have to finish this off with another fantastic quote about journals/diaries. From Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.