Diaries at the Morgan Library

Charlotte Bronte's diary

Courtesy NYTimes. Credit: Graham Haber

I went to the Morgan Library to check out the Degas: Drawings and Sketchbooks exhibit before it closed – which was amazingly detailed and informative – and was pleasantly surprised by the new exhibit The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives (on view until May 22) where the interior thoughts of many well-known figures are exposed to the public.

The Morgan Library describes the exhibit: “As today’s diarists employ new forms—logging their thoughts outside the traditional notebook—the exhibition explores the enduring human desire to document our lives.” I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this point because I had gone back and forth debating whether to create a blog or simply write in a diary. The blog eventually won out as I wanted to share my story and my experiences. Back in the day, however, writing in a diary was a way to document one’s life, work through emotional issues, doodle, and test philosophical and mathematical problems. Imagine being lost in one’s thoughts disconnected from the world except for pen and paper.

Among the many diaries from sea captains, scientists, philosophers, and artists, I enjoyed reading Charlotte Bronte’s the most. She used her diary as an escape, giving her writing an honest, “for-my-eyes-only” appeal. Her handwriting is so small that it is almost impossible to read – making it that much more enticing to read.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit for its tactile and historical approach to the intimate writings of some of the world’s greatest minds.


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