Blogging Through The Ages

April 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Posted in blogging, links, writing | 13 Comments
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I often think about whether certain writers of the past would make good bloggers. Some undoubtedly would, Richard Brautigan for instance, whose short and magical prose would be perfect. Oscar Wilde, can you imagine the joy of his blog?

In fact, whilst the word ‘blog’ is a very modern addition to the lexicon, the activity is as old as the written word itself. Today I discovered three fascinating blogs, each written in a different century.

One is written by a fellow called Vincent Van Gogh, among whose posts is one entitled “One Can Speak Poetry Just By Arranging Colours Well” and another called “Infinitely Beautiful”. Mr Van Gogh is a 19th century painter whose career is not going particularly well, so he is in perfectly compatible company here.

The other is by a strange and furtive English gentleman (although I use the term loosely) by the name of George Orwell. Mr Orwell claims to be a well-respected published author from the 20th century but his blog is largely about the weather and his vegetable garden.

The third is by a English gentleman by the name of Samuel Pepys. It is a fascinating journey through 17th century society by someone who surely ranks as one of the world’s most loquacious gossips.

‘Blog’ is such an ugly word. Perhaps we should just call it writing.


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  1. Just to clarify, the three blogs use actual letters and diary entries of the aforementioned chappies, so they are actually written by them.

  2. Oh, these are so so delicious. And, yes, please may we simply call it writing.
    Hello, Lani. I think there is general agreement. No more word ‘blogging’.

  3. I’ve read all Vincent’s letters to Theo, great reading and a bit like historical voyeurism. People are fascinated by other people’s personal lives, especially those of influence or public notoriety…hence, we have Us Magazine and People magazine, The National Enquirer and The Star…etc., the last two being mainly tabloid pulp fiction with doctored photos and the like. I have a blog at blogspot of just my poetry (see address in website here)I’ve had up for a couple of months and I just noticed that I have a follower! WOW! A follower!My very first follower! But evidently they do not care to comment. lol Mine is called a “blog” as well but it is only poetry. I’m not a blogger or a “writer”…just a simple poet.
    F.G.! I have your site in my reader. I am reading all the poetry but am way behind in my commenting as always. How’s that bottle going?

  4. Ah the days when people would sit down in the evening to play an instrument, write a letter or a journal entry, perform a short play and entertain each other (because there was no tv, radio, computers). No wonder they got so good at all their hobbies. All this incessant debate about the nature of blogging is a bit over the top – it’s just regular writing/communication about anything really (sometimes with a bigger audience). Thanks for the links.
    Those were the days, when hobbies well practiced became vocations and the careers, Gabrielle. These days there is so much more required than simply being good at what you do. Is there incessant debate? I should read more. This will be my last word then. Writing not blogging, site not blog. I am enjoying splashing round in the Pool. Onwards and upwards!

  5. Oh, these are so good. I’ll think of my blog differently.
    They are fascinating, Ms Squirrel. I subscribed by RSS to all of them. It’s always good to get a sense of the famous names as normal people. I already think of your site differently. Brilliant, it is.

  6. Thanks for these links Paul… great stuff. Totally agree that Brautigan would have grabbed the digital revolution by the scruff of its neck and given it a damn good shake. His work was ready made for the screen!
    It was. Italo Calvino is another and Borges too. They would have gone well on the internet, I reckon, Graham.

  7. I love your new header picture- a tree almost underwater! Incredible!
    Incerdibubble ! Harmonie. It is a mangrove, that is how they live, on the tidal flats. Without them, no fishy fish.

  8. Interesting post Mr. Squires. Playing the gossip detective through the biographical terrain of famous/infamous dead people is a peculiar pastime of human beings in this and the previous century. Certainly Van Gogh et al left some glorious art when they completed their trip here, but their lives were all too common and perhaps this is what we marvel at, that such regular people (much like ourselves) could be responsible for the delivery of such unearthly genius and beauty. Vincent should have stayed out of that brothel and Oscar should have been a bit more savvy about that young lad who raked him over the coals. Oscar tells me Reading Gaol wasn’t worth the trysts. 😉 lololol
    That is true, Val. It’s important to remember that they were merely human, just like ourselves. It makes their level of achievement a more realistic goal for us. It’s also interesting that the internet is making this kind of fascination with people’s private lives more and more part of the writer’s career. As well as thinking about who would have gone well on the web, I think about writers who wouldn’t have. Australia’s only Nobel Prize winner for Literature for instance. Patrick White would have been a disaster, a most unlikeable man, I doubt he would even get published now that people are so much less inclined to make the distinction between the writer and the work.

  9. Re: your header – I thought it was fake and you were making a statement about global warming – ha,ha,ha!
    Haha, it was just a very high tide at Nudgee Beach. I should make more statements about global warming though.

  10. Eugene Delacroix would be a most elegant blogger and a couple decades of prose might not have disappeared had they been cached!

    Yes, it is writing! I could even “twitter” were I more adept at sentences. Ah, for spare and clear thoughts.
    Ahh, yes, some spare and clear thoughts would be a blessing, Aletha. Especially on a Sunday.

  11. Wow, that is mightly interesting and written mightly tight. I really enjoyed the ideas here, the whole blogging concept. its greeat how you used three staples among qualifiers. blogging, that is awsome.

  12. I knew Val would have something interesting to say about Oscar – and you raise great questions… what about Mr. Shakespeare? Not sure I could understand his blogs…. ugh, and yes, that is an ugly word. So is ‘vlog.’ It’s that g, man. That heavy g at the end.

    I’m with you.

    Let’s call it writing.

  13. …the Orwell diaries show that even the most interesting writers may, in fact,live very boring lives.
    That is true, Ana. I am feeling much that way myself at the moment.

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