And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

26 October

1854
Edward Hodge,
soldier

‘I find my rascally servants not only got drunk, but they committed robberies upon the officers’ stores. They have lost my tent, and I only wonder that I have any kit left. I am most uncomfortable with such blackguards as these about me. I am far from well today. I am much purged and griped.’

Charge of the Light Brigade

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1865
Richard Wagner,
composer

‘Leafing through the Brown Book just now, I read a bit of Parzival. How that time lies once more like a sacred dream - once more like a lost paradise behind me - Oh Cosima! Will it ever come to my quietly completing my works and entering with you the promised land of peace? How storms rage ever and ever anew! I desire - so it seems - the most unnatural state of affairs which the world just will not accede to. My trouble is great. Always something new hounds and oppresses. From within and without.’

How storms rage ever

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1928
Joseph Goebbels,
politician

‘I have no friends and no wife. I seem to be going through a major spiritual crisis. I still have the same old problems with my foot, which gives me incessant pain and discomfort. And then there are the rumours, to the effect that I am homosexual. Agitators are trying to break up our movement, and I’m constantly tied up in minor squabbles. It’s enough to make you weep!’

We can conquer the world

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1958
Joshua Lederberg,
scientist

‘I was to work at the lab until about 12:30, then pick up Phyllis and Margaret for lunch and then see Phyllis off to her plane: --> Columbus->Denver->SFO->Sydney. At 11:30 + or - there was a call from a Mr. Lindquist of the “Tijding...” newspaper in Stockholm - the New York correspondent. He explained his call to my astonishment that Beadle, Tatum, and I were to be the co-recipients of the Nobel prize in medicine this year. I was rather incredulous: he insisted the AP was quoting the rumors and he was quite sure it would be announced Thursday. It’s no surprise, of course, that Beadle should be honored this way and it is a perceptive courtesy for Tatum but I am still quite astonished (as I was for the NAS last year) to be added on. I just had the impression that this kind of dignification in biology should go to the venerables and veterans and it is a bit of a shock to be classed that way. Of course in physics quite young men, e.g. Willis Lamb have been marked this way too. But I’m worried enough at keeping up a lab career that this kind of stigma has some dreadful connotations: I guess I just don’t believe in memorializing the live and kicking. On the whole I’m a little afraid the fuss and bother more than outweigh the egotistic satisfactions, the cash and the prestige factors that might help in getting my lab going. Perhaps I’m exaggerating the fuss; I was glad enough to be off the cover of Time, however! Anyhow I should have guessed sooner: several clues make some more sense now! - George Klein’s enigmatic correspondence (saying earlier he’d see me this year, then denying he was coming to the U.S.); Leo Goldberg’s request for a photograph; a telephone interview yesterday or Friday by Dag Nystadter reporter; George’s request for a bibliography last spring ( I suppose it did occur to me that George did have something of the sort in his mind then, but hardly this year.) Anyhow the trouble is it is by no means certain and there must be some possibility it is a mistake; I am rather nervously awaiting the AP bulletin to be picked up locally as I’m sure I’ll have no peace after that! I do feel as much as ever that the nonsense ought to be abolished but I don’t have the courage to meet it head on and I’m afraid it would raise even more fuss and perhaps affront Ed and Beadle in a rather nasty way. The best I can do is to be as inconspicuous about it as possible and make some reference to the obsolescence of personal distinction in scientific life.’

I was rather incredulous

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2007
Tomaž Humar,
mountaineer

‘I start climbing at 6am - no helmet, no rope, no harness - just bivy gear, some food and gas. I leave everything else with Jagat who would face the descent alone in case I did not come back. At 3pm, I start digging a hole in the ice at 7200 meters. This is my second bivy.’

Inside the ice hole

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Notes and Cautions
In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.