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Dear Stranger: Diaries for the Private and Public Self
Diaries, journals, daily planners, notebooks: these ephemeral writings provide documentation of private lives and thoughts that can otherwise be difficult to find in the historical record. But does “private” necessarily imply unfiltered and unmediated? Many theorists have noted that the diarist is both writer and reader, both private and public self. Therefore the content and form of diaries are created for future reading, even if only by a future version of the self. The ambiguity of a diary’s audience is heightened in the case of published diaries. The form suggests that we, as readers, are accessing raw, unfiltered thoughts, but rounds of revision are common, and often essential to clearly convey the intended meaning. Even further from our notions of authentic, private writing, fictional diaries are written solely to be published and read by the public, but use the diary form to draw the reader into a particular relationship with the text and its protagonist.
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