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This book holds the origins to the word "Pooterism" referring to those who take themselves too seriously, based on the lead character Charles Pooter. Diary of a Nobody details about a year and a half in the small world of Charles Pooter, his wife Carrie, their son and various acquaintances and servants. Written by brothers George and Weedon Grossmith, it first appeared in Punch magazine in 1888 before being printed in its own right as a book in 1892. The book details every aspect of the Pooters' humdrum life, starting right at the beginning with a description of their house: "a nice six-roomed residence, not counting basement, with a front breakfast-parlour. We have a little front garden; and there is a flight of ten steps up to the front door, which, by-the-by, we keep locked with the chain up. Cummings, Gowing, and our other intimate friends always come to the little side entrance, which saves the servant the trouble of going up to the front door, thereby taking her from her work. We have a nice little back garden which runs down to the railway. We were rather afraid of the noise of the trains at first, but the landlord said we should not notice them after a bit, and took 2 pounds off the rent. He was certainly right; and beyond the cracking of the garden wall at the bottom, we have suffered no inconvenience."
This banality is hilariously detailed with a fantastic understated humour to the book making it irresistibly funny and a useful insight into the psyche of the time. It's fascinating to read about the social strata and the manner in which Pooter treats his social betters and also the working classes, reminding me of a latter day Basil Fawlty. However, it is still extremely relevant to the modern day reader and has not gone out of print since it was written, which is testament to its standing as a classic.
Since it's in diary form, it's very digestible and easy-to-read. Highly recommended!
The Diary Of a Nobody written by George and Weedon Grosssmith was originally published in Punch magazine and in subsequent years it has been added to.
George Grossmith (1847-1912) was a actor turned comedian and Weedon Grossmith (1852-1919) was also in the entertainment business and it was he who illustrated the Diary Of A Nobody.
This is a purely fictitious story that centres around the life of Charles Pooter, a lower middle- class London city clerk who quite rightly so believed that his rather ordinary day to day routine was worth documenting and saving for future generations to read and share.
Charles strives to be the epitome of the Victorian gentleman but he finds his own ideals quite hard to live up to !
The diary charts just short months in the life of Charles Pooter, his family and his friends. Pooter loves to think that he has life under control but often nothing could be further from the truth.
The diary was written in the Victorian era so the text is quaint and way behind the times now. The Diary is full of laughter, light story lines and much mirth.
The book fits into the humorous section of anyone's bookshelf perfectly but it is more often than not Pooter's gaffes that we end up rolling with laughter about.
The entire diary is made up of 24 chapters but the whole book only contains 228 pages so it is not long and lengthy by any means and there is no time to be bored.
Chapter One sees the Pooter's acclimatising to their new home, then following chapters involve troubling and tedious tradesmen, Pooter's jokes that have a habit of backfiring, social occasions and parties, the homecoming of their beloved son Willie, a Christmas spent with the Mother-In-Law and the importance and value of Charles Pooter's diary. Chapter 24 deals with the happiest day in Charles Pooter's life.
In Chapter four Mr and Mrs Pooter attend a ball at the Mansion house, of course Pooter is tickled pink by the whole idea and buys himself a new pair of dancing shoes. He longs to impress Carrie, his wife who loves to waltz.
Carrie advises that Charles scratches the soles of the new shoes to make them less slippery but of course Charles knows best.
His left foot slips from underneath him, he pulls Carrie down with him and the waltz is abruptly brought to an end.
Carrie is taken off to have a seat and a calming drink and Charles finds himself being told he is too old for `that sort of caper` - the dancing of course !
The Diary is genteel, it is quaint, it epitomises just how polite life used to be in the Victorian era.
Whatever happened there were standards that had to be maintained at all costs.
If you revel in the writing of yesteryear and love to laugh at other peoples misfortune then you will enjoy the Dairy Of A Nobody.
The Diary Of A Nobody and The Diary Of Adrian mole have been put together in the same sentence and I can see why. Adrian mole is everything that Charles Pooter was.
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition (1 July 1999)
Available on the Amazon website for as little as a few pence and so very well worth the read.
I was also surprised that this hasn't had more reviews! I was passed this book by my mother. She normally reads very high brow books and I had asked her is she had something more suitable for me she could recommend.
As the title suggests this really is a diary of a nobody although the diarys author may disagree. Mr and Mrs Pooter have just moved into their new house and Mr Pooter has resolved to keep a diary (havent we all at some point in time?)
Mr Pooters diary is of all his day to day things he does. Had drink with friends, wife bought new vase etc etc. and i think this is the genious of it. You get to spy into someone else every day life!
Admittedly this book is rather old and thus the persons life is a rather old fashioned one but it shows you exactly how life may have been lived in those days and the things that were important to them then.
A great read, easy to dip in to as set out in diary form so very easy to find your place again!
One other thing, due to the language in this book I have expended my vocabulary (though shamefully not my spelling)
I'm amazed that nobody has written a review of this excellent book before now. The mind-numbingly yet hilarious world of Pooter is a joy.
Charles Pooter, along with his wife Carrie, move to a new house, The Laurels in Holloway and Pooter resolves to keep a diary. One gets the impression he harbours a great desire to go down in posterity as a latter-day Pepys but as you read the diary, you realise that there is no way that is ever going to happen! His life is filled with the mundane and his diary is full of very dreary everyday occurrences which somehow are extremely funny. This is largely because it is soon very apparent that Pooter is an exceptionally pompous sort of person who would be avoided like the plague in real life. He also seems to have the misguided notion from time to time that he can tell jokes.
The book begins with Pooter and Mrs Pooter moving in and they soon have problems with the boot scraper. Not much of an opportunity for humour, you would think, but think again. This is really laugh out loud stuff, especially if you have a strong sense of the ridiculous.
The book was written in the late 19th century and is in the same tradition of humour as Jerome K Jerome. Despite being in print for over a hundred years, the humour is still as fresh today.
Give yourself a treat and read this book. You won't regret it.
'The Diary of a Nobody' was the creation of Victorian actor and journalist George Grossmith and his cartoonist brother, Weedon. Though the latter provided the drawings, he probably had no hand in writing the book, beyond inspiring and suggesting some of the episodes. 'Nobody' is Charles Pooter, a clerk living in The Laurels, a villa in Brickfield Terrace, Holloway, working in a mercantile office in London in the 1880s. He is married with a wife, Carrie, and young adult son, Lupin, known for a reluctance to be seen in public with his father for wearing untrendy clothes, getting engaged to unsuitable women, and being unable to hold down a proper job. Yes, even Victorians had the same problem with tiresome kids (or parents) as later generations did. "Why should I not publish my diary?" Charles asks on the opening page. "I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see - because I do not happen to be a 'Somebody' - why my diary should not be interesting." He is vain, self-important, gullible, at the constant mercy of insolent tradesmen and impudent junior clerks at work who are obviously much more clever than he is. He has this unfortunate tendency to buy dreadful-coloured suits in the evening, when he can only look at the cloth by gaslight, and discovers the next day how dreadful they suddenly look. Even worse, he gets sent insulting Christmas cards. Above all, he has a deplorable taste in excruciating jokes and puns. At a party, he says he hopes it won't be long before he meets Mr Short. His more tiresome acquaintances and neighbours include a Mr Gowing, who always seems to be coming, and a Mr Cumming - who is always going. Gowing not only comes, but is also a hooligan given to chucking food around at the supper table. Mr Pooter tries to remonstrate with him, only to be told that it's no good his trying to look indignant, with
his hair full of parsley. On learning of the amazing properties of enamel paint, he buys a tin of red, and paints their flower pots, coal scuttle, and the backs of their set of Shakespeare, as the bindings have almost worn out. Then he paints the bath. A few days later he gets a cold, and decides the answer is to have a hot bath. After soaking himself for some time, he takes his hand out of the water and finds his hand bleeding profusely. Has he ruptured an artery, and is he about to meet his maker? Oops, no - it was that damned enamel paint. And so on. As someone who has long been delighted by the humour of P.G. Wodehouse and more recently by the savage yet still screamingly hilarious Tom Sharpe, I finally got around to reading Grossmith about five years ago, and recently did so for the second time. Do you get the picture from the above? It's gentle, whimsical rather than side-splitting. And as you would expect, it's so old-fashioned that it seems to relate to, or open a picture on, a different world. Yet in spite of that, or perhaps because of that, it leaves you with a glow, a broad smile. If you can remember that far back, or have caught the occasional recent repeat on TV, you might draw parallels between Charles Pooter and Eric Sykes. The latter used to star in as well as write the scripts for a late 60s and early 70s sitcom, as an amiable, slightly accident-prone fool continually worsted by his more clever twin sister Hattie Jacques and supercilious neighbour Charles Brown (Richard Wattis). Maybe Eric modelled himself in part on the oh-so-ordinary but likeable Charles Pooter. The book started as a series of regular instalments in 'Punch' between 1888 and 1889, and was published in book form in 1892. Since then it has gone into many editions with several publishers, sometimes with just the text, sometimes with extensive introductions. My copy (Sutton Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0 7509 0986 2,
£9.99) has an extensive preface and appraisal, plus a generous selection of contemporary photographs of late Victorian life in London and suburbs. Alternatively, go for the Penguin Popular Classics edition (ISBN 0 14062 157 1, £1.00), which is probably the easiest to find. It has often been praised for the mirror it holds up to suburban, lower-middle-class life of its time. To that extent, it could be classed as a historical novel. Yet it will always be remembered first and foremost as a work of humour. Tame, unworldly perhaps, and not to everyone's taste. But unless the foregoing has put you off it completely, approach it with an open mind. You might be pleasantly won over by its charm - and find it a good deal of fun.
Published by Penguin Books