34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
I had heard lots of good things about the Diary of a Nobody, but was not really sure I would enjoy this type of work so put off reading it. However, finally I got round to it and found a pleasant, amusing read which, whilst it didn't become one of my all time favourites, I am nevertheless glad I read. This edition contains not only the diary itself, but lots of the original illustrations created by Weedon Grossmith, which are delightful and really help to bring the characters and story to life, as well as giving you an idea of how literature was often presented in the 19th century.
Charles Pooter is a clerical worker who has worked at the same job in the same company for years. He has been overlooked for promotion throughout that time. He decides to keep a diary of his middle-class, run of the mill life. In that diary we meet his long-suffering wife Carrie, his son Willie who renames himself Lupin as he feels his real name is too common, some of his less than respectful colleagues and a number of his friends - most notably Gowing and Cummins.
He makes lots puns/jokes which he thinks are hysterical but are actually awful, and his complete obliviousness to this is actually very amusing. He has social aspirations which he can never quite realise. He is bothered by tradesmen who don't seem to take his social status seriously, and ensuing conflicts are very funny.
The diary is really an early example of the type of observational humour which many of our stand-up comics use today. The diary remains remarkably modern/funny even now, more than 100 years after it was first released. Many of the problems Pooter encounters are so familiar even now. He can't understand his son's use of language or lack of work ethic/social aspirations, his friends eat his food and drink his booze without returning the favour, the plumbing doesn't work and neither does the plumber seem to, he keeps banging his foot on the piece of household junk he persistently means to move but never gets round to, the neighbours throw rubbish into his garden and their kids are rude. He seems to have not an ounce of luck, and he is insulted/embarrassed or unintentionally offends those around him at every turn. And yet he is very likeable as throughout all this he strives to retain his dignity.
Whilst this is no great philosophic commentary on humanity, it does exactly what it sets out to. It gives you an amusing, entertaining glimpse into the ordinary life of an ordinary man. If nothing else, it will give you a good, light, non-challenging read whilst reassuring you that you are not the only one who seems to find normal life so frustrating! Well worth a read.
135 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2009
The Diary of a Nobody tells in diary form the story of a certain Mr Pooter, clerk by profession and a man of no importance or interest. He is somewhat pompous, dull, and stuffy, with pretensions towards gentility but lacking in social skills and self-awareness. He is quite a ridiculous figure, and one who is taken advantage of by many who he is pleased to call his friends, and mocked by his juniors at work. Additionally, all tradesmen are his nemeses. As he sets this down in his diary, however, Mr. Pooter is often oblivious to his own foolishness and to the impression he creates in others, and in the reader.
Mr. Pooter's son Lupin is the main source of incident in his father's life. He is a youth of high spirits and little respect for his elders, including his father. Lupin undertakes a love affair with a young lady called Daisy Mutlar; he is desperately in love with this young lady , who seems to Mr. Pooter to be of no remarkable attraction or accomplishments. Concurrent with this torrid affair, Lupin finds and loses several jobs, joins an amateur dramatics club and speculates on the stock exchange with his father's money.
Though over 100 years old, this book is still funny for the modern reader. It was written with the contemporary audience in mind but the humour has not dated. As another reviewer noted, Mr Pooter is something of a 19th century David Brent. The style is notably uncluttered and unaffected. It is a short book(145 pages approx. in this edition) and extremely readable. From a relatively uneventful start, it gathers momentum with the arrival of Lupin. Pooter's character broadens somewhat to become a decent everyman, though none the less ridiculous for that. This book ends long before the reader has had enough of the bumbling central character, and is a very pleasant, undemanding read.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2004
This heart-warming classic is a strong contender for the funniest book ever written. Read it immediately, then buy a second copy as a peace offering for your worst enemy - if it doesn't wipe the snarl off their face, they're a lost cause....
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2004
This is a wonderful book - I chuckled, smirked and slapped my head with delighted exasperation (whilst sitting on crowded commuter train - I am something in The City you know) at Pooter and his bewildered stumbling through the cosmic joke of his existence.
In some ways it is an 'old' book, the obsession with class and position drip through every page, with Pooters inept attempts to maintain or enhance his social position. But in many ways it is about the modern world - the alienated nobody, slogging away in an office, thinking he is better than this - when of course he isn't.
So glorious, that I am considering forming a religion based on the exquisite wisdom found inside this slim volume.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book is a little subtle - if you can't read in between the lines then you won't find it funny. If you can then the subtle humour can't help but amuse you. Pooter is lovable, ridiculous, pompous and trivial - a fully rounded character who is quite oblivious to how most of the world perceives him.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2009
Charles Pooter fails to see - because he does not 'happen to be a Somebody' - why his diary shouldn't be interesting, and he's absolutely right. His is a very interesting diary indeed. Small as it as (barely 120 pages in the Oxford World's Classics edition), and though written in a very easy to read style, without ever touching on anything but the most trivial subjects, it is still a very powerful portrait of a particular class in a particular age.
Charles Pooter and his wife have just moved to their new house in a London suburb when he decides to start keeping a diary. Day after day Charles jots down his notes and reflections on scores of things that matter to him: how they settle in in their new neighbourhood, the visits in the evenings of their friends Gowing and Cummings, the troubles concerning his son Lupin weighing on his mind, the relation with his boss Mr. Perkupp, ... And before long, as a reader you start getting a unique insight into the English middle-class of the 1880s, or virtually any age for that matter. After a while - when the laughter has died down - you start realizing what an extremely small (mental) world these people inhabit, and how their happiness depends on what are in themselves very trivial things.
Although at first sight their life is comfortable enough, and Charles Pooter likes a good laugh as much as the next person, there is always - lurking just slightly beneath the surface - a constant feeling of stress and anxiety. Charles Pooter's thoughts are dominated by 2 things only: to be considered respectable by his peers, and to fulfill the slightest wish of his betters (Mr. Perkupp seems in Pooter's eyes almost a sort of demi-god). But unfortunately for Pooter, and luckily for us, he's the type that often succeeds in making a fool of himself.
In the end it may all seem innocent fun, and though I laughed and amused myself with the mishaps in Charles Pooter's life, at times I couldn't but feel sad and sorry for him, and the nameless millions of people like him: doing their utmost to fit in, to keep up appearances, and living in constant stress because of it.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2008
I honestly never knoew that such an old book could be so hilarious! It's written in such a brilliant way that you can "see" it all happening - it very vivid. I think they should do a film of this! One of the best books I have read for a long time!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2010
Charles Pooter is a successful late Victorian clerk living in a well appointed town house in (then) fashionable Holloway. Charles has delusions of literary grandeur and he believes his diary to be a work of great literary significance. However, the joke is on Mr Pooter as his diary is merely a list of slights and petty grievances.
The book must have been quite subversive when people first read it. After all, wasn't the man meant to be the head of the household in the Victorian scheme of things, his word law? Pooters' diary can be read as merely a long list of things that he fails to control: his wayward son, Lupin. His wife, Carrie (who actually gets some of the best jokes), his domestic staff and his professional life. Pooter stands on his dignity and ends up falling flat on his face.
Pooter has become something of an archetype is British popular culture-you can glimpse him in later comic figures such as Anthony Hancock, Captain Mainwaring and Basil Fawlty. George and Weedon Grossmith have made an enduring fiction out of the stuff of life that still resonates today.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2003
Diary of a Nobody tells the story (in diary form) of Edwardian clerk Mr Charles Pooter. Mr Pooter is a roaring stereotype of the turn of the century, white-collar, lower-middle class to which he belongs, from his snobbish pomposity and sense of social importance, to his suburban home in Holloway (home: The Laurels). Pooter is a man out of his time, his ideals and attitudes are those of the mid 19th century when his position as clerk would have obtained for him the social respect that Pooter still clearly thinks he deserves. However, the Great Agricultural Depression meant that clerks positions were no longer as secure as they had been 30 years previously, while the spread of education and literacy meant that the rank of office clerk were considerably less exclusive or esteemed. Pooter completely fails to recognise this and much of the books humour stems from his inability to change with the times and his continuing bemusement as to why people he considers beneath him (his grocer, his cleaner, his son's friends) fail to show him the respect Pooter feels he deserves.
While much of the humour could be lost on those unfamilar with the finer points of contemporary Edwardian society, this does not mean that enjoyment of the book is exclusive. Pooter is a genuinely warm, well meaning character, completely recognisible to a 21st century audience. While the peiod may differ, many of the problems which cause Pooter such worry are exactly the same as today. He his constantly vexed by the behaviour of his son (the ridiculously named Lupin), friends (Cummings and Gowings) and his job.
All in all, Diary of a Nobody is an inoffensive yet heart warming tale. While it may seem dated, reading it definitely remains an amusing and worthwile way to spend an afternoon.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I remember reading and liking this novel a few years ago and when I chanced across it in the library decided to give it another go to see if it was as funny as I recalled. I personally found it even more enjoyable this time and have since downloaded it for free to my kindle so I have a permanent copy.
The book is set in late Victorian London and focuses on the affable Charlie Pooter, an ordinary middle aged man who believes himself much funnier than he actually is and feels that the world on some level is conspiring against him which is demonstrated by the mishaps he repeatedly gets himself into. Chronicling his mundane life through his diary, he recaps encounters with friends, family and acquaintances, believing that his journal will perhaps be a literary masterpiece, when in actuality it is more a continual record of people who have slighted him and a long list of his embarrassing gaffes.
If you enjoy subtle British humour and wry characterisations about snobbery and social climbing then this is definitely a book you should try. I loved practically everything about this novel, in particular Charlie's unfunny jokes and puns which he and seemingly everyone around him, found to be utterly hilarious but were more cringey than anything else. I feel for his son Lupin, really I do. In today's society Charlie would undoubtedly be that embarrassing dad who is the first one up jiving at a party or humiliating him with corny stories in front of his mates. He is a really believable individual who you can emphasise with for all his fau paux's and endeavours but one who you would probably try your best to avoid at social gatherings (sorry Mr Pooter).
As far as diaries go, this is most certainly worth a look and it is a novel that has really stood the test of time which proves how witty and well written it actually is. Recommended.