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The Diary of a Nobody (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 8 May 2008
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The funniest book in the world (Evelyn Waugh)
The funniest book I know (William Trevor Mail on Sunday) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
'Why should I not publish my diary? 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' Charles Pooter --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
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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.
Written by Charles Pooter we see he is a clerk, married, and in the course of this tale their grown-up son comes to live with them. This thus puts the family in the lower middle class echelon, but as with so many such persons they do aspire to a higher social status. With a servant, and another part-time help so the family live in Holloway in a new villa.
Mr Pooter certainly takes himself too seriously, thus giving us the expression pooterism, but he is a loyal and loving husband and we can see that he works hard. In some ways this shows not only class structure but also the changes that were starting to be felt throughout the country as we headed towards the Edwardian age, so although we still have the likes of Spiritualism and people regularly attending church on a Sunday, we also see through one character, who has his mishaps mentioned in the Bicycle News, the popularity of cycling at the time. We also read of our narrator’s attempts at DIY, and other newer thoughts and innovations emerging.
Not only a social comedy but also having some elements of slapstick this is always a pleasure to read and has been enjoyed by many over the years. I think any family can relate in parts to this tale, and we do wonder if the son will do better than the father, both financially and career wise, after all it is always encouraging when children grow up, settle down and make something of themselves.