Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review - George and Weedon Grossmith's The Diary of a Nobody

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
Published by: Prion Books
Publication Date: 1892
Format: Hardcover, 194 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy(different edition than one reviewed)

As Charles Pooter says: "Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never heard of, and I fail to see - because I do not happen to be a 'Somebody' -  why my diary should not be interesting. My only regret is that I did not commence it when I was a youth." And so begins a year in the life of Charles Pooter. From him and his wife Carrie dancing around the dining table. To guffaws with his dear friends Cummings and Gowings. To fracases with the obstinate Young Pitt at work. To their son showing up on their doorstep and then getting involved in an amateur dramatics society and an ill advised engagement. Things are all go at the Pooters. While he does have a lot to grumble about in his little suburban home, the fact of the matter is, Mr. Pooter, bumbling and befuddled though he might be, is also very content in his life. He takes joy in the little things, from discovering the wonders of enamel paint, note to self, don't use it on a tub, to laughing at his own attempts at humor. He might be a bit stuffy, but you can't help being carried away with it. You can see him sitting in his study repeatedly writing to the local newspaper because they insist on spelling his name wrong. I think it in fact a bit sad that his name has become synonymous with "taking oneself grotesquely seriously," aka, Pooterism. I mean, he does have a point with the whole fad of diary publication.

The thing that struck me most about this book was that, despite being written over a hundred years ago, it was very fresh and very au courant. How many autobiographies are printed a year? And many not even by celebrities, even if they do make up the majority. It was a little humorous glimpse into the little life of a man who, bluster though he may, has all he could ask for in life. How many people have that? I mean, everyone complains, Pooter is no exception. But he does admit to happiness. I also found it funny, while skipping over a period of a few months that someone was blamed for stealing pages of his diary. Obviously the brothers Grossmith most likely didn't have columns those months, this being originally serialized, so what better way to make a joke and cover your tracks. This book has a subtle charm, it's not the funniest thing you'll ever read, but I have a feeling that, were you to read it 100 years from now it would still be timely, bar a few colloquialisms of the day, it would still be popular, and probably still be in print.


Hmm, this looks interesting.

It was a fun and quick little read. I still have yet to watch the production with Hugh Bonneville. I <3 him!

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