This fictitious diary details fifteen months in the life of Mr. Charles Pooter, a middle aged city clerk of lower middle-class status but significant social aspirations. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith. Adobe PDF icon. Download this document as ronaldweinland.info: File size: MB What's this? light. Free eBook: The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith. The humors of English suburban life naively revealed by one Charles Pooter, a clerk, .
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All rights reserved. The Diary of a Nobody. Arrowsmith Ltd. First Edition, June, Reprinted, April, Reprinted, May, Second Edition, September,
The 'Diary of a Nobody' ran from in the popular satirical magazine 'Punch' and became a huge success. The authors were brothers, George and Weedon Grossmith. George was probably the main writer and his brother Weedon drew the illustrations. The content, however, is very probably a 'joint effort', for it satirises many Victorian attitudes and values and since both men had careers in the performing arts, it is entirely probable that they collaborated on the creation of the hapless Charles Pooter and his family.
The form of the novel is interesting, and very topical for a contemporary Victorian audience, used to reading accounts of 'famous lives' written in the form of lengthy journals and often published by so-called 'vanity presses' the authors would pay the printers to publish their work.
Charles Pooter, the 'Nobody' of the title, is a middle aged clerk who lives in North London in the late 's. He decides to keep a diary of his life and assures the reader at the outset that he 'fails to see - because I do not happen to be a Somebody - why my diary should not be interesting.
Pooter is definitely not a 'Somebody' - he is a very ordinary man with a very tedious and ordinary existence in a London suburb, but he has an immense amount of self importance, which is the character trait in other writers which the Grossmiths are satirising in this novel.
It would be reasonable to assume that Pooter's diary would reveal him to be a thoroughly odious character, but the opposite is true. Pooter is one of the most sympathetic and enduring characters of British comic fiction, described in the Daily Telegraph in as a 'moral archetype' and a 'decent fellow'.
Just to be fair, though, the Guardian described the character as a 'crashing bore'! Have a think about target audiences for each paper and you might get some ideas about what Pooter 'stands for' as far as readers are concerned. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary terms defines satire in a modest entry that runs to five closely printed sides, but you need to have an idea of what satire is to get to grips with this book and with 'Adrian Mole' coming soon on a different page near you so I'll condense what the Penguin says if I can.
What the Penguin says: Satire is a 'sort of glass as in a mirror wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own' - Jonathan Swift. A satirist is a 'guardian of standards, ideals and truths' someone who tries to correct, criticise or ridicule the stupid things in society, so that they are highlighted and so that others can feel contempt and laugh at them. In other words, a satirist lets you see what is silly or ridiculous or wrong with the world we live in by making it laughable.
Satire is a form of protest, in other words. If you are confused, then try thinking of satire as a 'send-up' of something. By 'sending it up' the satirist shows the audience how 'wrong' stupid, silly, cruel, unjust Satire can be gentle, or it can be incisive and savage, it all depends on the satirist and how passionate he feels about the standard, ideal or truth he is 'guarding'.
The Grossmiths satirise many things in Victorian society, but their satire is, on the whole, quite gentle. They poke fun at self-important people, like Pooter himself, but as we have said, mainly at the pompous 'Somebodies' and their tedious diaries. They also 'send up' Victorian fashions and trends, like cycling Cummings's life seems to revolve around the 'Bicycle News' , spiritualism and Aestheticism we'll deal with them in more detail later. The Diary is also a detailed portrait of the Victorian class system and it is here that we may see a slightly more pointed satirical purpose.
The snobbishness of the suburban middle class and the new trend towards financial speculation and consumerism are sharply satirised in Pooter's dealings with 'tradesmen' and in Lupin's relationships with Murray Posh and Daisy Mutlar and his wheeling and dealing on the stock market.
The plot You may still use the term, although it's probably better to talk about the 'narrative' or the 'narrative structure' for this exam, because it gives a wider scope for you to consider not only what happens the events but also how the writer chooses to present the events. The events of Charles Pooter's life, recorded in his diary are very mundane indeed.
He is a clerk, working in a London office we never find out exactly what business the office does, but it is not really important that we are told, because almost all the events Pooter recounts happen outside the office and involve work only peripherally.
At the start of the diary, Pooter has moved into a new house in Holloway. At the time of writing, Holloway was a 'suburb' of London - now it is part of what we would call the 'inner city'. We are given details of his daily life over a period of 15 months, from April 3rd to July 3rd and a very banal, tedious and unimaginative life it is. Pooter records the routines of work and home and a number of social events he and his family and friends attend.
There are many embarrassing mishaps but they are all trivial in the extreme, e. Pooter's world is comfortable and his mishaps are caused by ordinary situations. There is no mention of political events or any specific current events of the time. The 'action' of the story occupies a very narrow canvas of inner London suburbs Peckham, Muswell Hill, Holloway with one excursion to Broadstairs for the family's annual holiday.
Pooter has small ambitions, being asked to take round the collection plate at church is a very important thing to him, for example. His greatest ambition is to have his son working in the same office as he does - 'following in his footsteps'.
The novel is also set in a very tight class system, with Pooter's boss, Mr Perkupp well and truly 'above' Pooter and the tradesmen and servants in Pooter's eyes at least well and truly 'below' Pooter.
It is a stable and very narrow world. We will deal later in more detail with events chapter by chapter Pooter's character He is a contradiction - vain, naive, prim, mean, pompous, gullible, snobbish and conceited but at the same time hard-working, loyal, decent and honest.
Pooter is desperate to be thought of as witty and sophisticated a 'Somebody' but is really gauche and very clumsy. His friends delight in playing jokes on him and he is the butt of the young clerks in his office, who throw balls of paper at him when his back is turned. His wife, the long-suffering Carrie not very well defined in the novel sometimes finds him irritating, but also seems to value his loyalty and devotion to her and Lupin.
Lupin is a little more impatient but there is still a strong indication that he thinks well of the 'old man'. Pooter never does anything dishonest or criminal and his family and boss think he is a 'good man'.
Despite his mistakes and his pomposity, the reader warms to him as the novel progresses. He is quite a stereotypical 'patsy' and you could note that the Grossmiths use a recognisable theatrical device here - the buffoon or clown figure of farce - the character who always ends up in a compromising situation, or whose trousers fall down in public.
We laugh at him, but sympathise with him at the same time.
The authors use classic 'foils' for Pooter in the form of the family characters and a variety of friends and acquaintances, although the only fully developed character is Pooter's son, Willy who decides to change his name to 'Lupin' when he comes home from his job in Oldham. Lupin's characteristics are the exact opposite to those of his father Charles.
He is feckless and unreliable moving from job to job, enjoying a very hectic social life and joining an amateur theatrical company called the 'Holloway Comedians' a stage career was thought to be very 'fast' and not at all respectable in Victorian times.
He has a casual attitude to life and money and his habits are a constant source of worry to Pooter and Carrie. Lupin is a spendthrift, while his father is tight-fisted. Lupin is disrespectful of 'form' his father is painfully conventional about it.
Lupin does not want a 'safe' place in society and is not content to work as his father has done for a long time in the same place for a small salary. In short, Lupin embodies the young man 'on the make' and both Victorian and contemporary twenty first century audiences would recognise the type very easily.
Lupin is looking forward to the new century - his father and mother are firmly rooted in the old. The values of the last decade of the 19th century were 'perversity, artificiality, egoism and curiosity' according to a writer of the time W Le Gallienne and Lupin embodies them all.
Read what Mr Huttle, the American dinner guest says to Pooter at the dinner party chapter 20 and see how much Lupin belongs to the world Huttle describes than the one inhabited by his father.
The Diary as a form of satire The form of the diary is that of 'mocking making fun of folly foolishness '. The humour comes from the hero's reaction to his situations, not from the readers' delight at the things that happen to him.
You could use the German word schadenfreude, i. We laugh at the blunders, not the man. We sympathise with him, we don't feel happy that he's suffering. Satirisation of Victorian trends more detail the 'very important diary' - late Victorian and very common - famous people writing memoirs in diary or journal form. Punch magazine ran several spoof diaries at the time 'Nobody' was written. These publications often contained a mass of trivial and mundane details. They all have a very tightly defined world.
You can see that the form is not new - Adrian Mole is very similar and so is Bridget Jones. Cycles were the first form of mass produced, affordable personal transport and enabled people to travel four times faster than walking speed.
This increased the opportunity for people to travel a range of forty miles, sometimes. The railways took bikes in the Guard's van so people could go even further afield on cycling holidays.
Cummings, Pooter's friend seems to spend a great deal of time cycling and the Grossmiths poke gentle fun at his cycling obsession when his various illnesses are 'reported in the Bicycle News'.
There were any number of ways that a person could indulge in this odd belief. Pooter's scepticism and his fascination are very accurately reported. The movement was a 'counter-culture' a revolt against cheap mass production and standardising. Its motto was 'art for art's sake'. The main target of satire against the Aesthetes was the writer and poet Oscar Wilde. The poor soul was widely ridiculed, not least because he once painted his house white in different shades.
Pooter paints everything red then black and this was almost certainly intended as a satire of Wilde's white house. Carrie's 'slate coloured paper and white ink' and the little frogs and things she and Mrs James put on the mantelpiece are also intended to satirise the fashion for 'artistic' interior design. Think Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen - get the idea? He looks down on people he believes to be lower down the social scale, like tradesmen and servants he would be a 'white collar' worker and would automatically regard himself a superior to someone 'in trade' The Victorian class system was rigidly defined and it was not easy to move between classes.
Position was defined not only by profession but also by address. Pooter lives in suburbia, traditionally the location of the lower middle classes. These residential areas developed rapidly in Victorian times, assisted by the development of the railways, allowing people to commute to London to work.
Holloway, where Pooter lives, was inhabited mostly by white collar workers, clerks who worked in offices in the City of London , at the beginning of the 's. It was an area of little wealth - clerks were not well paid, and there were few facilities. Pooter's house has 'flourishes', a baroque portico at the front door and an elevated living room, so that he can feel 'above' the tradesmen, but it is rented - the family does not own the property and it is very small the door is taken off to accommodate the guests at the party.
In fact the suburbs were a place of inferior status in Victorian times and Pooter's pretensions are all the more pathetic because he believes that his status is really quite high. Note the pretension of the name 'The Laurels' and how this is contrasted subtly with the cracked wall at the bottom of the back garden where the railway line runs and the peeling paint on the doors.
As soon as Lupin acquires a decent job and some income he moves out of Holloway and into a West End address in Bayswater because Holloway is a 'bit off'. Note also the constant references to people as being of the 'better sort' and the way that Pooter seeks out opportunities to socialise with them and see also how the authors subtly indicate that these people the Poshes and the Mutlars and so on are really not as honourable or as scrupulous as Pooter assumes them to be.
In passing you could also comment on the invention of character names to play on social aspirations or character idiosyncrasies, like Mr Perkupp, Mr Posh, Mr Gowing 'going' and Mr Cummings 'coming' - note how Pooter uses puns which are doubly funny because of his ignorance and the readers' recognition of the Grossmiths' jokes.
Note the grandiose name 'The Laurels' contrasted with the 'cracked wall' at the back, caused by the railway. Victorian society, social class and self-importance are just some of the themes explored in these humorous, yet strikingly familiar everyday situations.
The wits and creativity with which Grossmith cautiously illustrates Victorian society and its synthetic values throughout the novel, is what truly marks the novel as a work of genius.
For it is the empty vessels that make the most sound. MP3 Download Download mp3 files for each chapter of this book in one zip file Wikipedia — The Diary of a Nobody.
Wikipedia — George Grossmith. Wikipedia — Weedon Grossmith. Timothy - August 21, Subject: Just Ok I really like the story and the guy who is reading the story but I had to stop at chapter 4 because I was feeling stressed as it went along.
There were some sarcastic parts in it that made me feel stressed. I am disappointed because I thought it might be a book I love. San - April 12, So enjoyed this story - hated it to end. Stef - September 23, Subject: Book I didn't know what to expect when I decided to open this book. I was VERY surprised! I thought this book was a hoot! The reader was spot on!
Loved it - April 29, Subject: Reader is superb This is a very funny book, especially if you like dry humor. We should like to see more of him.
Now for my diary:— April 3. By-the-by, that reminds me there is no key to our bedroom door, and the bells must be seen to.
April 4. Tradesmen still calling; Carrie being out, I arranged to deal with Horwin, who seemed a civil butcher with a nice clean shop.
Ordered a shoulder of mutton for to-morrow, to give him a trial. In the evening, Cummings unexpectedly dropped in to show me a meerschaum pipe he had won in a raffle in the City, and told me to handle it carefully, as it would spoil the colouring if the hand was moist. Must get the scraper removed, or else I shall get into a scrape. April 5. Gowing called, and fell over scraper coming in. Must get that scraper removed.
April 6. Sarah said Mr. In the evening, hearing someone talking in a loud voice to the servant in the downstairs hall, I went out to see who it was, and was surprised to find it was Borset, the butterman, who was both drunk and offensive.
I restrained my feelings, and quietly remarked that I thought it was possible for a city clerk to be a gentleman. When he had gone, I thought of a splendid answer I ought to have given him.