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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Falling down funny, perfectly pitched satire, December 28, 2011
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This review is from: The Diary of a Nobody (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Mr. Charles Pooter, a middle-class, middle-aged suburban Londoner in the late Victorian Era, decides to keep a diary. After all, it seems like everyone is publishing their diaries, so why shouldn't he? His only regret is that he had not begun the diary sooner. When part of the way through this hilarious story related through his daily entries it seems that someone ripped out several pages to use for fire kindling, he says to his loyal wife and impudent son that he had hoped the diary would be a fond remembrance of him after he died and possibly that having it published could bring them some remuneration. His loved ones cannot suppress their laughter.

The biggest joke is that in fact, this diary of a dedicated clerk in an old-fashioned accounting firm, who has done little else in his life and is quite comfortable with the status quo, is eternally priceless on for its comedy and what it reveals about the Victorian middle-class life and preoccupations that it satirizes. If Mr. Pooter and his friends represent a culture that has grown complacent and overly interested in its own hobby horses and etiquette, his adult son Lupin is the brash younger generation that seeks entertainment and gratification without apology, shaking off musty traditions. The Grossmith brothers--George largely wrote this and Weedon illustrated it as a magazine serial--had no idea that they were creating a historical document as much as a giddy entertainment.

The comedy is absolutely winning. The Grossmiths don't sell Mr. Pooter down the river entirely--they allow him competence at work, some self awareness and wounded dignity--but every diary entry usually sets up his hopes and schemes only to be reported as dashed in the next. Long before Rodney Dangerfield complained that he didn't get respect, Mr. Pooter had every right to cry that out as younger clerks, the neighbors, his son, his son's friends and the servants feel free to regularly contradict and insult him. There is plenty of physical comedy and fashion gone bad. And there is that voice of Mr. Pooter, at once plaintive, hopeful, clueless, sweet but not stupid, who always picks himself up after a fall.
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