Says Charles Pooter, “I fail to see—because I do not happen to be a ‘somebody’—why my diary should not be interesting.” Surprisingly, Mr. Pooter’s life is fascinating. The fascination is two-fold: firstly, his astounding arrogance that we should care about his domestic trivia and narcissistic scribblings. Secondly, we can all sympathize with (and wince at!) this ridiculous slave to convention.
Above all, Mr. Pooter’s life is funny. His constant battles with tradesmen, his pathetic pride and banal wit, his clashes with his carefree son, his absurd social crises and petty dilemmas: all are part of Mr. Pooter’s life as a worried, proud, and anxious Nobody! Listeners are certain to learn why Hilaire Belloc asserted that Pooter was “an immortal achievement.”
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"The Diary of a Nobody is so self-effacing, unobtrusive and natural a piece of work, that missing it completely could be forgiven, well almost. It is a thoroughly obscure piece of writing armed with a unique format that provides for riveting comedy instinctive to the writer, which cannot but make this seem like a very peculiar achievement, a masterpiece nonetheless, albeit a seemingly accidental masterpiece. This idiosyncratic achievement that went horridly right is the diary of a Charles Pooter, a nobody to himself and others, who asserts his right to record events despite of it (I'm afraid the 'in spite' is reserved only for the Grossmiths). I explored his I had teas and Sent my dress-coats with rapt attention, experiencing it, not mocking it. This social failure, patriarch failure is so comic in his manners, in his daily existence without any intention to be so that all I did was laugh as is human, and sorrowfully identify with him, as is also human. I guffawed at Pooter's self-important absurdity, along with his friends and cad of a son, Lupin, but in a manner suggesting that Pooter and his unconscious gaffes are refreshing and even lovable. Deviating from much of British writing that is tainted with snobbery, the writers do not patronise this hapless clerk, there is no hint of facile aspirations as there is no invitation to laugh at social gaffes, the response elicited is very much dependent on the reader, more that anything else. After reading through Waughs and Kiplings and 1970 working-class lit., this lack of snobbery and reverse snobbery is refreshing, it's earnestness, or lack of it, shining through. The book itself is pleasant and undemanding. Pooter's errors are manifestations of our own, his idiosyncracies relatable and his profound anguish on being though of as a complete and utter dunce - mirror-like!, confirming that we are all nobodys (bringing to trial if there is indeed a somebody) thus, makes this book an ironical self-indulgence."
Tenzin (5 out of 5 stars)