Grossmith’s comic novel unveils the daily chronicles of the pompous and clumsy middle-aged clerk Charles Pooter, who has just moved to the London suburb of Holloway with his wife Carrie. Nonetheless, the family’s fresh start is not quite what they had in mind. Set in the late Victorian era, the diary accurately documents the manners, customs, trends and experiences of the time. First appearing in Punch magazine through the years 1888-89, The Diary of a Nobody was first published in book form in 1892 and has entertained readers ever since. Written as diary entries, the novel records the daily mishaps and follows the humiliations of the Pooter family. Life in the Pooter household consists of busy interactions, endless renovations and mundane chores, giving the impression of an ordinary functioning family. However, it is this simplicity that ignites humor as the scenarios are played out. The social ladder is of key importance in the novel, as the Pooters high social aspirations are depicted through their humorous attempts to conceal their lower middle class status. Unsurprisingly, their attempts backfire and only make them look more ridiculous in the eyes of their acquaintances. Pooter’s obliviousness and pretentious behavior is often the core of his minor feuds and public acts of humiliation. Moreover, fuel is added to the fire when the reckless Lupin suddenly appears at his parent’s doorstep and merely sheds more light and embarrassment on the household. Throughout the satire, Pooter is nothing less than a magnet for trouble and must face the never ending cycle of social gatherings, home renovations and finding solutions to work and family differences. 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.
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