The Diary of a Nobody
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The Diary of a Nobody

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  5,018 ratings  ·  429 reviews
Weedon Grossmith's 1892 book presents the details of English suburban life through the anxious and accident-prone character of Charles Porter. Porter's diary chronicles his daily routine, which includes small parties, minor embarrassments, home improvements, and his relationship with a troublesome son. The small minded but essentially decent suburban world he inhabits is b...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 136 pages
Published July 15th 2008 by Oxford University Press (first published 1892)
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MJ Nicholls
11 April

Sat down to write a capsule review of The Diary of a Nobody. Interrupted by a loving thump at the door. It was Mark Nicholls from my review of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, a piece of spoof metafiction that ranks as my most liked GR review. I studied my 23-year-old self carefully then looked at my 25-year-old self and noted nothing had changed facially in two years except I was even more handsomely bespectacled. “Would you like to buy a copy of . . . ?” he began, bu...more
Jonathan Stephenson
Brilliant! A book filled with unimportant characters, not about anything in particular, in which nothing much happens. Well not exactly, this is a satire on being ordinary.

Admittedly modern readers may not find it as funny as when it was first published in Punch in the late 19th century, as the context and detail of Victorian middle-class values that it parodies are no longer an immediately understood reference point and tastes in, as well as expectations of, humour have moved on. What it pokes...more
Scott
Bumbling Charles Pooter's memoir of timeless suburban angst The Diary of a Nobody (1892) remains remarkably modern and amusing even a century after it was first printed in Punch. Pooter can't understand his son's slang or dismal work ethic ... his wife is spellbound by new age spiritualism ... his friends continually clean out his larder and drain his wine bottles without reciprocating ... the plumbing doesn't work ... the neighbors throw garbage into his garden ... and fate seems determined to...more
Margaret
I'd had this for a while and thought it would make good paired reading with Three Men on a Boat, as they're both considered classics of British humor of about the same era. George Grossmith is perhaps best known as a long-time star of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, performing the comic baritone roles (Ko-Ko, Major-General Stanley, Sir Joseph Porter) in Gilbert and Sullivan's operas; his brother Weedon was largely an artist.

Their hero, Charles Pooter, is an ordinary middle-class clerk in London...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Funny enough to keep me reading it to the end, but not funny enough to make me do anything else except to occasionally smile to myself.

Originally published on instalments in a magazine from May, 1888 to May 1889 this is the diary of the fictional Charles Pooter who justified keeping and publishing it in an Introductions where he said:

"Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see--because I do not happen to be a 'Somebo...more
Lorenzo Berardi
It is with the uttermost pleasure that I read through the diary of Mr Charles Pooter of Holloway, London.
Mark my words, this gentleman was certainly not a Nobody.

I am aware that the excellent Mrs Pooter and the author's own son, Mr Lupin Pooter, didn't value the diary much. Nonetheless, it is my strong belief that they are both mistaken in this respect.

By Jove! This distinguished gentleman - which is to say Mr Charles Pooter - not only mastered his business in the City but knew very well how...more
Ivonne Rovira
Thirty years before Sinclair Lewis published Babbit and set the standard for smug, self-important middle-class conformity, there was The Diary of a Nobody and Charles Pooter. Pooter, a senior bank clerk in the City renting a home in the London suburb of Holloway, encapsulates Victorian respectability, snobbery, and pretensions. Pooter nearly invariably gets the short end of the stick in his interactions with his two neighbors, Cummings and Gowings; his spendthrift, reckless son Lupin; and the va...more
Grace Harwood
"Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see - because I do not happen to be a 'Somebody' - why my diary should not be interesting."

And thank goodness that Charles Pooter, ordinary clerk and Victorian family man decided to follow this course. The humour is gentle but had me in stitches at times and is still as funny today as it must have been for its contemporary audience of Punch readers in the 1890s. One is torn bet...more
pinknantucket
Well I have to say this book didn’t quite live up to Evelyn Waugh’s testimonial on the back cover: “The funniest book in the world”. Mind you, Waugh did write Brideshead Revisited, so he wasn’t exactly a laugh-a-minute kind of guy. Maybe he had lower standards when it came to humour than the rest of us. In fact, were Waugh still about today, I’d write him a terse but witty note and ask him to refund my purchase money. Not that it was a terrible book or anything, it was well-written, and somewhat...more
Jade Heslin
This book had me in stitches. Mixing the hilarity of puns (the BEST form of comedy) with the humorously uneventful diary entries of a Victorian Gentleman makes for terrific reading. Mr. Pooter is undoubtedly one of the best comic characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. His failed attempts at witticisms filled me with joy, for at least I found him funny, if no one else did.
How can you not love this man?:

“He said he wouldn’t stay, as he didn’t care much for the smell of the paint...more
Hugo Emanuel
Um divertido retrato da vida que nos é "pintado" através do diário fictício de um escriturário de categoria média dado a frequentes "faux-pas" sociais cujas desventuras acabam por servir como uma cáustica sátira não só das aspirações e modo de vida da classe média britânica da época mas também da inundação do mercado literário pela publicação de diários (publicações estas frequentemente pagas pelos próprio autores destes através da chamada "Vanity Press")que pareciam não ter outro propósito de e...more
Tenzin
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,...more
Sunny in Wonderland
READ ME READ ME READ ME

May 16
I'm floored - positively flabbergasted - that I've never heard of this book until now. It took my looking for something to read from my list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.This is the hysterically funny account of Mr. Pooter, a typical, suburban, middle-class Englishman written in the late 1800s. And yet, it rarely read like a "classic" - it felt contemporary.

May 17
It reminded me a lot of a movie called The Money Pit with Tom Hanks in the beginning as M...more
Norm
I downloaded this to my Kindle kinda,sorta by accident, and when I started reading it I was pleasantly surprised at how well a contemporary author caught the colloquialisms, manner and speech of 1800's England ... then I felt like a bit of a fool when I found out it had been,in fact, written in the 1800's.

My bad.

That said (as the red begins to fade from my blush), this was a great book.. about relatively nothing ... by a supercilious ass ... with no great protagonist ... no overriding plot ... l...more
Willis
Interesting read. It's not exciting or dazzling. It is "Seinfeld" in Victorian times. It is about nothing: just a man keeping a diary of his days. He and his wife live very ordinary, middle-class lives. He works for a financial firm. She keeps house. They live simply. Appearances are important to them, not only for his work but for their standing in the community. Their adult son moves back in with them (common in today's world), and his lifestyle, speech, and attitude is very different from his...more
Rupert Smith
Comic novels feature prominently in my life, on the basis that there’s enough pain and misery in life without having to read about it all the time. Whenever someone offers me the latest heart-rending, soul-shattering tale of loss and grief I usually say ‘thank you very much’ and reach for something like The Diary of a Nobody. It’s one of those books that just gets funnier the more you read it, and things that seemed pointless or banal at first glance become hysterical. Originally published in se...more
Kylie
This is an excellent, light and amusing read. I wouldn't say it's laugh-out-loud funny, but it certainly had me smiling a lot, which is quite a feat.

Charles Pooter is a loveable and slightly old-fashioned, bumbling character, whose diary chronicles his life over the period of a year or so. He's a middle-class man who enjoys a pun (while the puns themselves are not uproariously funny, his reactions and elatedness at thinking them up are pretty amusing).

He (usually) enjoys the company of his frien...more
Jonathan Goddard
I loved this book right from the opening lines:

'Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see - because I do not happen to be a 'Somebody' - why my diary should not be interesting.'

Charles Pooter's narrative remains extremely witty throughout, and provided me with many very good laughs. I liked all the main family: our narrator Charlie, middle-aged, suburban dwelling, white-collar worker whose greatest dream is to have...more
Jonathan
Do you have trouble with servants and the grocer's boy? Do you find it difficult understanding the youth of today? What with their slang and modern approach to life. Do you find it difficult to adhere to the correct etiquette and find that you inadvertently offend everyone? Then you just might identify with the 'hero' of this satirical novel - Mr. Charles Pooter.

This novel is a mild satire of a Victorian lower middle-class clerk and is very readable - I read most of it on the bus to and from wo...more
Scurra
It's often difficult to read books that in their day were pioneers of certain forms of literature, because now they often feel dated. It's even harder with books that are pastiches when the things they are satirising are long forgotten.

But somehow the woes of Mister Pooter are still funny, even when the precise social nuances are almost meaningless to us today. I think that's partly because the characters are so recognisable (the social structures may have changed, but human nature hasn't) and w...more
Deanna
This was an interesting little book. I listened to it, read in a nice, stuffy English accent. All the time I was listening, I thought it must be a sort of spoof on the Dickens/Austen-type books that go on and on about the daily life of the gentry in England. At the end of the tapes, it explained that this was first published in 1852, so right at the same time as Dickens, and thus it really was a satire of the time, making fun of the stuffy "gentry" books by detailing the life of a humble middle-...more
Ben Loory
Apr 02, 2009 Ben Loory rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lara, patty, mo
when evelyn waugh called this book "the funniest book in the world," what he meant was: this book is really fuckin' funny! it's a little too extemporaneous and sketch-y for me to give it 5 stars, but on the other hand i suppose its looseness is one of its charms. it purports to be the diary of a man named charles pooter... and i think that pretty much sums it up... the world is full of ridiculous people doing idiotic things, all of them taking themselves way too seriously.
Michele
What a strange little book! Written in the 1800s, it is exactly what it purports to be - the nobody being the main character, Mr. Pooter whose name describes him well. It was certainly not an uproarious read, but it was amusing. It gets four stars for touching every day issues that we all deal with on occasion in a very light-hearted manner and allowing us to live through the uncomfortable situations that Mr. Pooter finds himself in. The book reminds me of a Seinfeld setting, but Mr. Pooter is m...more
Marts  (Thinker)
The most humorous accounts of the daily activities of a city clerk called Mr. Pooter... Pooter decides to keep a diary in which he records the events of a few months in the lives of his wife Carrie, son Lupin, friends and acquantances, and himself...
A most delightful read!!!
Anushree Rastogi
It's not high-brow literature. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, if that's what you're looking for. It's the story of middle-class aspirations, their absurdity and sometimes their heart-warming selflessness.
Marin Popa
Lightly and restrainedly funny, it took me into the past where I discovered that in many ways the middle class life is still the same.
I sympathised with Mr Pooter travails and despite him being so English I felt we have so many things in common. Even the two Lupins of my own are almost the same.
And yes, I am bland with low aspirations but I am overjoyed when, once or twice a year I crack "a good joke".

I loved the illustrations like the ones in the old Jules Verne books I used to read. All book...more
Jan-Maat
Aug 06, 2011 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the light hearted
For me this is a bit like Three Men in a Boat and I don't feel that some great moments add up to a great book.

It's a comic book in the form of the diary of a senior bank clerk who records the trials and tribulations of his late Victorian life.

The idea is that you find his self-importance and occasional pomposities amusing and it helps to be socially superior to characters of this sort for the book to work. I'm of too low a social class to be as thoroughly amused as the target audience, for insta...more
Brendan
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Charles Pooter, our narrator, records his daily life with a stoicism and sincerity that makes its humor all the funnier. While he isn’t as boorish as David Brent, he has the same sense of self-importance and blindness to his faults that Gervais’ character had. He records slights and indignities in ways that reflect the worst in his own behavior.

* Particularly amusing is his inflated sense of his letter-writing ability. One letter, which he sent to a laundress aft...more
Chrystal
George Grossmith has left us a delightfully funny account of a bank clerk's daily affairs over the course of a year in 1880's England. Fortunately for readers in the modern era, this book is still in print and will continue to be a source of pleasure for many generations to come. Mr. Pooter's diary deals with daily events, from which we glean many details about his friends and family. Mr. Pooter is a very proper bank clerk who is hilarious when he does not mean to be - his honest descriptions of...more
CheshRCat
I got interested in George Grossmith after seeing the 1999 film Topsy-Turvy--he created the comic baritone roles in almost all of Gilbert and Sullivan's celebrated operettas. I picked this book up from the library because a) it looked amusing and b) I recognized the author's name. It did not disappoint.

Diary of a Nobody tells the story of utterly ordinary, lower-middle-class clerk Charles Pooter. His adventures follow no particular story arc, but are episodic (due to its origin as a serial in P...more
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George Grossmith was an English comedian, writer, composer, actor, and singer. His performing career spanned more than four decades. As a writer and composer, he created 18 comic operas, nearly 100 musical sketches, some 600 songs and piano pieces, three books and both serious and comic pieces for newspapers and magazines. Grossmith is best remembered for two aspects of his career. First, he creat...more
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“He may wear what he likes in the future, for I shall never drive with him again. His conduct was shocking. When we passed Highgate Archway, he tried to pass everything and everybody. He shouted to respectable people who were walking quietly in the road to get out of the way; he flicked at the horse of an old man who was riding, causing it to rear; and, as I had to ride backwards, I was compelled to face a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart, whom Lupin had chaffed, and who turned and followed us for nearly a mile, bellowing, indulging in coarse jokes and laughter, to say nothing of occasionally pelting us with orange-peel.” 0 likes
“I told Sarah not to bring up the blanc-mange again for breakfast. It seems to have been placed on our table at every meal since Wednesday… In spite of my instructions, that blanc-mange was brought up again for supper. To make matters worse, there had been an attempt to disguise it, by placing it in a glass dish with jam round it...I told Carrie, when we were alone, if that blanc-mange were placed on the table again I should walk out of the house.” 0 likes
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