Gloria Mundi's Reviews > Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai Gogol
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The Diary of a Madman is a short story about a man's descent into madness. The hero, Poprishchin, is a middle aged minor civil servant obsessed with Sophie, the young and beautiful daughter of his boss, a senior official who stands on a much higher rank of the social ladder. As he begins to slide into insanity, the hero believes that he can hear a conversation between Madgie, Sophie's dog, and another dog and later steals letters written by Madgie to the other dog. The extracts from these letters and the hero's reaction to them were particularly hilarious.

Realising that the object of his affection is in love with a handsomer, younger and richer man and having learned that a donna is about to accede to the Spanish throne as there is no male heir, the hero suddenly realises that he is, in fact, the lost heir and, unsurprisingly, ends up in an insane asylum.

Poprishchin as drawn by Ilya Repin:



Gogol manages to be absurd and hilarious, while at the same time making a point about the self-delusional vain ideas we have about ourselves, which is still very much relevant today, and drawing a clever satire of the deep social divisions and beurocracy in 19th century Russia. And all in less than 30 pages.
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