. . . Grossmith

. . .


Before us webloggers got going -- even before Dave Winer -- when readers wanted to watch pompous asses unknowingly humiliate themselves in public, they turned to Charles Pooter's The Diary of a Nobody (ed. and ill. by George and Weedon Grossmith).

Warning: Apparently this was before Jakob Nielsen, too; Pooter's home page is one big hunk of text over 200k long! So download it and look at it offline at your leisure. Since it can also function as a learn-by-example instruction manual on how to maintain self-esteem when you're a clumsy snob with a boring job and friends who you don't like and who don't like you, I found it a great commute read: empowering!

I'm sorry to say that, aside from that 200k+ of bare words, the Web hasn't been particularly forthcoming about the Diary. Virtually every search result I got was just another legal or pirated copy of the Gutenberg text, complete with the obvious OCR typo on the first page ("my clear wife," which makes it sound like a Tom Cruise interview or something). Topics for future research include:

Mr. Pooter
Artist's conception

  1. Weedon Grossmith got full collaborative credit for his illustrations ("AS ORIGINALLY SEEN IN PUNCH!"), but no one's been nice enough to scan any in. The nearest I've found is a hideous still from Ken Russell's TV adaptation.

  2. Although the prose is certainly varnished differently, a lot of the Diary couldn't help but remind me of Ulysses's Bloom episodes. And it was a big bestseller during James Joyce's childhood.... The Grossmiths aren't mentioned in Ellman's Joyce biography, but a link might be documented elsewhere.
To be continued after I get to a university library....

. . .

Fulfilling an old pledge, Kokonino now hosts an illustrated edition of The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, formatted and corrected from the Project Gutenberg edition originally scanned and proofed by David Price; apply liberally as needed.

. . .

Invidious comparisons

Eagle-eyed Juliet Clark plucks this juicy hank o' middlebrow from Lewis Lapham's column in the September 2001 Harper's:

"Because the schools serve a spiritual and political purpose instead of an intellectual idea, they cannot afford to make invidious comparisons between the smart kids and the dumb kids, between the kids who read Shakespeare's plays and those who watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Elsewhere, another professional pundit does his dirty job of turning a short paragraph into a full column. (And I regret to say that my weblog compeers, those gay betrayers, are not linking to the original....)


Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.