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The Diary of a Madman 
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
This was probably the most amusing story in the Penguin edition. I'm not going to read the government inspector as I'm not a fan of reading plays. Besides I'm done with Gogol for now. Putting him up.

This story was just plain fun and very well written. Again, the main character has a certain ambition and winds up in a worse spot than where he was before the story began. At least in this story the main character actually THINKS he's in a better place. So that's a small consolation. All hail the King of Spain. hehe.



Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:29 am
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
Don't know what to make of this story. There certainly is a progression to this man's madness, he holds down a job, he lives in a home with a servant, but something happens. Maybe life happens.

The "dog" letters seem to be a catalyst in his spiral into madness, but I am stymied about what these letters mean. I'm thinking that they may have been actual conversations by people at one time, that the dogs were once people in the life of this madman, and he is remembering these people through dogs. I'm also thinking that one of the dogs represents him. Maybe I'm just thinking too much, and am not enjoying the story for the "mad" story it is.

I am reminded of the old sterotype of madmen believing they are Napoleon when he starts to think of himself as the King of Spain. It was hilarious when the madman mentions how quick the trip to Spain was. Actually, I did find myself laughing quite a bit, so Gogol has lived up to his reputation.



Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:32 pm
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
What amazes me when I read some of the old classics is the difference in the perception of time. They seemed to have more of it in the past; there was no rush. Today I find it difficult to imagine coming home from work, and spending the evening laying on a bed, as Gogol describes. My twenty-first century nervous system would be agonizing for a reading/ news/ video/ computer fix. When I read Moby Dick, I found myself exasperated at times, as Melville seemed in no hurry to go anywhere, and had innumerable sidetracks to his story. But I guess this is a reflection of the times these authors lived in. They were not rushed or eternally sidetracked by all kinds of external input, and so paced themselves, and had time to embellish and analyze at length.


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Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:04 am
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
One thing I found especially intriguing about this short story was the idea that things are what they appear to be. We see this in the beginning of the story, when the madman says "Our director must be a very intelligent man. His whole study is lined with books" (p. 4). The madman clearly takes everything at face value, and does not attempt to delve any further into the director's character. He does the same thing with women, which is interesting in and of itself. Perhaps Gogol's point is that basing things on appearances helps to keep the aristocracy running while simultaneously running the lower class citizens into madness.



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Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:08 pm
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
That's very interesting. I didn't think of it nor would I have thought of that. What an idea.



Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:10 pm
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
I think the man is equally as insane in the beginning of the story as he is in the end. He doesn't seem to perceive reality as it is from the very beginning.

Like how he mentions how he has heard conversations that dogs have had and how he believes that dogs are more intelligent than people.

Although, this may be true in some cases I have found :laugh:


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Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:11 pm
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
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One thing I found especially intriguing about this short story was the idea that things are what they appear to be. We see this in the beginning of the story, when the madman says "Our director must be a very intelligent man. His whole study is lined with books" (p. 4). The madman clearly takes everything at face value, and does not attempt to delve any further into the director's character. He does the same thing with women, which is interesting in and of itself. Perhaps Gogol's point is that basing things on appearances helps to keep the aristocracy running while simultaneously running the lower class citizens into madness.


Cool comment. I keep wondering throughout this story if everything that is happening is all in the character's mind. The story was hilarious at the beginning but the end was sad. :( I love the letters written by the dog. So funny. But in both cases the letters and the inquisition, I am thinking that it is possibly all part of the character's illness.



Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:37 pm
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
Have to say for diary entries they have to be some of the funniest I have ever read. Its taken me a while to get into the book, mostly due to my crazy schedule but so far I am loving it.

I loved the part about the dogs writing letters to one another. I read that part late at night one evening I had this dream about my dogs (I have two) somehow writing letters to one another and dogs we have met at the dog park. I'm not sure which one was more comical, my dream or the book.



Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:28 pm
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
I think that the character goes insane due to some kind of social frustration. He cannot reach the director's daughter because of his low position and lack of money (he is even ashamed to speak to her because his coat is out of fashion), he is nagged at work by the Divisional Chief, and at the same time he is proud of being a noble man and theater-goer. Then he learns about a possible wedding of the lady he likes and he is in despair: "High officials, senior officers, they get all the best things in this world. You discover a crumb of happiness, you reach out for it and then along comes a high official or an officer and snatches it away. Goddammit! I would like so much to become a high official myself and not just to obtain her hand in marriage cither. No, I'd like to be a high official just so that I could watch them jump around for my benefit..." (sorry for the long quote) No wonder that in the society where his social position is the clue for everything, he imagines himself to be the King of Spain.

For those who have wondered, in Russian "lead someone by his nose" (literally) means to make a fool of someone, and "leave someone with his nose" (again, literally) means to leave someone without something he had hoped for.



Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:38 pm
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Post Re: The Diary of a Madman
Aida wrote:
I think that the character goes insane due to some kind of social frustration. He cannot reach the director's daughter because of his low position and lack of money (he is even ashamed to speak to her because his coat is out of fashion), he is nagged at work by the Divisional Chief, and at the same time he is proud of being a noble man and theater-goer.


An interesting thought, Aida, I had been convinced that he was always mad but I can see where Gogol would be right in character to be telling us that frustration with the bureaucracy can drive someone mad.

Aida wrote:
For those who have wondered, in Russian "lead someone by his nose" (literally) means to make a fool of someone, and "leave someone with his nose" (again, literally) means to leave someone without something he had hoped for.


Thanks for the information. That explains a lot about this story and about "The Nose."


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Sat Mar 27, 2010 3:14 pm
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