Read “Diary of a Madman” by Gogol

So finally got to the story I had bought the Gogol book for and it didn’t disappoint, what a great writer. The piece is humourous and displays a path to madness through showing the characters private thoughts. Some of the descriptions were so precise, the description of the burning feeling in his mind which is the wildfire of the illness as it decimates brain cells and closes the victim off from the world around them. The attitude the character has is spot on, the lack of empathy for others and at once the self doubt leading to that moment of clarity. The clarity is the scary bit because that is the point of disconection where the main character succumbs to delusions. I like the character as he has a rebellious nature, it reminds me of Baal in Bertolt Brecht’s play. They bite the hand that feeds them only because they have become so disconnected and they have no fear but their own impending paranoia. Whereas a person in their position would normally be more interested in hedging their own position to gain leverage. The sufferers mind simply pulls the plug and they become the king of Spain as in the book with some odd logic and a talking dog. The dogs letters were funny and Gogol really made the character humorous though I don’t think this was simply derisive but really made the reader wonder what was next.

I also enjoyed “the overcoat” but I had a sense that I had read it before it was dark like Kafka and it was only saved when the ghost started exacting revenge that a softer side of the story appeared. Maybe it just made me feel more comfortable because I felt for the main character who was a bit mad himself though he was described as a good copier. He was expertly boring and quite poor and when he finally got enough money to get his overcoat it was stolen, what a sad story. When the ghost went on the rampage I realised I hadn’t read it before because I would have happily left it at the most miserable bit and strangely have been ok with that. Well the story has really stuck in my mind now regardless, still have a few stories to go yet before I am finished.

One last observation, the richness of the mad mans internal life though somewhat odd is a nice touch and the fact the victim is always lost for words, I am pretty much the same with speech it all gets lost thankfully I can write and so could the madman until he went too far. I thought that helped you connect with the character.

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