Study Guide

The Diary of a Madman Tough-o-Meter

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(3) Base Camp

While Gogol deliberately writes in very simple language that translates clearly into English, life in 19th-century Russia can still seem alien to us. But rest assured, we explain a lot of the alien stuff here. (For example, what is it with Poprishchin's obsession with sharpening his boss's pens?) And hopefully, none of it will seem stranger to you than it seems to our poor hero when he starts to lose his mind and imagines he is the king of Spain.

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