Study Guide

The Diary of a Madman Writing Style

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Writing Style

Doggy (By Which We Actually Mean Uneven)

Let's take our cue from our friend Poprishchin on this one. When he's reading Medji's first letter, he says its style is "doggy" (8.1). He later explains this means "extremely uneven," as it "begins properly, but ends with some dogginess" (8.17). And then he says this "shows at once that it wasn't written by a man" (8.17). Whatever, it's not like these pooches would prefer to be human, anyway.

But we want to say "Well, P, look at your own style!" Sometimes his style is very simple and clear. In his more lucid moments, Poprishchin describes things as they are, gives us enough background information to put things together, and doesn't jump around.

Once his mind starts to fall apart, though, so does his writing.

And sometimes he can get wordy and over-the-top sentimental: "…there, I think, there are wonders; there, I think, there is paradise, such as is not even to be found in heaven" (6.1), anyone? Or how about that ending: "Here is the sky billowing before me; a little star shines in the distance; a forest races by with dark trees and a crescent moon; blue mist spreads under my feet; a string twangs in the mist" (20.1) and so on… If you can believe it, these parts sound even more ridiculous in the original Russian.

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