Diary of a Madman

An adaptation of Nicolai Gogol's short story, "Diary of a Madman", about a clerk's disintegration into madness. Written in 1834, the story contains one of the earliest descriptions of schizophrenia, by turns bizarre, funny and sad. It is a first-person narrative presented in the form of a diary. At the outset, the narrator records his frustrations and humiliations straightforwardly, rationalizing various affronts to his dignity. Over time, however, reason gives way to delusion. His intermittent encounters with Sophie, the radiant daughter of his official superior, provoke an obsession that leads to his "overhearing" two dogs discussing his hopelessness. As such hallucinations become more frequent, he finds solace--and his ultimate rationale--in a new identity as the rightful king of Spain, whose enemies have engineered his exile. Throughout the story, interludes of sanity provide striking counterpoint to the deepening psychosis. It represents the kind of cutting edge writing that placed Gogol in the forefront of Russian writers, with great influence on the generation that came after him. It seems that both the citizen in democratic republics, as well as bureaucrats anywhere are the primary targets of this short story.