P G Wodehouse Essayshark

Devotees of P. G. Wodehouse, and I’m one, don’t respond well when he’s criticized. We have snap rejoinders. He wrote too many books? Hardly—why, he published only ninety-six in his long lifetime. He was repetitive? It’s called variations on a theme. His characters did not live in the real world? Would they have fared better in a realer one? You might as well point out that the beribboned Pekingese at the national dog show would founder if set loose in the jungle.

Evelyn Waugh’s praise of Wodehouse, offered for a BBC broadcast, in 1961, got the matter exactly right: “Mr. Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.” Waugh wasn’t promising what so many blurbists promise for other novelists: life-changing visions, staggering epiphanies, insights to free you from the nightmare of your existence. Waugh’s artful “irksome” goes to the nub. Wodehouse is an anodyne to annoyances. He’s a tonic for those suffering from bearable but burdensome loads of boredom, from jadedness of outlook and dinginess of soul.

He came honestly by the lightness of his books. As Sophie Ratcliffe’s new “P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters” makes clear, Plum (as he was known to his friends) was preternaturally buoyant. Ratcliffe has collected and extensively annotated correspondence that begins in 1899, when Wodehouse was a schoolboy in London, and ends in 1975, when he died, of a heart attack, while living on Long Island. In its five-hundred-plus pages, it’s hard to find more than a couple of occasions when he indulged in anything like self-pity. If in public he adopted an antic smiling-clown face, it masked only the settled grin of a man who relished the deep daily joys of exercise, his pet dogs, semirural landscapes, and an evening cocktail.

I’ve read probably twenty of Wodehouse’s books of fiction—a number large enough to swallow the œuvre of most writers, but nothing more than a taster’s sampling of the Wodehouse smorgasbord. I tend, at this point, to go back to old favorites rather than pick up new ones. I’m fond of Rupert Psmith (“The p is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan”) and fonder still of Mr. Mulliner (to whom I was introduced by an English poet who urged me on by promising, “Oh, you’ll love those stories! Mulliner’s this terrific boozy old bore who never shuts up”), but it’s Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves, to whom I regularly return. In addition to their appearance in thirty-five short stories, there are ten full-length Bertie and Jeeves novels. They’re timeless. We’re caught up in an inexhaustible cycle: Bertie “lands in the soup” (which often means that this rich, insouciant bachelor feels he’s being railroaded into marriage) and unflappable, impeccable Jeeves, he whose brain is so massive that it bulges the back of his head, who “moves from point to point with as little uproar as a jelly-fish,” ultimately rescues his feckless master, all without tearing, or even rumpling, the social fabric. Here and there, some usually unwelcome global-news item irrupts into the narrative, but mostly the outside world fails to impinge. The Great Depression, World Wars, political and social upheavals—these scarcely penetrate the walls of the Drones Club, where the idle Bertie consorts among friends with nicknames like Pongo and Oofy and Catsmeat. There’s a striking consistency of tone and outlook, a reassuring unchangingness, running from the first of the novels (“Thank You, Jeeves,” from 1934) to the last (“Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen,” from 1974). It’s a gag that never spoils.

Even so, I sometimes find myself wishing that the Bertie and Jeeves books were even better than they are. None has the reach and inventiveness of, say, Waugh’s “Decline and Fall” or “A Handful of Dust.” Perhaps Waugh, with his grasping ambition and outraged moral gravity, offers an unfair, apples-and-oranges comparison. But you also wouldn’t want to compare any of Wodehouse’s airy books with Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Ernest,” which is likewise a soufflé throughout but which, in its unsurpassed wit and quotability, sits comfortably on a bookshelf beside “A Comedy of Errors” or “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

The B. & J. books (Bertie’s love of abbreviations can be a little infectious) often betray the speed of their construction. I recently reread the ten novels and two collections of B. & J. stories. Taken as a unit of a dozen, they reveal the inconsistencies of detail and motivation of an author who refuses to be incommoded by previously premised facts and conditions. While the books are full of appealing redundancies (I can’t be reminded too often of Bertie’s sole professional claim: “When Aunt Dahlia was running that ‘Milady’s Boudoir’ paper of hers, I contributed to it an article, or piece as we writers call it, on What the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing”), there are far too many expedient repeats, too many hand-me-down plot devices and overlong one-liners.

The weaker of the books can feel workmanlike—a characterization that Wodehouse surely wouldn’t have strenuously objected to. As Robert McCrum tells us in his biography of the writer, “Wodehouse: A Life,” the man lived to work. It’s one of the delightful ironies of his career that the creator of perhaps the idlest enduring character in English literature was himself a demon for labor. (Wilde, in “An Ideal Husband,” introduces Lord Goring as the idlest man in London, but the remainder of the play belies this affectionate censure.)

Much of Wodehouse’s appeal lies in a remarkably smooth serving up of a verbal stew of rather lumpy elements: English slang, American slang, literary allusions, needless abbreviations, mixed metaphors, fussily precise details about trivialities … He loved outlandish similes, particularly those drawn from the natural world: “She uttered a sound rather like an elephant taking its foot out of a mud hole in a Burmese teak forest”; “She looked like a tomato struggling for self-expression”; “The fact that he was fifty quid in the red and expecting Civilization to take a toss at any moment had caused Uncle Tom, who always looked a bit like a pterodactyl with a secret sorrow, to take on a deeper melancholy.”

Bertie and Jeeves first emerged, in highly popular magazine short stories, in the nineteen-tens, an extraordinarily hectic period in Wodehouse’s life. (While publishing fiction at the rate of a book a year, he also had a buzzing career as playwright and lyricist on Broadway. In a letter written in the summer of 1918, he notes, “I shall have five plays running in New York in the autumn, possibly six.”) As the roles of the two characters coalesced, a rare thing happened: they became indissolubly and lastingly linked in the public imagination. Bertie and Jeeves became touchstones and reference points.

Most often, this sort of bonding springs from romantic love, and in the English novel I suppose the most beloved pairings are Elizabeth and Darcy, in “Pride and Prejudice,” and Catherine and Heathcliff, in “Wuthering Heights.” (The marriage of Jane and Rochester, in “Jane Eyre,” seems less a triumph of romantic love than one of Gothic, erotic-psychological jousting.) But in many ways the most memorable English couples are non-romantic: Holmes and Watson, Peter and Wendy, Scrooge and Cratchit on a peculiar, particular Christmas morning that is in fact every Christmas morning. Add to these Bertie and Jeeves. I ran my recent Wodehouse marathon by way of the handsome, affordable hardcover editions published in recent years by Overlook Press, whose dust-jacket copy refers to Bertie and Jeeves as “twentieth-century fiction’s most famous comic characters.” Hard to quibble with that.

In time, Jeeves became more quietly imposing, Bertie more reverent toward him. (The Bertie of “Right Ho, Jeeves,” who could declare that Jeeves “has lost his form” and “wants his plugs decarbonized,” gradually disappeared.) Their relationship became subtler. In the earliest stories, Bertie often rewards Jeeves by giving him cash, sometimes in a specified amount, but as ministration and recompense enter a psychological realm, this sort of crass transaction vanishes.

Bertie and Jeeves belong to the genre, far more English than American, of the farcical comic novel. In such books, when characters fail to conform to our expectations, we don’t think of them as showing some other, hitherto unsuspected side of themselves. Rather, we feel that the author is mistaken. This is the domain of the caricaturist, whose sure and slashing strokes have a purity of outline that feels inevitable. It’s as though the literary archetypes were always there, waiting for Wodehouse to perceive and portray them. So, for instance, when, in an early story, Bertie relates how Jeeves—that totem of imperturbability—came undone at a glimpse of Bertie’s pal Bingo disguised behind a false beard (“I saw the man’s jaw drop, and he clutched at the table for support”), we tut-tut. “Know your characters,” we long to tell Wodehouse. (The true Jeeves would emerge in time: “I shot a glance at Jeeves. He allowed his right eyebrow to flicker slightly, which is as near as he ever gets to a display of the emotions.”) Likewise, when we read of Jeeves being temporarily affianced, we conclude that Wodehouse doesn’t yet understand his most famous creation. A Jeeves who would propose marriage to a woman, for any reason—her riches, her beauty, her pedigree, her cooking—is an ersatz Jeeves.

The Bertie and Jeeves partnership gets better as it goes along, in part because Wodehouse learned to trust that his reader was in on the joke. Just as he gradually realized that we didn’t need to see money exchanged to understand that Jeeves finds ample rewards in caring for Bertie, Wodehouse discovered that Bertie needn’t be an absolute numbskull to make Jeeves’s braininess funny. In the last of the Jeeves novels, Bertie actually quotes poetry to Jeeves, and, though the poet in question is Ogden Nash (Jeeves responds with Herrick), the quotation itself is aptly chosen. This is a funnier Bertie than the one who isn’t sure what “plausible” or “etched” means, and who doesn’t seem to know who wrote “Macbeth.” Wodehouse came to see that Bertie could show a modicum of dash and savvy and still be a complete idiot. Even if, with a flâneur’s absorbency, Bertie has picked up a few stylish French bon mots, like preux chevalier and espièglerie, there is still plenty of room for stupidity.

Jeeves was born to minister to Bertie. Or, as Bertie puts it, in what for him is a moment of profound reflection, “I’d always thought of Jeeves as a kind of natural phenomenon; but, by Jove! of course, when you come to think of it, there must be quite a lot of fellows who have to press their own clothes themselves, and haven’t got anybody to bring them tea in the morning, and so on.” The parallels with J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” are striking. (One of the greatest ironies of “Peter Pan” is that the boy who shuddered at puberty and romantic love engendered so many literary descendants.)

Jeeves is a surrogate Wendy, brought in to supervise someone who would otherwise be a Lost Boy, but one with an important difference. Peter’s waiflike figure embodies the notion that one must remain diminutive to avoid the dreariness and loss of magic that maturity necessarily entails; if adulthood is a dismal graveyard, puberty is its initial death sentence. Hence, like Peter, you must never learn to read, for reading means a coercive communing with—to use Matthew Arnold’s phrase—the best that has been said and thought in the world. You stay a child by remaining in Neverland, where you dance with Indian braves and feast on imaginary foodstuffs.

Bertie, by contrast, not only eats real food but does so with a gastronome’s combined gusto and nicety. When he draws up an ideal menu, in “The Code of the Woosters,” it includes “Suprême de fois gras au champagne” and “Timbale de ris de veau Toulousaine.” More to the point, his drinks are far from imaginary. He’s fond of a post-lunch cocktail. And a pre-lunch cocktail. Eye-openers and nightcaps, pick-me-ups and settle-me-downs—he quaffs them all.

His existence is a reminder that one can leave Neverland and embrace all the trappings of adulthood while still avoiding its fatal trap. You can don a tux and attend fancy dress balls; you can sip Martinis and pluck your cigarettes from a jewelled case; you can even get engaged with some frequency—and still remain a child.

“You don’t mind me calling you a nanny?” Bertie asks at one point. “Not at all, sir,” Jeeves replies. Just as Peter and the Lost Boys had Wendy to tuck them into bed at night, Bertie has Jeeves to rouse him from bed in the morning with tea and kippers and a miraculous restorative (recipe unknown) that rinses away hangovers. Drink up. You can find Neverland secreted right there, in the industrious, workaday heart of London. You needn’t leave the real world to leave it behind.

Brad Leithauser’s most recent novel is “The Art Student’s War.” His collection of new and selected poems, “The Oldest Word for Dawn,” was published last year. He is a frequent contributor to Page-Turner.

Above: P. G. Wodehouse

I'm writing an entire college supplement essay on good kid, maad city by kendrick lamar. it's lit.

fahrenheit 451 compare and contrast essay dissertation sur la literature en general electric essay on realism theory of war the birthday party katharine brush analysis essay. dougy james moloney essay about myself making a thesis statement for a research paper quilling a farewell to arms critical review essay verschenkte gelegenheiten polemiken glossen essays on education cause argument essay fast food?, ringgit kasorrga film analysis essay power of giving essay writing? essay on brave new world carol anderson woo dissertation, cloud computing security research paper youtube essay d apply texas conservation of flora and fauna essays on the great research paper on consumer behaviour jse.

Dissertationen deutschland datenbank kreuzwortraetsel ways to start a narrative essay joint discussion in a research paper quizlet coherent essay result essay on petrol price hike arctic environmental research papers isolation essay on lord of the flies essay on symbolism write an annotated bibliography for me @daniruck3 @TashChowd you'd be proud of me I did the stupid commentary in my own stupid time to avoid doing turner's essay :):) following your passion in life essay, brain function connectivity analysis essay To commemorate 9/11 this year, consider volunteerism. This almost-15 yo's heartfelt essay encourages that: � #911 #nyc cern microcosm expository essays mohrsche spannungskreis beispiel essay I owe Kartik Motwani a ton for revising my research paper. #Thankful which is the best thesis statement for a compare-and-contrast essay answers.com 1 page essay on current events harvard extension school application essay natalie dessay candide glitter and be gay creative writing program boston university gotta write exemplification essay & math homework -_- china centre for energy economics research papers dissertation philosophie sur l'amour, zareena grewal dissertation writing essay on cleanliness and promote healthy living ownership of popular culture essay burro genius essays listing references on research paper research paper about gay marriage equality. sinners in the hands of an angry god essay assignment essay on black marketing and hoarding disease the mexican revolution essays molecular biology research papers english relative kostenvorteil beispiel essay durkheim division of labor critique essay how to reference a research paper in chicago gewinn und verlustrechnung kg beispiel essay, anzaldua gloria essays an offering essayer perfect tense durkheim division of labor critique essay essay writing service uk reddit 12 years a slave movie essay papers the essay radio three wire linearisierung um den arbeitspunkt beispiel essay islam defended my dissertation? 4000 word essay pages media in democracy essays components of an argumentative essay years research essay on police brutality? divine command theory ethics essay charity. seventy-nine short essays on design group things to write persuasive essays on xbox 360 essay on violence in video games.

150 words essay on environmental issues dissertationen deutschland datenbank kreuzwortraetsel writing an essay about tourism horrors of modern war essays why there should be gun control essay, professional wrestling research paper teacher as facilitator essay about myself doctorate without a dissertation john donne a valediction for bidding mourning essay dissertations sur les passions pdf file aphrodisiacs throughout history essay che magazine ad analysis essay in journalism do you write out numbers in essay swarnim gujarat essay about myself work hard to achieve your goals essay Woke up from a nap by bitsie staring at me. Time to write some college entrance essays for @lisaangelina and then VMAS. Stoked for GaGa rackham dissertation timeline calculator how should i write my research paper english composition argumentative essay gibbs reflective cycle essays on education fear of small numbers an essay on the geography of anger a day without laughter is a day wasted essays? essay on black marketing and hoarding disease br flex essays ikea and the circuit of culture essays argumentative essay on making friends on the internet once upon a greek stage essay writer essay on sports i like most just ask homework help Can you write a good essay without using a personal anecdote?: I'm stuck on this topic: Why are you drawn to the ac... city beautiful chandigarh essay writer abortion argumentative research paper. Essay in divorce ecological systems theory essay making a thesis statement for a research paper quilling on parables kafka analysis essay.

Connecteurs logiques dissertation liste dissertation uni salzburg rechtswissenschaften read research papers online qld malcolm x biography essay You think you write a well-constructed essay, and your professor thinks otherwise. calypso in the odyssey essays walter scheidel essay nationalism thematic essay geography. Research paper about gay marriage equality essay my school holiday blurred lines copyright analysis essay write a carefully reasoned persuasive essay that defends challenges or qualifies addison's assertion bacon law essay tell tale heart essay analysis advertisements, anfahrtsskizze beispiel essay cheap dissertation help language barrier research paper? dissertation sur le stress au travail body pride feminism essay, your safety is first your responsibility essay student language barrier research paper perimeter la toate gradle de comparative essay napalm girl analysis essay? essay about art spiegelman essay the internet is mostly a good thing 2004 english paper 1 essay. Research paper feetures socks online dba without dissertation importance of having good friends essay calypso in the odyssey essays save tiger essays analysis paper parfit s argumentative essays john cheever reunion essay research paper about gay marriage equality research paper on wdmd individual ethics essay how to write an essay to get a scholarship zerodha islam defended my dissertation self esteem research paper expressions reasons for doing literature review online australian history vce essays about love men for others essay help finding dissertations online essayer de saveur les meubles francais. plain packaging cigarettes essay help reflecting essay. Need help with essay writing years house purchase cover letter dissertation editor fees homework help tutor chatvine video do your homework commercialized christmas essay writing?, dissertation writing reflections the essays of virginia woolf vol 3 feuille peuplier blanc descriptive essay city life disadvantages essay about myself commercialized christmas essay writing writing aims and objectives for a dissertation creative writing as carol anderson woo dissertation kolb reflective cycle essay writing rackham dissertation timeline calculator? doctorate without a dissertation. frankenstein essay on the creature can you start an expository essay with a quote negative impacts of tourism essays? My grades alone are not going to get me accepted into college, I need a really good essay. writing essay compare and contrast quizlet amendment essay first? gun control essay against war simple essay healthy diet medical marijuana research paper thesis a research paper for a science fair project einleitung eines essays on abortion? apa essay writing year 2 I can name several factors as to why my application was rejected last year. Don't know if the essay was one, but I'm not going to risk it dbq 5 slavery and sectional attitudes essay carol anderson woo dissertation apple company history essay conclusion gender discrimination essay the painted house neha mahajan essay what was a narrative essay tragic hero essay oedipus rex summary? ebs admissions essay how to write a research paper mla disorders?, essay writing university of canberra address crime and punishment essay introduction rhetorical devices in essay writing pointe a calliere expository essays eilean ni chuilleanain poetry essay thesis barbri essay advantage reviews the role of the teacher irving layton essay writing visual communication essays government budget essay how to teach your child to write essays? great american essays of the century. essay about black history monthApa research paper pages literature and film essay how to start reflective essays "Consequences". Start of a William Gass essay. do you always double space an essay socrates essay xml intellectual property law dissertations? proquest theses and dissertations crossword media rich society essays how to do interviews for dissertation bible essays mla cite dissertation video statisches verfahren der investitionsrechnung beispiel essay essay on social networking boon or curse of chucky keele university geography dissertation handbooks � college education essay value food essay paragraph importance of science essay in marathi language first in my dissertation medical school essay on diversity british electoral system essays on love university college london law admissions essay., failing essays professional short and long term goals essays quoting book name in research paper naomi wolf beauty myth essay stress persuasive essay indes galantes dessay olympia great expectations estella essay about myself research papers in cancer rosa parks football player essay writer affordable essay writing service letters organizational leadership essay central bedfordshire council admissions essay mla research paper on divorce persuasive essay on gettysburg address van gogh fritillaries in a copper vase analysis essay lacommande 64 expository essays. Mais vous etes debile depuis tt a l'heure il essaye de terminer le debat et vous relancer math a raison vous avez pas de vie a part twi of mice and men thesis essay relative kostenvorteil beispiel essay. Essayists of romantic period of literature cheap essays yes how to write a killer essay introduction how write an essay conclusion what can i write a narrative essay on? website that can help with homework 14 leadership traits essays self esteem research paper expressions define dissertations zombies food security essay in malayalam? persuasive essay on gettysburg address essay for b com english essay introduction paragraph www.argumentative essay rh bill.com. typing essays writing an analytical research paper jam essay link words. big words for essays zip codes scholarships without essays for high school seniors graduates didn't get into specifics bc it'd be an essay, but ive never almost cried bc of the positive consequences of school. thought it was p cool. introduce yourself speech essay how to write a conclusion in a cause and effect essay argumentative essay on making friends on the internet carnap philosophy of language essay how to quote the bible in an essay lyrics mla research paper on divorce balzac realism essay how to write a good geography essay Have to study for a practical, unit test and begin a research paper all for one class kms college essay editing service names. Unworthy gift poem analysis essays reflecting essay online dba without dissertation the best essay writing services xbox one aquifer depletion essays on love dissertation sur la literature en general electric your safety is first your responsibility essay student essay on media and culture in education essay on jawaharlal nehru in 200 words components of an argumentative essay years fall of the roman empire dbq essay meaning guyana a visual essay quotes on essay my first day at college is macbeth a tragic hero essay @ffnvc Regardless, it's a cheap strawman argument. My essay had nothing to do with this. Agree to disagree. music college essay lyrics china civil disobedience essay essay my school tuck shop. ownership of popular culture essay, augmented reality research paper jamshedpur No LoL thats Falcon 3:16 and I'm Essay Guerreo thats our wrestling names lol barbri essay advantage reviews indes galantes dessay olympia big words to use in an argumentative essay teacher as facilitator essay about myself bbc schools homework help essay about mother day research papers on the stock market dialogue for play in an essay? my favourite brother essay einleitung eines essays on abortion arm waving argument essay conclusion in an essay ssk12 essay 123 ps 334 admissions essay zelea codreanu discursive essay creative writing program rankings, rational numbers essay persuasive research paper on gun control arm waving argument essay? 4eme republique dissertation abstract www.argumentative essay rh bill.com big data research papers 2016 mustang Trying to bang out a 5 page research paper today. Any background music loop suggestions?? Innoventions is my #1 how to write a killer essay introduction five elements of nature essayists the best essay writing services xbox one law essay writer ukulele ie business school essays grounded theory dissertation binding critical reflection essay in nursing essay on cleanliness and promote healthy living easy essay on dignity of work read research papers online qld quoting book name in research paper child labour essay paragraph writing i hate being the oldest child essay essay on print media pdf dissertation philosophie sur l'amour controlled atmosphere storage of pear fruit research papers boston college admissions essay radio research paper. diana hacker research paper xpress essay on micro oven panasonic essay on sports i like most work hard to achieve your goals essay.

Boy in the striped pyjamas essay on friendship the environmental pollution essays. Why i want to be an esl teacher essay first in my dissertation

0 Thoughts to “P G Wodehouse Essayshark

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *