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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago

You can usually tell who is a decent cove by whether they enjoy P G Wodehouse or not.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

“You don’t think Wodehouse is funny? Then I consider you a tiresome prig and I don’t care to know you.”
A philosophy that will make you miss a very few people worth knowing, and a great many people not worth knowing.

J Bryant
J Bryant
4 months ago

A very enjoyable essay. Thank you.

Saigon Sally
Saigon Sally
4 months ago

A lot more links Wodehouse with Gilbert & Sullivan in their joint gentle amusing and playful irreverant portrayal of the upper classes than the author had time to say.
Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes!
Bow, bow, ye tradesmen! Bow, ye masses!
Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses!
We are peers of highest station
Paragons of legislation
Pillars of the British nation etc etc…
And the very fact that they could mock and joke at the establishment’s expense has tended to set us apart from some other nations that take themselves more seriously.

Last edited 4 months ago by Saigon Sally
Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
4 months ago
Reply to  Saigon Sally

Totalitarianism cannot tolerate being laughed at.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
4 months ago

Whenever I see a sartorial oddity I think of Jeeves seeing a pair of Bertie’s brightly coloured socks, whereupon “he bridled like a startled mustang.”

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
4 months ago

This is a very sound reading of Wodehouse. I have always seen some of his writing as a Christian allegory. Somebody once argued that Bertie Wooster’s role is that of Jesus, redeeming his friends at his own expense, as arranged by the all-knowing Jeeves, who stands in place of God the Father.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
4 months ago

That’s a bit fancival but Bertie certainly knows his Scripture.

peter lucey
peter lucey
4 months ago

PGW always said he loved his schooldays, and followed Dulwich College all his life – especially their cricket team.

He was an apolitical writer. Auberon Waugh wrote: “Politicians may be prepared to countenance subversive political jokes, but the deeper subversion of totally non-political jokes is something they can neither comprehend or forgive.”

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
4 months ago

Thank you for a most delightful essay.
I have never given such deep thought to analysing the works mentioned, though not a week passes without reading at least one chapter of his books.

Plum’s winning trademark may well be his ironic irreverence couching ever present realities.

” Unseen in the background Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing glove” and describing the inmates of the HOC as a ” weird gaggle of freaks and sub- humans as could be collected in one spot” could well describe the contemporary events of today.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago

His protagonist, Mike, is a representative of that untraumatised majority. 
Well, small wonder the average leftist of today would freak out over this book. The idea of anyone being untraumatized is anathema to the SJWs of the day. One can’t simply be; one must be a victim or aggressor, oppressor or oppressed. No wonder young people today are fraught with mental issues. So few of them had the luxury of experiencing childhood.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Or the luxury of experiencing laughter. A wonderful old priest I once knew told me that when he was 15 or so, ‘I got very depressed. My father gave me PG Wodehouse to read and I have never looked back.’ He loved Wodehouse so much that he gave up reading him every Lent as a penance. And he was a little bit like a character out of Wodehouse himself.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
4 months ago

That was fun! Jeeves and Wooster never fail to delight, but it is the Blandings crowd that I adore. The books inspired the absolutely brilliant (and too short) BBC series. Tim Spall and Jack Farthing are perfect as Clarence, 9th Earl of Emsworth and his silly son Freddie, but it is Jennifer Saunders as Constance, the Earl’s formidable sister, who steals the show every time.
She delivers this dripping line to over-sexed, dim and drunken Freddie: “If your brain were dynamite it couldn’t blow fuzz off a peach.”
That said, I’m going. To my room.

mike otter
mike otter
4 months ago

I expect if Roderick Spode had been real he too would have railed against Wodehouse. That tells you all you need to now about PGW’s detractors. PGW was a fool to try and get peace with Germany and that is a very typical Brit middle class failing. He thought you can negotiate with socialists like the NSDAP. Well you can’t, same as you can’t negotiate with pigeons or rats.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
3 months ago
Reply to  mike otter

But British Bicycles, well, they’re all right.

Geoff Mould
Geoff Mould
4 months ago

Wodehouse’s humour is timeless. Always worthy going back to.

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
4 months ago

ITV;s 1990’s? series Jeeves & Wooster was superb.Wonder what Jeeves would think of the way Stephen Fry who played him has turned out politically?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
4 months ago
Reply to  SIMON WOLF

” Decidedly odd”?!

Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
4 months ago

Lovely article. The quote from a later book that “the P is silent” never ceases to crack me up and I have tried to use that line in real life whenever possible. Not often, but there have been times. I would also like to add the golf stories to the endless list of unmissable books written by the master. I was never a fan of Jeeves and Wooster though, don’t really know why. Thanks for making my day.

Chipoko
Chipoko
3 months ago

Excellent essay!

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
3 months ago

Of course, the monocled dandy, who encourages the school jock to ignore Sedleigh cricket, turns out to be an excellent slow left-arm bowler. Wodehouse’s characters may apparently be stereotypes, but they almost always break the mould.

jane baker
jane baker
3 months ago

Laughing Gas is laugh out loud and roll on the floor funny.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

Wodehouse was very fortunate not to be hanged in 1946, unlike for example William Joyce* and John Amery.

He also managed to ‘miss’ the Great War, 1914-1918, apparently because of poor eyesight, unlike for example John Kipling** who was similarly afflicted.

(*Despite not being a British citizen.)
(** ‘My boy Jack’.)

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
4 months ago

Fortunately his conduct passed a close examination by a young Malcolm Muggeridge – which of us would have survived that?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
4 months ago

How can you compare the founder of the British Free Corps and an active member of the N Party to someone who probably acted like his own creation( Bertram W)?
He did pay a steep price for those broadcasts with his exile.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

He was sixty years and knew what he was doing, and unlike Joyce was actually BRITISH!

In the old days as you will recall, we used to say “play the white man” and Wodehouse lamentably didn’t, to his eternal shame and that of Dulwich College.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
4 months ago

Merely tried to ” spread sweetness and light” and rather erroneously so, just as BW goofed on everything from cow- creamers to plotting how to get out of the clutches of Ms Basset.
If only Jeeves was there to save his silly master.
Hasn’t DC also produced Mr Farage?

Last edited 4 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

Indeed it has, and also Ernest Shackleton.
The Prep School dining room used to be graced with the two metre high portraits/photos of the schools six VCs.
Perhaps it still is.Jeeves would be proud!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
4 months ago

DC has produced many, not least Chandler, a much better writer.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
4 months ago

As a former active member of the Plum Society Calcutta chapter don’t agree he wasn’t a good writer.
Though I daresay he would agree with you” I sit at my typewriter and curse a bit”!

Last edited 4 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
4 months ago

Chandler is not a better writer; he is a different writer. You can’t compare them. Both superb stylists.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
4 months ago

Ooh. Not sure. Chandler and Wodehouse both have places among the most brilliant writers ever in English and the world would be a better place if more people read them. How about that?

Last edited 4 months ago by Helen Nevitt
Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
4 months ago

John Kipling would have failed the eyesight test too; he was very short-sighted. But Kipling pulled strings for him among the top brass, so off he went. I think Kipling never forgave himself.

mike otter
mike otter
4 months ago

Interesting article though we could do w/o revisiting Orwell/Eric Blair. IMO he was a rat and its a good thing he fought against the Spanish people not on our side. In addition to his Jonah status he was by all accounts a liability to his own side. As were the other authors, poets, drinkers and wasters that fought alongside him and his russian pals.

Geoff W
Geoff W
4 months ago
Reply to  mike otter

If you think Orwell was pals with the Russians in Spain, I suggest you read “Homage to Catalonia.” Or anything else he wrote about the Spanish Civil War. Or “Animal Farm.”

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
4 months ago

Amis (K) or Wodehouse, I don’t read these books as they speak only of the chummy established English classes usually in the south of the country. A better prism on the early half of the century is provided by the Edwardian noir of Patrick Hamilton, or even Jean Rhys although Paris was really her city.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
4 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Keep trying PGW, one day you may learn a sense of humour

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
4 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I think you are born with a sense of humour or you aren’t. A sense of humour doesn’t ‘develop’, in my experience.