Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bertie and Jeeves

So I finished reading Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, the fake Wodehouse novel.  And it was great.  Vastly exceeded my expectations.

Turning the book over, one sees that the back-cover blurbs are about Wodehouse himself, not this particular book.  Which makes plenty of strategic sense, given the givens.  A sampling goes like this:  "A brilliantly funny writer -- perhaps the most consistently funny the English language has yet produced." --The Times; "The funniest writer ever to put words on paper." --Hugh Laurie; and "You don't analyze such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendor." --Steven Fry.

It should be noted that Laurie and Fry played Bertie and Jeeves on British television, so maybe they're biased.  But when The Mothership speaks, one listens.  It's like when they ring those gongs at Lucas Oil Stadium when the Colts have done, or are about to do, something extraordinary.

Me?  I would have to say that P.G.Wodehouse has had more influence on my writing style than anybody else.  One needn't look too much farther than the interplay between me and the Greek Chorus to see this.

If you think I'm Bertie you've got another thing coming.
I understand that you're new around here, so calm down.  Typically you play the role of Jeeves; I play Bertie.
Very good.

Which, for the record, wasn't supposed to be an example of what I just said.

The other fun thing to think about, as you slowly leaf through your library with an eye towards re-reading Carry On, Jeeves, is that the setting in which the Jeeves stories happen is roughly contemporary with the time period in which Downton Abbey happens.  Likewise similar is the collaborative tension between the aristocracy and the serving class that drives the narratives.  The difference would be that Bertie was a Londoner who went to houses like Downton Abby for the weekend, whereas Lord Grantham, shall we say, was a leading citizen of Yorkshire who went to London for the occasional whatever.

And of course that Downton Abbey is a drama, of a sort, and the Wodehouse books are the funniest things ever written.
Nicely said.  I didn't know you'd read them.
Hasn't everybody?
Carry on, Persephone.

A closing blurb to wrap the whole thing together from Julian Fellowes, the guiding force behind Downton Abbey (and screenwriter of Altman's Gosford Park -- a smasher of a movie):

"The greatest chronicler of a certain kind of Englishness."

Which is high praise from the guy who the unwashed and uninformed think is the greatest chronicler of a certain kind of Englishness.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read Birdsong....Sebastian Faulks...whew. And how many readers do you think you lost while you were in your prolonged brain cramp.... Fortunately I'm back but only by accident.

5:43 AM  

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