Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Right Ho, Jeeves

I’m not sure why I’ve never read a P.G. Wodehouse novel before.

I’ll vouchsafe the tales of the foppish Bertie Wooster and his ever-resourceful gentleman’s personal gentleman, Jeeves, were a favorite around my house, especially with my mom (maybe that’s why I never picked one up), but as my cousin Seth once kindly said about 327 Words, I can’t believe how much time I’ve wasted not reading them before now.

I just finished poring through Right Ho, Jeeves, an hilarious tale of broken wedding engagements, drunken speeches, and bad behavior on the part of upper-crust Britains, and I haven’t laughed out loud so much while reading anything since I first waded into the so-called “feuilletons” of S.J. Perelman.

What’s so especially rich about Wodehouse’s writing in how delightfully he captures the self-centered cluelessness of all his characters (save Jeeves), especially Bertram W. himself. Many’s the time I saw myself in his narcissism and craven behavior; here’s a fellow whose entire self-worth turns on the acquisition of a white mess dinner jacket with brass buttons, a sentiment that feels very familiar to somebody who has, in the past, allowed his happiness to turn more or less completely upon whether his knickers or cycling sweater matched the color of his bike or not.

I also like how Wodehouse, or at least Bertie, fully embraces the restorative powers of stiff drink, especially when pitching woo to the weaker sex. “You consider total abstinence a handicap to the gentleman who wishes to make a proposal of marriage, sir?” asks Jeeves. “Why dash it,” Bertie replies, astounded, “you must know it is.”

I certainly know, from my own experience, that I never would have wed were it not for distilled spirits; I’m quite sure that Jen, bless her heart, would never have pledged me her troth without the help of fancy cocktails and tiny bubbles.

“Give me a drink, Bertie,” says Aunt Dahlia.
“What sort?”
“Any sort, so long as it’s strong.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Wodehouse was required reading at my house. Glad to have you join the flock, as it were, old sport!

2:06 PM  

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