Saturday, January 2, 2010


Bertram "Bertie" Wooster is a lazy, self-indulgent, amiable, and wealthy British bachelor with an endless supply of needy friends getting into disastrous shenanigans (often ones that include wealthy aunts and inheretances on the brink of loss, or love affairs gone sour through misunderstandings). Luckily, Bertie has hapless his life beaten into order by a new and tyrannical valet, Jeeves, a man of resolute opinions, crafty ideas, and tons of circumspect gossip. This particular volume in the Jeeves series features 9 separate episodes, in each of which Jeeves is put upon to save the day through various machinations. It should also be mentioned that in at least half the cases Jeeves is the one who creates the problem that needs to be solved, but somehow always comes out looking like a hero in the end.

Another product of my Fill-in-the-Gaps list: Jeeves, the know-it-all valet, has become a kind of cultural idiom in the English speaking world, but I'd never actually read any of the literature in the Jeeves series, or anything by Wodehouse, the very prolific transatlantic humorist. (I'd never even seen any of the BBC dramatizations, although now I've added them to my Netflix queue, natch.) The prose is light and enjoyable--really very much in the vein of arch slapstick bourgeois British comedy--and although I don't think I'm going to become one of the rabid Wodehouse worshipers (I know there are armies of adherents) I'm very glad I got a taste.


Jane Steen said...

Wodehouse! The snigger-inducer! Don't you find that your response to many of his lines is a snigger? If you're in the right mood, he's an absolute delight. Get the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry DVDs for a nicely done BBC version of the great W.

And congratulations on adding a British Institution to your reading repertoire.

moonrat said...

yeah, I'm really excited about the Laurie/Fry I've ordered for myself. While waiting for them to arrive, I entertain myself by wondering which actor is Jeeves and which is Wooster. (I know the whole thing could be easily answered by going to IMDB, but it's more fun this way. Also I imagine them fighting over who gets to play whom.)