How to read P G Wodehouse: a practical guide

Robert Pimm
Robert Pimm

I recently inherited a splendid shelf-full of P G Wodehouse in a hand-tooled Folio edition.

My shelf of Wodehouse 

But where to begin with Wodehouse?

Pondering this problem, I was delighted to come across fellow WordPress blogger Plumtopia, who specialises in, amongst other things, how to read P G Wodehouse.  I discovered two invaluable articles:

Following the advice at the first link, I started with The Inimitable Jeeves and Carry on Jeeves, both of which are packed with laugh-out-loud moments and I can recommend wholeheartedly.  Fine quotes include e.g.

  • The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say ‘When!’
  • Mike nodded. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812 and said, “So, you’re back from Moscow, eh?”
  • It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.

The stories are undoubtedly somewhat similar to one another and appear to feature a smaller cast of characters than, say, Richmal Crompton’s Just William series (of which I am also fond).  So, up to now I am going for a conservative 8/10 rating.  But the bumptious dimness of the “mentally negligible” Bertie Wooster and the calm brilliance of Jeeves the butler has a reassuring, satisfying rhythm and as I get stuck into the third book (Very Good, Jeeves) I am thoroughly looking forward to spending time in their company.

I look forward to revisiting the advice of Plumtopia as I move forward with the works of P G Wodehouse over the months and, possibly, years ahead (have just finished Joy in the Morning, which surely qualifies as one of the best novel titles ever).  If you adore Wodehouse quotations, see my numerous reviews in the “PG Wodehouse” tab under “Categories”.

Finally, for true “Plum” aficionados, please note that Jeeves’s problem-solving abilities are a model for my very own Ms N, the world’s most brilliant, unpredictable and occasionally homicidal hotel manager, in my own comic writing, Seven Hotel Stories.  Enjoy!

P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, you can follow me on Facebook or join my mailing list – I’ll be delighted to give you a free “Hotel Story” to say thanks.  Check out the range of writing on this site via my five pleasure paths.


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4 Responses

  1. What Ho, Robert!
    It was very kind of you to mention Plumtopia. I’m chuffed! I’m glad to have found your blog too — I can see there is much for me to enjoy here.
    I take your point about the similarities in some of the Jeeves stories (some were rewritten and appear in more than one collection). Most of the remaining instalments are novels so you won’t find this quite so much. I do hope you also have a chance to try some of Wodehouse’s non-Jeeves stories. Everyone has their favourites — I’d suggest Something Fresh, Ukridge, or Leave it Psmith.
    Thanks again,

  2. I expect to inherit a set of Wodehouse too (not anytime soon, I hope) – though in a less handsome edition, and am glad to be reminded of the pleasure of re-reading him that await.

  3. Vor langer Zeit, als ich mit meiner Familie in London lebte, entdeckte ich ohne Hinweis(!) wodehouse und war sofort begeistert – kaufte alles in Paperback – damals 50p und finde es grossartig, dass es jetzt eine folio-Ausgabe gibt und dass diese im Besitz eines wirklichen Kenners ist. Ich vermute, dass die satirischen Werke eines österreichischen Autors nicht in einer handgefertigten Ausgabe erscheinen würden.

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