Saturday, May 14, 2011

3. Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954) - P.G. Wodehouse

I had slept fitfully on the plank bed which was all that Vinton Street Gestapo had seen their way to provide for the use of clients, so after partaking of a hearty meal I turned in between the sheets. Like Rollo Beaminster, I wanted to forget. It must have been well after the luncheon hour when the sound of the telephone jerked me out of the dreamless. Feeling a good deal refreshed, I shoved on a dressing-gown and went to the instrument.

Wodehouse is perhaps best known for his Jeeves and Wooster series, of which this book is a part of. A hugely popular author, the series documents the life of Bertie Wooster, a wealthy English dandy, and his valet Jeeves. The plots largely revolve around romantic liaisons of the English upper class, often with hilarious (and ingenious) outcomes. However, as this blog post puts it, 'the genius of Wodehouse lies in the brilliance of his prose', one of my favourites being 'She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say "when".'

After being introduced to Wodehouse by my cousin I have fallen absolutely in love with this writer. Never have I come across an author who manages to be incredibly witty, charming, a bit silly but still compelling to read, all at the same time. I know Wodehouse won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I cannot recommend enough that people at least try reading one of his novels, and I only wish that this extract that ended up on page 56 better reflected all that I have said thus far

I have only read the first two novels in this series (although I believe they can be read in any order), and I found that this particular volume was not my favourite of the lot. It was a bit slow in the beginning, and I sometimes deplore the fickle and strange female characters that Wodehouse provides. The men are just as fickle, but they are also more often then not head over heels in love, which I feel explains their flightiness - the heart wants what it wants and what not. But the women tend to be the ones being pursued and likewise appear more firm in their opinions...generally...that is until they decide they'll marry this fella instead due to a hilarious misunderstanding. I definitely prefer less dreamy lovebirds and more Wooster trying to act like the genius he thinks he is and inevitably being saved by the indomitable Jeeves. A bit formulaic in structure, but that is part of the reason why I love Wodehouse (besides him being incredibly funny) because you always know how things will turn out, but can still be surprised by what happens in between. There is something about Wodehouse that calms the soul and brings sunshine into one's life, providing a healing quality that is hard to describe or convey until one has experienced it for ones self. A light and happy read in the best way possible, but if you don't believe me, then listen to Stephen Fry.

I [Fry] think I should end on a personal note. I have written it before and am not ashamed to write it again. Without Wodehouse I am not sure that I would be a tenth of what I am today - whatever that may be. In my teenage years, his writings awoke me to the possibilities of language. His rhythms, tropes, tricks and mannerisms are deep within me. But more than that, he taught me something about good nature. It is enough to be benign, to be gentle, to be funny, to be kind. 
He [Wodehouse] mocked himself sometimes because he knew that a great proportion of his readers came from prisons and hospitals. At the risk of being sententious, isn't it true that we are all of us, for a great part of our lives, sick or imprisoned, all of us in need of this remarkable healing spirit, this balm for hurt minds? 
4 Stars

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