Carry On Jeeves (P G Wodehouse)

bookPGW revels so much in the richness of the English language to get his laughs and there’s never so much as one word in his prose that’s surplus to requirement, or indeed a passage approaching anything less than perfect in its pace or construction. It’s as if his work was edited by some sort of super human deity. There is nothing jarring or awkward; just fabulous comic writing page after page, time and time again.

This is a collection of ten short stories published in 1925. The real joy of any Wodehouse book is the language: the dialogue zips along at a wonderful pace, scattering fantastic images and outrageous ’20s slang as it goes. This comes to a halt, however, in the final story, which is narrated by Jeeves rather than Bertie. The story and the characters are as perfectly-formed as ever, but as I polished off the last few pages in the book I found myself missing Bertie’s garrulous companionship. Far from ruining the book for me though, the unexpected end simply whetted my appetite for more in this wonderful series.

Even though the world of butlers and aristocratic drones in the 1920s may as well be life of the Siberian Steppes to us web connected suburbanites, the human comedy never really changes. It was the Jeeves and Wooster stories, not “Seinfeld”, that was the original “show about nothing.” Every story starts from a minor mishap that turns into major mayhem, requiring the sagacious Jeeves to slide in and rescue his well meaning but socially accident prone patron from the self induced quagmire. Of course, the real charm of these stories comes from the characters. Every story is populated by a new set of colourful, unsupporting cast of rich aunts and uncles, grasping nephews, clueless beaus and brides-to-be.

But the great constant is the semi-dynamic duo, Bertie and his manservant, Jeeves. Bertie and his friends manage to get in scrape after scrape, but Jeeves always manages to come to the rescue (once his pique over matters of sartorial taste are mollified) with his extensive knowledge of his “betters” and their quirks of behavior. He knows his master does not have much but air between his ears. A hilarious theme running through all of this is that Bertie Wooster, and all his privileged friends, believe that work is beyond the pale. It is out of the question that they lift a finger for their fellow man. They are so lethargic they need their servants to do their thinking for them as well, the useless blighters.

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Comments

  1. I love the BBC radio dramas based on these stories – fantastic!
    I got myself few of the books not so long ago, haven’t read them yet but I intend to 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for commenting. Those radio dramas sound good! 🙂

    Like

  3. His comic turn of phrase, the richness of the language, and the invaluable wisdom, leave one gasping for more!

    Liked by 1 person

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