Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wooster

Kevin DeYoung really likes P.G. Wodehouse. So do I and for the same reasons:
Wodehouse (1881-1975) is hands down one of the best writers in the English language. Ever.

He isn’t profound. He isn’t penetrating. His books may not be dissected in lit classes. But his command of vocabulary and syntax is amazing. And his humor is, unlike many humorists, actually very, very funny. There’s nothing like unwinding with a little Jeeves and Wooster after a four hour elder meeting to get the old egg cracking again, what? ....

The stories are about nothing, but the characters are so memorable (e.g., the newt loving Gussie Fink-Nottle), and the dialogue so perfectly ridiculous (“Hello ugly, what brings you here?”), and his insults so ingenious (“It was as if nature had intended to make a gorilla, and had changed its mind at the last moment”) that you can’t help grin, chuckle, and even occasionally cackle. ....
Uncontrollable laughter is my personal experience. That's alright in private but less so among strangers in public transit.

DeYoung gives several examples from Wodehouse, funny but funnier in context. A few of his chosen Bertie Woosterisms:
  • She looked at me in rather a rummy way. It was a nasty look. It made me feel as if I were something the dog had brought in and intended to bury later on, when he had time.
  • I ordered another. If this was going to be fish-story, I needed stimulants.
  • Honoria, you see, is one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a welter-weight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge.
  • There was a death-where-is-thy-sting-fulness about her manner which I found distasteful.
  • For the first time since the bushes began to pour forth Glossops, Bertram Wooster could be said to have breathed freely. I don’t say that I actually came out from behind the bench, but I did let go of it, and with something of the relief which those three chaps in the Old Testament must have experienced after sliding out of the burning fiery furnace, I even groped tentatively for my cigarette case.
  • She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say “when.” [more]
Early Wodehouse has come into the public domain, including some very early Jeeves and Wooster,  and are downloadable at ManyBooks, free, for Kindle, etc. DeYoung recommends Right Ho, Jeeves as a good place to start reading Wodehouse and the link in this sentence leads to the free e-book of that title.

Another Novelist to Consider Reading | TGC