Today we are discussing the first half (up through chapter 13) of Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse. What an interesting character Mr. PD Wodehouse was! He lived 93 years and for the life of me, I cannot figure out how many books he wrote (this should be an objective fact, right?!), but it was a lot!
I had never heard of him before I asked on Facebook for book suggestions for us. Kay Bruner said, “Anything by PD Wodehouse, because he makes me laugh.” I find that when the back of a book says, “Laugh out loud” I rarely . . . laugh out loud. Instead I feel marketed to and cranky. But when someone I know says, “Hey, I laughed out loud.” I pay attention.
I am so thankful I read this book! If you have not read it and think you are too busy, I would like to invite you to one of the best decisions you’ll make this summer.
When I read this on Wikipedia, I thought, “That’s it! That is why I am enjoying this book.”
“Wordplay is a key element in Wodehouse’s writing. This can take the form of puns, such as [example given]. Linguistic confusion is another humorous mechanism, such as in Uncle Dynamite when Constable Potter says he has been ‘assaulted by the duck pond.’ In reply, Sir Aylmer, confusing the two meanings of the word ‘by’, asks: ‘How the devil can you be assaulted by a duck pond?’ Wodehouse also uses metaphor and mixed metaphor to add humour. Some come through exaggeration, such as Bingo Little’s infant child who ‘not only has the aspect of a mass murderer, but that of a mass murderer suffering from an ingrown toenail’. Bertie Wooster’s half-forgotten vocabulary also provides a further humorous device. In Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit Bertie asks Jeeves “Let a plugugly like young Thos loose in the community with a cosh, and you are inviting disaster and … what’s the word? Something about cats.” Jeeves replies, “Cataclysms, sir?”
I found the writing style to be so conversational I felt like I was hearing the book in my head more than other books I’ve read recently. In fact, it reads more like a sitcom—a fun, light read in a busy season, eh?
I highlighted an absurd amount and can’t share them all (or this might move from a comedy to a murder mystery with the thoughts you’d have towards me), but here are a few:
1. But the snag I always come up against when I’m telling a story is this dashed difficult problem of where to begin it.
So true, especially when it comes to presentations to supporters. How do you summarize a year, two years, or four?! Where to begin?
2. Aunt Dahlia would have played baccarat
Another game I’ve never heard of! Whist in 80 Days, and now baccarat.
3. I [Bertie] was exercised about the poor fish [Gussie], as I am about all my pals, close or distant, who find themselves treading upon Life’s banana skins. It seemed to me that he was up against it.
“Treading on Life’s banana skins!” It perfectly sums up certain seasons, doesn’t it?!
4. I don’t want to wrong anybody, so I won’t go so far as to say that she actually wrote poetry . . .
Hahah! I howled. I’m in a family of people who process their feelings through poetry. What is one way it has never occurred to me to process my feelings? Until I saw others doing it and I wondered if it would work for me. Um, . . . I won’t go so far as to say that I actually won’t write poetry :).
(I just noticed these all came from Chapter one! If I don’t move it along, we’ll be here all day.)
5. He meant no harm, I suppose, but I’m bound to say that this tactless speech nettled me not a little. People are always nettling me like that.
More often than I’d like, me too!
The telegram interaction between Bertie and his aunt:
Perplexed. Explain. Bertie.
What on earth is there to be perplexed about, ass? Come at once. Travers.
Three cigarettes and a couple of turns about the room, and I had my response ready:
How do you mean come at once? Regards. Bertie.
I append the comeback:
I mean come at once, you maddening half-wit. What did you think I meant? come at once or expect an aunt’s curse first post tomorrow. Love. Travers.
6. I decided to check out all this rot at the outset. Nobody is more eager to oblige deserving aunts than Bertram Wooster, but here are limits and sharply defined limits, at that.
Oh are we all hypocritical gooses? Eager to oblige, yet having sharply defined limits.
I’m pretty sure I can guess how this is going to end, but I truly made myself stop at the end of Chapter 13 and can’t read on until I finish this post. What I’m not sure, is what other ill-advised support Bertie is going to offer and how Jeeves will help.
Right ho, Jeeves!
This seems such an appropriate summer read, to me. What do you think? It’s okay to not really like it :).
See you in the comments,
P.S. Next week we’ll finish Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse.
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