Thursday, July 27, 2006

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit

I didn't enjoy this novel as much as Carry On, Jeeves. Perhaps the problem is the fact that Wodehouse was so prolific, and wrote the same type of comedy over and over and over.

In an interesting essay by George Orwell, the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four says that the milieu that main character Bertie Wooster belonged to was dead and buried by 1915. This novel was written in 1954. Hence it has a kind of funny feel. To be precise, it's more than a tad anachronistic.

Here is the relevant passage from the Orwell essay:

'But there is another important point about Bertie Wooster: his out-of-dateness. Conceived in 1917 or thereabouts, Bertie really belongs to an epoch earlier than that. ...A humorous writer is not obliged to keep up to date, and having struck one or two good veins, Wodehouse continued to exploit them with a regularity that was no doubt all the easier because he did not set foot in England during the sixteen years that preceded his internment. His picture of English society had been formed before 1914, and it was a naive, traditional and, at bottom, admiring picture. ...His books are aimed, not, obviously, at a highbrow audience, but at an audience educated along traditional lines. ...In his radio interview with Flannery, Wodehouse wondered whether “the kind of people and the kind of England I write about will live after the war,” not realising that they were ghosts already. “He was still living in the period about which he wrote,” says Flannery, meaning, probably, the nineteen-twenties. But the period was really the Edwardian age, and Bertie Wooster, if he ever existed, was killed round about 1915.'

To be frank, I can barely remember half the plot. It seemed the sort of thing that Wodehouse could write in his sleep, somewhat like Barbara Cartland.

But this is only my second Wodehouse novel. There are some one hundred other books yet to be read. And I did enjoy my first Wodehouse book so much. Hopefully I will be writing glowingly of other Wodehouse novels soon.

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