Ah, my man Jeeves

25th August 2010

P.G. Wodehouse. I wanted to read him for years. You know, on Twitter, there are frequent conversations about authors who intimidate us, authors we know we should read but don’t, etcetera, etcetera. I’ll be perfectly honest, I can’t stand Dickens. Nope, not even a little bit. No, not even that novel you love that you think I should just give a second chance. There are no second chances with Dickens. Life is short; Dickens is always long… winded, that is. However, I can also admit when I am wrong: I thought the Jeeves books would be a total joke, which in all fairness to me, they sort of are.

However, to call the genius that is Jeeves a total joke is the equivalent of comparing a 3-year-old’s knock-knock joke to Margaret Cho. (And that chick is fu-nny.) For those not in the know, this is Jeeves:

He’s thoroughly British, full of common sense, and 110% competent. He is valet to Bertie Wooster. Mr. Wooster…not so competent. Bertie is young, wealthy, and a bit of an airhead. He is constantly engaged to some woman or another, and usually, the engagement is either a ruse or the result of some verbal altercation with a beautiful but slightly crazy female. Jeeves is there to save the day, however.

I have now read two Jeeves stories: The Catnappers and How Right You Are, Jeeves. In both, I felt supremely sorry for Jeeves, who was attempting to visit relatives or take a small break from his exhausting boss. Alas, there are no holidays for valets. Instead, Bertie manages to ruin these mini-breaks, and Jeeves once again steps in to save Bertie and his surrounding cast of characters from disaster or at least, social disaster. The other recurring characters are Bertie’s aunts, whom he treats with loving disdain, referring to them as “aged relative” or “battle-ax.” The aunts are often as inane as Bertie but are also endearing and entertaining.

The plots are fast and funny, as is the dialogue. Wodehouse is a peach for knowing his grammar well enough to use it and misuse it well. Bertie will dangle a modifier and then humorously correct it. He is also one for malapropisms, and they are littered throughout the books. I highly recommend these social parodies; Wodehouse’s biting sarcasm equals the humorous social commentary Jane Austen was quite famous for. He just jazzes it up a bit.

  • I really am a fan of British humor — I’ve not picked these up so perhaps a chance will bring them my way this week! I’ll be in Boston and am excited to hit some of the used bookstores, which you know they will have these there!

    • Try them – they really are very fun and make me want to walk around all day saying “quite” quite a bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • So glad you finally experienced the pleasure of Wodehouse! And I am with you on Dickens… I am thinking of renaming him “Dickenzzz” because man does he overwrite. Wodehouse on the other hand is pithy and delightful, and I love the way his words dance on the page.

  • I’ve only read one Wodehouse (apparently one of his lesser books), enjoyed it a lot and looking to read more. Definitely want to read a Jeeves.

    I know a lot of bloggers (like Steph!) who don’t jive with Dickens but I just had to say how very much I love him. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • You should definitely read a Jeeves. So fun. Sorry for dissing Dickens – he and I have just never meshed.

  • Eva

    I don’t like Dickens either! And I’ve given him more than a second chance. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Isn’t Wodehouse fun? The audio versions are awesome too!

    • I bet the audio versions are great. I’d really like to watch some of the TV adaptations as well.

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