And that's it for summer semester. (Well, almost; my IS student hasn't turned in his second paper yet. If it's not at my office when I go in tomorrow, he's toast.)puppybreak
generally isn't as good as kittenbreak
, but the last two, hot dog
, have been very cute.
I just finished a P. G. Wodehouse marathon, reading everything of his that I had in the house: The World of Jeeves
, The Code of the Woosters
, Thank You, Jeeves
, Psmith Journalist
, and Leave It to Psmith
. I previously wrote that I preferred the last to the Jeeves/Wooster stories, but I think I'd like to (as the congresscritters say) revise and extend my remarks.
Set Psmith Journalist
aside immediately. It's a very early and inferior work; apart from the very beginning and the very end, it's scarcely recognizable as Wodehouse; otherwise, it's not much more than a serviceable story about muckraking.Leave It to Psmith
is stylistically very different from the Jeeves/Wooster stories. In particular, it's told in third person omniscient style. This has advantages for the kind of story PGW is telling here; we get to see all the different schemes as they develop - Joe conspiring with Freddy, Freddy with Psmith, Joe with Eve, Cootes with Lizzie - and enjoy their multiple collisions, as people who should be allies get in each other's way, and people who should be enemies inadvertently help each other. Once things get moving, it goes like a string of firecrackers. But it takes so bloody long to get started; roughly half of the book is spent on developing the characters and getting them all out to Blandings Castle. I find myself somewhat less pleased with it this time, especially in such close conjunction with the Jeeves/Wooster stories.
The latter stories are all told in first person; Bertie is the narrator in all but one case, a short story narrated by Jeeves. The shorts tend to be much of a muchness after a while; reading a Wodehouse anthology at one or a few gulps has the same numbing effect as doing the same to, say, Saki. The two novels give Wodehouse room to stretch, to interweave plot lines with some measure of complexity. He doesn't achieve the same intricacy as in Leave It to Psmith
, but filtering everything through poor silly Bertie's eyes allows other storylines to arrive with a bit more surprise. An attentive reader may not be quite as surprised as Bertie, but that's part of the fun too. Thank You, Jeeves
is, unfortunately, marred by some casual racism - admittedly, only so much as would be appropriate to the setting (mid-'30s Britain), but still a little disruptive. But The Code of the Woosters
is very fine indeed. I have to reverse myself in part: that novel is definitely superior to Leave It to Psmith