February 19, 2012

The Code of the Woosters

What ho!  It's time to talk about Jeeves and Wooster.  The Code of the Woosters is one of many books written by P.G. Wodehouse featuring these two characters.  There was also a television series based on the books, with Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster.  Yes, Hugh Laurie from House.  He's British, and he's hilarious.  I saw an episode of House once, and it was jarring to see him with an American accent and acting grumpy. 

Jeeves and Wooster
In the U.S., we might call Jeeves a butler, but Wodehouse describes him as Wooster's valet, his "gentleman's gentleman."  He helps Wooster get dressed and undressed, picks out his clothes, makes tea, prepares meals, runs Wooster's bath, answers the phone- generally anything that Wooster needs done, Jeeves takes care of it for him.  The Jeeves and Wooster stories are told in the first person by Wooster.  They usually revolve around Wooster and his friends getting into trouble, whereby they rely on Jeeves to get them out of whatever mess they have created with some ingenious plan.  None of them have jobs and they have plenty of money, so they have the time and the resources to wreak havoc in each others' lives. There is a recurring cast of minor characters who show up among the different Jeeves and Wooster books, such as Wooster's aunts Agatha and Dahlia, and friends like Gussie Fink-Nottle and Tuppy Glossup.  Wooster quite often ends up accidentally engaged to a few of his female friends, although he has no desire to marry any of them.

As with other Jeeves and Wooster stories, The Code of the Woosters is very funny.  Wodehouse is clever and witty, and there were times when I laughed out loud reading it.  Actually, I can't just leave it at that.  Wodehouse is a master of language.  The way he turns a phrase is remarkable.  For instance:

I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.


'There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, "Do trousers matter?"'
‘The mood will pass, sir.’

It would almost do it a disservice to describe the plot, with all of its twists and turns and misunderstandings.  It involves a silver cow creamer, a lost notebook full of insults, and more than one on-and-off again wedding engagement.  The characters are likable, and the book is light-hearted and fun to read.  Even the antagonists aren't really bad.  They're more comical than anything.  I'm looking forward to reading as many Jeeves and Wooster stories as I can get my hands on, and luckily for me, P.G. Wodehouse was a prolific writer.

And what is the code of the Woosters?  "Never let a pal down."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...