Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book: The World of Jeeves



The "World of Jeeves" is P.G. Wodehouse's first omnibus or 'solid-slab'. It is a compendium of Jeeves & Wooster stories that weighs in at a hefty 780 odd pages, although the dizzying height of the book should not deter the potential reader. Each story stands pretty much alone and runs between 20 to 30 pages on average, which happens to be about spot on the length of one of my typical reading sessions. 

My favourite stories from the collection:

- The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy
- Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest
- The Aunt and the Sluggard
- Purity of the Turf

While there is much repetition in the plots of the stories, the beautiful use of language keeps the reader coming back for more. For example, in Wodehouse's world people don't simply enter in to rooms, they flow, trickle, drift, or pour themselves into a room, and they sail out.

As an aside, when I was about midway through this book, I started watching the classic ITV series of Jeeves & Wooster featuring Stephen Fry and High Laurie, and from that point onward I couldn't help but to picture the two actors as the characters, which is no bad thing - they are brilliant in these roles.

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Quotes and other bits

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I don't know if you know that sort of feeling you get on those days around about the end of April and the beginning of May, when the sky's a light blue with cotton-wool clouds and there's a bit of a breeze blowing from the west? Kind of uplifted feeling. Romantic, if you know what I mean. I’m not much of a ladies’ man, but on this particular morning it seemed to me that what I really wanted was some charming girl to buzz up and ask me to save her from assassins or something.

-

'What ho!' I said.
'What ho!', said Motty.
'What ho! What ho!
'What ho! What ho! What ho!'
After that is seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.

-

Motty: 'I've got about a month of New York, and I mean to store up a few happy memories for the long winter evenings. This is my only chance to collect a past, and I'm going to do it.'

-

I could stand this all right after dinner, and even after lunch; but before breakfast, no. We Woosters are amiability itself, but there is a limit.

-

'I have been wounded to the very depths of my soul, but don't speak about it.'
'I won't.'
'Ignore it. Forget it.'
'Absolutely!'

-

Nobody is more alive than I am to the fact that young Bingo Little is in many respect a sound old egg; but I must say there are things about him that could be improved.

-

He's lost his pep. He's got no dash.

-

..a trifle too much for a fellow like me who wants to jog along peacefully though life.

-

'That is the line of attach,' said Bingo. 'That is the scheme'

-

I made up my mind that I would pop back and do the strong, manly thing by lying low in my flat and telling Jeeves to tell everybody who called that I wasn't at home.

-

I nodded myself. I hadn't had my eight hours the night before, and what you might call a lethargy was showing a tendency to steal over me from time to time

-

This afternoon I went to sit in the garden, and she popped up through a trap and was in my midst. This evening she cornered me in the morning room. It's getting so that, when I have a bath, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find her nestling in the soap dish.

-

'What's to be done, Jeeves?'
'We must think, sir.'
'You think. I haven't the machinery.'

-

'What do ties matter, Jeeves, at a time like this? Do you realise that Mr. Little's domestic happiness is hanging in the scale?'
'There is not time, sir, at which ties do not matter.'

-

..there is one department of life in which I am Hawkshaw the detective in person. I can recognise Love's Young Dream more quickly than any other bloke of my weight and age in the Metropolis.

-

Bend you brain to the problem, Jeeves. It is one that will tax you the uttermost.

-

Of the trouble and nervous strain which this will involve, I say nothing.

-

How many tins of sardines did you eat, Jeeves?
None, sir. I am not fond of sardines.
You mean, you thought of this great, this ripe, this amazing scheme entirely without the impetus given to the brain by fish?
Yes, sit.
You stand alone, Jeeves.
Thank you, sir.

-

...you've got it admit, the man can plan a campaign. Napoleon could have taken his correspondence course.

-

Very good sir, Pardon me, sir, are you proposing to appear in those garments in public.

-

I've had enough of it. From now on I assert my personality.

-

It never does to expose the these brain waves to the public eye before you've examined them from every angle.

-

...it is not too late for you to be saved. You have only sipped of the cup of evil. You have not drained it.

-

There are the times that try men's souls.

-

Young Bingo is long and thin and hasn't had a superfluous ounce on him since we met; but the uncle restored the average and a bit over.

-

The method which I advocate is what, I believe, the advertisers call the Direct Suggestion

-

And some choice snippets:

'..drinking each other in'
'if you examine it squarely'
'we Woosters are old campaigners'
we can take the rough with the smooth
stirred to the core
hang it all!
we were full of beans
Become 'unstitched'
The small hours
bucked
braced
brooding over
sozzled
to restore his tissues
a trifle agitated
that scheme has blown a fuse
improving books
instructing book
It's rummy how...
A rum thing indeed
Dash it
What absolute rot!
Restoring the physique
Blithering
Blighter
Sound notion
..above the common herd
A man's faculties
The Younger Set
Couldn't stick the thing
Knee deep in the bouillon
hard-boiled egg
in the soup
the ancestral home
a reduced sort of state

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