Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jeeves In The Offing - P.G. Wodehouse

If life were to be perfect, it would have me reading a Wodehouse book all the time. In fact the other day I saw my first Jeeves and Wooster video with Stephen Fry playing Jeeves and Hugh Laurie playing Bertie Wooster and it is a wonderful recreation of the world that Wodehouse has created. So my perfect life would now have both - the books, which remain in a  class of their own, and the videos, for times when one wants to watch videos.
Arrow Books, Rs.225, 200 p

I have always been intrigued by how Wodehouse creates his plots and characters. The technique behind it really, because the plots would somehow get so complex sometimes. I got a small clue when I was reading 'Jeeves in the Offing'. Having created the classical characters in the plot, Wooster, Jeeves, the aunts, the side players such as his friends and the Glossops etc Wodehouse gets the cast of characters to a particular place. Then he bungs in a situation where someone wants something, and Wooster, the poor soul, with his code of never letting his friends down under any circumstances, gets into the most awkward situations of getting engaged to girls he does not want to marry, steal things he does not need to and so on. The plot rises as Wooster attempts to sort things out in a rather clumsy fashion, until Jeeves steps in and sorts it out. Normally at Wooster's expense.

Wooster is an incredible character and his utterances are simply delightful. In this book Bertie is invited by his Aunt Dahlia (no comparison to Aunt Agatha who devours the young...) to stay at her house. Now there is a bunch of guests already staying there - an American magnate's mystery novel writing wife (Ma Cream), her son who is confused with another (Wilbert Cream a.k.a. Broadway Willie), Glossop, the nerve specialist keeping a close eye on the American's son disguised as the butler Swordish, the Master of a prep school which Bertie and his friend Kipper had attended Upjohn, his niece Phyllis Mills and Ms. Bobby Wickham, the red headed, high spirited girl that Bertie was once engaged to (Now, listen Buster..). Now the whole plot rests on not upsetting the Americans with whom Uncle Tom is trying to strike a deal. There's romance, there's intrigue, there are dogs and suspicion and most of all there is humour of such high quality that you laugh out loud uncontrollably.

I heard that Wodehouse would put up pages and pages of his plot on the wall to check where the energy was dropping. He never let any gap go and always aimed for perfection. I'd like to know how many authors take such care with their works and their readers. No wonder Stephen Fry said - You don't analyse such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour. Ah, lovely.

I cannot thank P.G.Wodehouse enough for making life so bearable and so funny, for bringing me a world that I can always escape into, for showing the Wooster who exists in me (and making me feel good about it) and mostly for making me laugh till my sides ache. No one else has made me laugh as much and I am sure many others agree, and for just that, Mr. Wodehouse you deserve a salute.


harimohan said...

Reading this on his birthday today is a tribute to the master

Harimohan said...

Thanks Hari. You're right. Did you watch the BBC series on Jeeves? Worth a watch.