He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.
May 24, 2012 12:45 PM   Subscribe

He uttered a sound much like a bull dog swallowing a pork chop whose dimensions it has underestimated. Random P G Wodehouse quote generator. That is all.
posted by unSane (109 comments total) 134 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am getting repetitive stress pains in my finger from hitting refresh so many times. This is sublime.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:53 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seriously! I wanted to say that 'some of these are magical" but that "some" is so far an unnecessary qualifier. It is taking all of my energy to not just cut and paste each of them I've received into this thread because each one is just brilliant and I want to share them all. So please, go do it yourself.

(And I say this as someone who has read no Wodehouse...a mistake I'm soon to rectify.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:00 PM on May 24, 2012


Fabulous post Uns - many, many thanks (I'm a total Wodehouse nut). One of my favourites (that I'm probably seriously misquoting) is his describing someone having a beaming smile as shiny as the seat of a bus driver's trousers. You have to be a certain age (and probably from the UK) to fully appreciate that one.....
posted by MajorDundee at 1:00 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was bravely holding it in here at work until I got to

Honoria . . . is one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a welter-weight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge.

Now they all think I am insane.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:01 PM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


As life goes on, don't you find that all you need is about two real friends, a regular supply of books, and a Peke?

The only thing that prevented a father's love from faltering was the fact that there was in his possession a photograph of himself at the same early age, in which he, too, looked like a homicidal fried egg.
posted by curious nu at 1:03 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I love you for sharing this. A craptastic day rendered much better.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:04 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding MCMikeNamara, I'm going to have to read some Wodehouse. Where's a good place to start?
posted by jcreigh at 1:04 PM on May 24, 2012


I have never read any Wodehouse, but having just been served two helpings of Uncle Dynamite which each left me snorting my iced latte into my sinuses, I will now be adding that work to my list.
posted by spicynuts at 1:06 PM on May 24, 2012


I, too, am here to ask where to start with Wodehouse. However, I have the distinct (dis)advantage of having not been captivated by attempts at both a short story collection and Thank You, Jeeves.
posted by griphus at 1:06 PM on May 24, 2012


I picture Wodehouse writing these and laughing to himself. Deservedly so.
posted by tommasz at 1:08 PM on May 24, 2012


I'm going to toss in my recommendation for starting Wodehouse. I just read "Love amoung the Chickens" and loved it. It's available on Guttenberg and is truly laugh out loud funny.
posted by saffry at 1:09 PM on May 24, 2012


I'm partial to Code of the Woosters, which has one of my favorite jokes (I'm including it here on the grounds that I haven't yet seen it from the random quote generator):

I remembered something Jeeves had once called Gussie. "A sensitive plant, what?"
"Exactly. You know your Shelley, Bertie."
"Oh, am I?"

posted by uosuaq at 1:10 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seconding MCMikeNamara, I'm going to have to read some Wodehouse. Where's a good place to start?

I believe Thank You, Jeeves is the first novel, and the canonical starting point, but I kicked it off with The Code of the Woosters and didn't miss much. You are plunged into a pretty alien world no matter where you start, so you have to spend some time brushing over stuff until you have a better understanding of life in the Bertieverse.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:11 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a huge Wodehouse fanatic. The man was beyond brilliant with language. No write makes me laugh. The only one that has ever come close is John Kennedy Toole.

For those discovering Wodehouse, read his books (of course) but also check out a wonderful book called Wodehouse In His Own Words by Barry Day. It tells you a lot about the man, but it is largely a lovingly curated collection of great Wodehouse quotations.

I'd list my favorites, but I don't time to type out 100 or so quotations.
posted by dios at 1:12 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


For those wanting a good way into these books, check the Librivox archive! Most of these are excellent readings of great and funny books.
posted by strixus at 1:13 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only one that has ever come close is John Kennedy Toole.

Huh. I read some Wodehouse and was mildly amused (there were some fantastic one-liners but on the whole it felt like essays in a language that I barely spoke) and I have tried several times to get the least enjoyment out of A Confederacy of Dunces and failed completely. Never occurred to me that they're both part of a larger class of things that I Do Not Get.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2012


I'm saving this one:
He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life, and found a dead beetle at the bottom.
posted by vespabelle at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


She looked at me like someone who has just solved the crossword puzzle with a shrewd "Emu" in the top right hand corner.

This is how I will endeavor to look for the rest of my life.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


> I am getting repetitive stress pains in my finger from hitting refresh so many times.

Preventing RSI on MeFi since 2012!

This page would load a new quote every seven seconds.

(Comments and suggestions welcome.)
posted by egor83 at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought nothing could top "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove" until I got to "The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G. K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin," at which point I started weeping with that strange combination of helpless laughter and envy.

Wodehouse is... the World's Most Amusing Man.
posted by scody at 1:21 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a huge Wodehouse fan, I'm so glad to see this hit the blue. More Wodehouse fans! Anyways, here' a great amusing interview he did with the Paris Review back in 1975.
posted by General Malaise at 1:22 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh my god, I can't stop.

Introduced to his child in the nursing home, he recoiled with a startled "Oi!" and as the days went by the feeling that he had run up against something red-hot in no way diminished. The only thing that prevented a father's love from faltering was the fact that there was in his possession a photograph of himself at the same early age, in which he, too, looked like a homicidal fried egg.
posted by scody at 1:25 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just how many tins of sardines did you eat, unSane?
posted by benzenedream at 1:25 PM on May 24, 2012


Mike nodded. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812 and said, "So, you're back from Moscow, eh?".



posted by ghharr at 1:26 PM on May 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Huh... I hated Confederacy Of Dunces.., i thought it was a one trick pony and the trick got very old after three chapters. Maybe I'll hate Wodehouse too, then. Thoughts?
posted by spicynuts at 1:27 PM on May 24, 2012


I had the exact same reaction to Confederacy of Dunces and I'm still totally up for getting into Wodehouse.
posted by griphus at 1:29 PM on May 24, 2012


Huh... I hated Confederacy Of Dunces.., i thought it was a one trick pony and the trick got very old after three chapters. Maybe I'll hate Wodehouse too, then. Thoughts?
- spicynuts
They have nothing to do with one another except that they are both mentioned in this thread and they are both comedic and from near the same time period.
posted by cyphill at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm. My last of comment was butchered. What I was trying to say was that, other than Wodehouse, no writer has ever made me consistently laugh (this is excluding outright comedians). Wodehouse gets a laugh out of me on every page. The Toole comment was suggesting that he is the only other writer that came close. But Wodehouse stands on his own as genius of humor.

“What ho!" I said.
"What ho!" said Motty.
"What ho! What ho!"
"What ho! What ho! What ho!"
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.

posted by dios at 1:36 PM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Just the character names in Wodehouse books crack me up. Some days, when I'm feeling down, I just repeat "Tuppy Glossop" to myself until my mood improves.
posted by neroli at 1:36 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, this:

Many men in Packy's position would have shrunk from diving into the rescue, fully clad. Packy was one of them.
posted by neroli at 1:37 PM on May 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


If this were the only thing on the WWW I'd tell Mr Berners-Lee "well done".
posted by cell divide at 1:40 PM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Just the character names in Wodehouse books crack me up. Some days, when I'm feeling down, I just repeat "Tuppy Glossop" to myself until my mood improves.

I have always enjoyed "Catsmeat" Potter Pirbright.
posted by briank at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And there is the great line that always makes me think of quonsar:

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

posted by dios at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


She fitted into my biggest armchair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing armchairs tight about the hips that season.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:44 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


They pointed out that the friendship between the two artistes had always been a by-word or whatever you called it. A well-read Egg summed it up by saying they were like Thingummy and what's-his-name.
posted by junco at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2012


Haven't seen it yet in the generator, probably will if I spend enough time with it: "It was one of those topping mornings, and I had just climbed out from under the cold shower, feeling like a two-year-old."
posted by Infinity_8 at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2012


I can't believe any of you weren't already into Wodehouse. How can anyone not be into P.G. Wodehouse? Douglas Adams idolized him, you know.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 PM on May 24, 2012


I disliked Confederacy and love Wodehouse. A long time ago I accosted some poor woman in the grocery store parking lot because she had the vanity tag "PSMITH" on her car. I thought, A-ha! I must meet this person!

Her name was Peggy Smith. And no, she'd never heard of Wodehouse.
posted by workerant at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


(The "Peggy" is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan.)
posted by uosuaq at 1:55 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, not to darken the mood, but: this isn't really a random quote generator. It's a random quote presenter, supplier, producer. A generator would construct Wodehouse-esque material from the components of the language, which I'm afraid would require a kind of circuit unknown to computer engineering.

We don't know what that circuit is, but we do know some of what its characteristics would be. One would be that it keeps another circuit on-hand to do all its thinking for it. Instead of AND, OR or NOT, perhaps we could call it EH WOT.
posted by JHarris at 1:57 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is, of course, wonderful, but it bothers me that they're not using accurate quotes. The first one I got was:
For an instance Wilfred Allsop's face lit up, as that of the poet Shelley whom he so closely resembled must have done when realised that `blithe spirit' rhymes with `near it,' not that it does, and another ode as good as off the assembly line.

——Galahad at Blandings (1964)
The book actually has, as you would expect, "For an instant," not "For an instance."

> they are both mentioned in this thread and they are both comedic and from near the same time period.

If by "from near the same time period" you mean "mostlhy twentieth-century." Wodehouse's best work was done before Toole was born.

> I, too, am here to ask where to start with Wodehouse.

I'm going to go against the current and recommend not one of the Jeeves books but Something Fresh, one of the funniest books I've ever read (and wonderful to read aloud, as PGW always is). From there you can go on to the rest of the Blandings books, and from there to Jeeves, and you'll be hooked for life.
posted by languagehat at 1:58 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bertie and Jeeves are, of course, the Basic Wodehouse. But I've been growing fonder and fonder of the stories set at Blandings Castle, featuring Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings, who has won the silver two years in a row for Fattest Pig. And I've started several people with "Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin" -- a gateway Wodehouse, as it were.

The Mulliner stories are gems of a slightly different sort. This is what Wodehouse had to say about the collected Mulliner stories: "I must warn my public that in The World of Mr. Mulliner I am writing as funny as I can. As regards the medium dose for an adult, I would recommend not more than two or three stories, taken at breakfast or before retiring. Nervous people and invalids will of course be guided by their doctor's advice."

If you're lucky enough to have someone to read aloud with, Wodehouse is significantly funnier read out loud. You have to go slower, for one thing, and the names are much tastier.
posted by kestralwing at 1:59 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The girl had as many curves as a scenic railway."

See also: How the Woosters captured Delhi - article from 2002 talking about his popularity in India.
posted by vidur at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Barmy went to the door and opened it sharply. There came the unmistakable sound of a barmaid falling downstairs.

There is no work of literature that would not be improved by having this as the first line.
posted by permafrost at 2:03 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to agree about reading out loud being key. I had a few false starts with reading wodehouse, and just didn't get it at all. Then I tried again after seeing the Jeeves and Wooster (tv series from the UK from the 80s), but it wasn't until I discovered the numerous audiobooks that I started to understand Wodehouse's brilliance. (I'm particularly fond of Jonathan Cecill as reader)

If you've tried reading and don't see the big deal definitely give the audiobooks a chance.
posted by julesm at 2:07 PM on May 24, 2012


She looked at me like someone who has just solved the crossword puzzle with a shrewd "Emu" in the top right hand corner.

I've never wanted a sockpuppet account before, but now I do just so I can name it "shrewdemu"
posted by benito.strauss at 2:12 PM on May 24, 2012


“I want your advice,” said Celia.

“Certainly. What is the trouble? By the way,” I said, looking around, “where is your fiancé?”

“I have no fiancé,” she said in a dull, hard voice.

“You have broken off the engagement?”

“Not exactly. And yet--well, I suppose it amounts to that.”

“I don’t quite understand.”

“Well, the fact is,” said Celia in a burst of girlish frankness, “I rather think I’ve killed George.”

“Killed him, eh?”

It was a solution that had not occurred to me, but now that it was presented for my inspection I could see its merits. In these days of national effort, when we are all working together to try to make our beloved land fit for heroes to live in, it was astonishing that nobody before had thought of a simple, obvious thing like killing George Mackintosh. George Mackintosh was undoubtedly better dead, but it had taken a woman’s intuition to see it.

--“The Salvation of George Mackintosh”
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 2:13 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This. Perfects. My. Life.

``I hate you, I hate you!'' cried Madeline, a thing I didn't know anyone ever said except in the second act of a musical comedy.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:14 PM on May 24, 2012


By the way, quite a few Wodehouse novels and short stories are available as free e-books. If you're just thinking of giving Wodehouse a try, you can download Something Fresh (languagehat's suggestion above) -- under its original American title, Something New -- to your Kindle for the low, low cost of nothing at all. I assume the same applies for other such devices.
posted by uosuaq at 2:14 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


“I met Dahlia Prenderby once,” said the Egg. “I thought she seemed a nice girl.”

“Freddy thought so, too. He loved her madly.”

“And lost her, of course?”

“Absolutely.”

“Do you know,” said a thoughtful Bean, “I’ll bet that if all the girls Freddie has loved and lost were placed end to end--not that I suppose one could do it--they would reach half-way down Piccadilly.”

“Further than that,” said the Egg. “Some of them were pretty tall. What beats me is why he ever bothers to love them. They always turn him down in the end. He might just as well never begin. Better, in fact, because in the time saved he could be reading some good book.”

--“Good Bye to All Cats”
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 2:20 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know if it's pronounced WOOD-house or does it rhyme with 'roadhouse'?

I'm askin' for real.
posted by resurrexit at 2:22 PM on May 24, 2012


WOOD-house.
posted by griphus at 2:25 PM on May 24, 2012


Yes, WOODhouse. It irritated me very much on "Gilmore Girls" when Rory Gilmore pronounced his name incorrectly, because Rory Gilmore, the most bookish character on television, is not allowed to not know this.
posted by OolooKitty at 2:27 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am jealous of people who haven't read Wodehouse yet and are about to.
posted by feckless at 2:38 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


".On the occassions when Aunt is calling to Aunt like mastodonts bellowing across primeval swamps"
posted by MartinWisse at 2:38 PM on May 24, 2012


vidur: " How the Woosters captured Delhi"

My father spent the late 60s in Bombay, in the midst of the founding of the English-language advertising industry in India. Despite having spent little time outside Punjab until that point, what counted hugely in his favour in cosmopolitan English-speaking Bombay was that he could recite large sections of Wodehouse from memory.

He still claims that knowledge of Wodehouse was the single most important factor in the decision to hire copywriters until the mid-eighties, when Wodehouse began to fall out of fashion in the country (to some extent: as Tharoor mentions, he still has a major following).
posted by vanar sena at 2:51 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wodehouse is somewhat unusual in being more fun to re-read than to read --- one's mild apprehension over what will happen next distracts somewhat from watching the beautiful clockwork precision of his farces and dimishes one's attention to the beauty of his language. You wouldn't think a man could gin up a hundred-year career out of the high-low gag infinitely repeated, but then you don't have a miraculous ability to slice and dice the The Bard in with a potful of jazz age and public school slang and leave the reader feeling like a bomb has gone off in their bean.

Any for the n0obs --- whatever you do, stay away from Ukridge. He's on the advanced course. I'm a Jeesvian, and while I'd conceed that Code of the Woosters is possibly the better novel overall, I'd still plump for Right Ho, Jeeves as the first course since it contains Gussie Fink-Nottle's address to the Market Snodsbury Grammer School. Plus it comes before Code in the timeline.
posted by Diablevert at 2:52 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't know if this is in the generator but my favorite Wodehouse is description of a fascist:

About seven feet in height, and swathed in a plaid ulster which made him look about six feet across, he caught the eye and arrested it. It was as if Nature had intended to make a gorilla and had changed its mind at the last moment.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 2:53 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if it's pronounced WOOD-house or does it rhyme with 'roadhouse'?

A British professor friend has confirmed the WOOD-house pronunciation with me before.
posted by JHarris at 2:54 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd agree that The Code of the Woosters is an essential read (it's in my permanent collection), and a good starting point. Right Ho, Jeeves is another good one.

The Blandings Castle books will also knock your socks off. If you do not adore the Honorable Galahad Threepwood--well, you are not a person I imagine I'd like to know.

Then you can dabble with the Bertie and Jeeves short story collections a bit.

Once you are ready for a bit more sophistication, it's on to Psmith and Mr. Mulliner.

I will say that as someone who is not a golfer, that series is my least favorite. But as they are Wodehouse, they are still better stories than most.
posted by misha at 3:00 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always felt that Wodehouse was a stunt pilot for English grammar - taking sentences into radical corkscrews that ought to have resulted in tragic death spirals but which instead spun into swoops of triumphant aerobatics. The master.

Douglas Adams is equal parts Wodehouse and A.A. Milne.
posted by Grangousier at 3:06 PM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


while 1; do curl http://www.drones.com/pgw.cgi | grep -Pzo '(?s)<blockquote>.*</blockquote>' | sed -e 's/<[^>]*>//g'; sleep 15; done
posted by drfu at 3:10 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"His first emotion was one of surprise that so much human tonnage could have been assembled at one spot. A cannibal king, beholding them, would have whooped with joy and reached for his knife and fork with the feeling that for once, the catering department had not failed him. "
posted by batou_ at 3:11 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


"His manner was now meek and conciliatory, like that of a black-beetle which sees the cook reaching for the insect powder and does its best to show her that it fully realises that it has brought this on itself."

Wodehouse has gotten me through most of the tedious and miserable parts of my adult life, he's like a really fucking funny sherpa.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:19 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


`What a curse these social distinctions are. They ought to be abolished. I remmeber saying that to Karl Marx once, and he thought there might be an idea for a book in it.'
Quick Service (1940)

I mean, come on! Dryer than the Sahara.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:24 PM on May 24, 2012


"She looked like something that might have occured to Ibsen in one of his less frivolous moments."
Summer Lightning (1929)


Ok, lemme stop.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:30 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


besides being completely funny wodehouse was an amazingly good writer. not for a single second does he call attention to his technique, but it's there, holding everything up and making it all work. one of the best writers in english, ever.
posted by facetious at 3:47 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wodehouse has gotten me through most of the tedious and miserable parts of my adult life, he's like a really fucking funny sherpa.

Yes. And when I got to the end of the Paris Review interview posted upthread, this part:
INTERVIEWER

It sounds as if you’ve never had any worries at all.

WODEHOUSE

I’m rather blessed in a way. I really don’t worry about anything much. I can adjust myself to things pretty well.
I just wished I could hug him and say "thank you, thank you, thank you".
posted by junco at 4:01 PM on May 24, 2012


Oh, wow... from his Wikipedia page:
He was also profoundly uninterested in politics and world affairs. When World War II broke out in 1939 he remained at his seaside home in Le Touquet, France, instead of returning to England, apparently failing to recognise the seriousness of the conflict. It is also said that his wife couldn't bear to leave their dog, Wonder.[17] Subsequently the German military authorities in occupied France interned him (along with several other Englishmen in the same position) as an "enemy alien" according to the Geneva Convention. He was interned first in Belgium, then at Tost in Upper Silesia (now Toszek in Poland), of which he is recorded having said, "If this is Upper Silesia, one wonders what Lower Silesia must be like…"
You simply could not rattle this man!
posted by gilrain at 4:12 PM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you want to watch the Wodehouse world, Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is very very good.

I also watched a documentary on Wodehouse recently which is a passable backgrounder if you can handle Terry Wogan. And to feckless who wrote "I am jealous of people who haven't read Wodehouse yet and are about to," Stephen Fry says exactly that in the doco.
posted by meech at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I might have missed this - there were a few references to Psmith, but no one recommending the Psmith stories as a way in. I read Leave it to Psmith first, while I was working an overnight shift at a call-center sort of a place, and a) laughed embarrassingly loudly and bizarrely all the damn time, because the funny bits often took me by surprise and I would do the laughter equivalent of a simultaneous burp, cough, hiccup, and sneeze, and b) had to keep explaining what was so funny to people completely unprepared to find Wodehouse funny. They were so optimistic, though, and kept asking, sure that next time I could justify my behaviour.

I can't read Wodehouse out loud. It's fine for a while, then it comes out as in incoherent, squeaky mess punctuated by 'No, wait... wait...'
posted by magdalenstreetladies at 5:07 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


A gentleman spoke:
Wodehouse's best work was done before Toole was born.
Minority report, then: the later Jeeves novels have a lived-in warmth that the earlier, somewhat chillier books don't quite attain. Code of the Woosters is of course perfect, but I started with Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit and have never regretted it. Or have, and have forgotten.
posted by waxbanks at 5:53 PM on May 24, 2012


Oh and it should be said many many times: Wodehouse was the greatest pure comic writer in the language. Sorry Mr Wilde. Sorry Mr Joyce. Sorry Mr O'Brien.
posted by waxbanks at 5:55 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you want to watch the Wodehouse world, Jeeves and Wooster yt with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is very very good.

Oh Hi Doktor Hause! I thought you never solve this one!
posted by ovvl at 6:33 PM on May 24, 2012


If you want to watch the Wodehouse world, Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is very very good.

My recollection is that the series was pretty uneven -- Wodehouse is all about the prose, and the Jeeves cycle is told in the first person, from Bertie's standpoint, and without a lot of lame voiceovers there's only so much you can do -- *but*, having said that, Fry and Laurie are as close to perfection in the characters of Jeeves and Wooster (respectively) one could ever hope to see.
posted by uosuaq at 6:34 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh and it should be said many many times: Wodehouse was the greatest pure comic writer in the language. Sorry Mr Wilde. Sorry Mr Joyce. Sorry Mr O'Brien.

That's a fascinating observation. Wilde, Joyce and O'Brien were all self-consciously literary, whereas PGW never even displays the ghost of an ambition to be taken seriously by the literary establishment. His stuff is written purely to delight the reader. And yet he pulls off the most extraordinary literary calisthenics over and over again. And his worldview comes across with the most astounding consistency and clarity. There's not a cruel or inaccessible moment in any of his books. He writes about privilege, from a position of privilege, without ever raising your hackles. And despite his books being inseperably of-their-time, they haven't dated a minute. Amazing.
posted by unSane at 6:38 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


By Jove, fame! That's my little project, that I wrote about twenty years ago to learn CGI.

...but it bothers me that they're not using accurate quotes.

Blush! I'll just say that people send me their favourite quotes and I just add them to the list. Send me yours! Memail, or my mefi name at gmail.

Another excuse I can use is that US and UK publishers often make little edits to make it more palatable (they think) to the people on the other side of the pond. Lift vs. elevator and all that.

Anyone that liked Jeeves and Wooster (most die-hard fans don't, including me) be sure to investigate Wodehouse Playhouse. The latter is much more faithful to the words of The Master, and words are the important thing, not (the horror) slapstick -- Jeeves in drag, for chrissake!

I've been PGW-mad for some thirty years, and I too was unable to finish Confederacy of Dunces.
posted by phliar at 6:40 PM on May 24, 2012 [22 favorites]


There's not a cruel or inaccessible moment in any of his books.

I was talking to a friend and fellow fan about the Jeeves stories one day, and that was my observation: they're warm-hearted and kind, despite being about the sort of people you really want to kick in the shins.
posted by maxwelton at 6:49 PM on May 24, 2012


The timing of this is perfect for me....I, too, have never actually read any Woodhouse. I just bought a complete set of Playboy magazine from 1957 - 1997, and the early years are just jam-packed with his short stories and novellas. This post has convinced me I seriously need to dive in.
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2012


Oh thank you so much for this! Absolutely brilliant.
I enjoyed the Jeeves and Wooster series. I get the criticism of the show, but Laurie's hapless face squishiness and Fry's pronouncements from on high tickled me pink. I was also in it for the set design and location though.

I find Wodehouse a great go to read on long plane flights too.

i've read Confed of Dunces and it would not be on my list for plane flights.
posted by pymsical at 7:15 PM on May 24, 2012


I think the best incentive there could ever be to read Wodehouse is all the Mefites waxing lyrical about his prose abilities in this thread. "Literary calisthenics" indeed. Clearly Wodehouse and I are on an impending collision course of literary love.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:18 PM on May 24, 2012


By the way, this whole thing was Via.
posted by unSane at 7:19 PM on May 24, 2012


"Stout rustic bench" is the name of my next band.
posted by Zonker at 7:20 PM on May 24, 2012


"Stout rustic bench" is the name of my next band.

That'd be some variety of beardy-folk, then?
posted by acb at 7:23 PM on May 24, 2012


If you like Wodehouse, look up the BBC episodes with Michael Hordern as Jeeves and Richard Briers as Bertie. Some of them are being replayed on Radio 4 Extra on the BBC iPlayer site right now. Hordern puts more life into Jeeves' bits of dialogue like "Certainly, sir!" than you'd think possible. (I don't know exactly when they were recorded – Hordern died in 1995.)

Martin Jarvis also does some one-man Wodehouse readings that are great. His rendition of "Bertie Changes his Mind" is so good.
posted by zadcat at 7:54 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Jarvis stuff is really good -- that's what I grew up with in terms of reading.
posted by unSane at 8:20 PM on May 24, 2012


I think one of the happiest days of my book life was the day I picked up Leave It To Psmith and discovered it was Psmith at Blandings - my two favorite Wodehouse series in one book! Utterly delightful.

I like the Jeeves and Wooster series (I like to envision myself as a future nephew crusher), and the Americans-meet-the-British stories he wrote after he moved to Long Island (which I downloaded a free ebooks from Amazon), but I suspect that happiness is an amiable absent-minded peer and his pig.
posted by julen at 8:29 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


He makes you laugh, he makes you cry...


"And closing the door with the delicate caution of one brushing flies off a sleeping Venus, he passed out of my life."
posted by misha at 8:45 PM on May 24, 2012


"He was white and shaken, like a dry martini."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:02 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wodehouse, whom I adore, reminds me much of his comedic predecessor of a hundred years or more: Sydney Smith.

A classic Smith simile: "He struck me as much like a steam-engine in trousers" describing his friend Daniel Webster.
posted by NailsTheCat at 10:24 PM on May 24, 2012


Much as I like Fry and Laurie, I agree that Wodehouse Playhouse does it better. Fry and Laurie are unshakably Fry and Laurie, and make it harder to immerse oneself in the story.

Also, Wodehouse Playhouse has Pauline Colllins saying "...would view, haloo, purse the gnu ...", which seems to have stuck in my brain for some twenty-five years.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:00 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is wonderful, thank you for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:43 PM on May 24, 2012


Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove.

I may add that I have loved the word 'gruntled' for ages.
posted by Cranberry at 12:14 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just popped in to drop this off - from The Inimitable Jeeves. Jeeves tells Bertie that a man called Bassington-Bassington has called for him:

"I've never heard of him. Have you ever heard of him, Jeeves?"
"I am familiar with the name Bassington-Bassington, sir. There are three branches of the Bassington-Bassington family - the Shropshire Bassington-Bassingtons, the Hampshire Bassington-Bassingtons, and the Kent Bassington-Bassingtons."
"England seems pretty well stocked up with Bassington-Bassingtons."
"Tolerably so, sir."
"No chance of a sudden shortage, I mean, what?"

posted by DanCall at 1:28 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


All hail unSane for sharing, and thanks to all who shared PGW material I never knew about before.

When you have just been told that the girl you love is definitely betrothed to another, you begin to understand what anarchists feel when the bomb goes off too soon.
posted by milnews.ca at 7:18 AM on May 25, 2012


If you want to watch the Wodehouse world, Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is very very good.

Far be it from me to disparage anything involving those two masters of comic acting, but while I enjoyed watching it, like others here I don't think it was an especially good representation of Wodehouse. One of the things I deeply regret about the twenty-first century is that it has failed (so far as I can tell) to preserve anything but the opening titles of The World of Wooster (1965–1967), the BBC show that introduced me to Wodehouse when I was but a wee, ignorant American high school student. (I discovered Saki at the same time, and on the off chance some of you PG-lovers aren't familiar with him, I urge you to take the plunge; it will not be regretted.)

Minority report, then: the later Jeeves novels have a lived-in warmth that the earlier, somewhat chillier books don't quite attain.

Far be it from me to disparage anything written by PGW! I certainly didn't mean to imply that the later work was not worth reading (I can barely type the blasphemous phrase); I enjoy it greatly myself. But I think it is generally agreed that the early work is, as you say, perfect, and it is hard to top perfection.
posted by languagehat at 7:52 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Beware the wrath of SREDNI VASHTAR.
posted by JHarris at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> ... the opening titles of The World of Wooster ...

Ian Carmichael as Bertie Wooster!? Perfect!
posted by benito.strauss at 11:10 AM on May 25, 2012


Thank you. This is wonderful.

It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 11:57 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the things I deeply regret about the twenty-first century is that it has failed (so far as I can tell) to preserve anything but the opening titles of The World of Wooster

languagehat, the first episode of series 2, "Jeeves and the Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace", does exist, and I've also found references (e.g.) to an extant portion of a second.
posted by junco at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2012


Huh. I wonder if I'll ever get to see it? I also am not sure (now that it seems like it might be possible) whether I actually want to; I dread being disappointed by what I liked so much when I was fourteen. But thanks!
posted by languagehat at 2:38 PM on May 25, 2012


Far be it from me to disparage anything involving those two masters of comic acting, but while I enjoyed watching it, like others here I don't think it was an especially good representation of Wodehouse.

Neither do I, even though I am a big fan of both Fry and Laurie. They are merely excellent at playing comedy while PGW, as noted above, was greater at writing comedy than basically everybody. It cries out to be read and, as Diablevert noted, reread.

When I got my ereader last winter I immediately (thanks to Project Gutenberg) read 7 of his first 8 books (from 1902-1907), the 'public school' stories which I had never seen in the print in the U.S. They are usually scorned by connoisseurs when compared to his later, adult works, but a) to me, even lesser PGW is worth reading, and b) now I have finished all 96 volumes published during his lifetime. Obviously the Jeeves and Blandings Castle books would be a good place to start for beginners; for some reason I remember Hot Water as a particular favorite among the stand-alone novels.

p.s. languagehat has come by here several times but as yet has failed to mention his excellent PGW post from three years ago, which may aid newcomers to the canon.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:44 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alas, all the links are dead.
posted by languagehat at 7:29 AM on May 26, 2012


Alas, all the links are dead.

Oops. I should have thought of testing them. Meanwhile, the PGW quote generator has given my sister this: "The shock to Colonel Wedge of finding that what he had taken for a pile of old clothes was alive and a relation by marriage caused him to speak a little sharply."
posted by LeLiLo at 12:57 PM on May 26, 2012


Meanwhile, over in the British pinata thread:

Nanojath: I guess the downside is that using it involves beating a police officer's head in effigy.

You could make a policeman's hat for the kids hitting the pinata instead, to avoid that moral quandary. Make the pinata stick look light a nighstick, too.

This reminds me of Bertie Wooster and how he was always nicking policemens' hats. Now I want to have an adults' P. G. Wodehouse themed party! With a scavenger hunt and miniature London-themed things to find!

Or just Wodehousey things: miniature pig, cow creamer. Maybe full-size umbrella, photo with a swan. Losing team plays Jeeves (or Beach)and has to serve the winning team plates of party food. Aw, man, that would make for a great Olympics Opening Ceremonies party!
posted by misha at 9:47 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


And this quote popped upjust at the opportune moment, after I posted the above:


"What with excellent browsing and sluicing and cheery conversation and what-not the afternoon passed quite happily."

My Man Jeeves (1919) ``Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest''
posted by misha at 9:48 AM on May 30, 2012


I am jealous of people who haven't read Wodehouse yet and are about to.

This is the recommendation that finally got me to get up off my ass and read some Wodehouse. Turns out that all these years that I've been reacting to the idea with mild distaste, it's because I somehow got him crosslinked with P. J. O'Rourke. I just spent an hour giggling helplessly while reading in bed next to my husband, who is reading Game of Thrones. Thank you so much for bringing the shove to the push.
posted by KathrynT at 10:46 PM on June 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now if someone could rewrite Game of Thrones as PGW would have written it.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:56 AM on June 10, 2012


Now if someone could rewrite Game of Thrones as PGW would have written it.

Somehow, I feel like this is a job for The Whelk.
posted by KathrynT at 11:11 AM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


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