And set on the road of no return–the road leading to Bertie and Jeeves and Blandings Castle and numerous other miscellaneous places of good cheer. Since ten years is a bit of a celebration, it seems like an excellent time for a review of the book that began it all!
Let us start off with a quote: “The shades of evening were beginning to fall pretty freely by now, but the visibility was still good enough to enable me to observe that up the road there was approaching a large, stout, moon-faced policeman on a bicycle… And where the drama came in was that it was patent that his attention had not yet been drawn to the fact that he was being chivvied–in the strong, silent, earnest manner characteristic of this breed of animal–by a fine Aberdeen terrier. There he was, riding comfortably along, sniffing the fragrant evening breeze; and there was the Scottie, all whiskers and eyebrows, haring after him hell-for-leather. As Jeeves said later, when I described the scene to him, the whole situation resembled some great moment in a Greek tragedy, where somebody is stepping high, wide and handsome, quite unconscious that all the while Nemesis is at his heels… One moment he (the officer) was with us, all merry and bright; the next, he was in the ditch, a sort of macédoine of arms and legs and wheels, with the terrier standing on the edge, looking down at him with that rather offensive expression of virtuous smugness which I have often noticed on the faces of Aberdeen terriers in their clashes with humanity.”
Wodehouse: action, rich language, delightful humor. As a side note, I tend to think of Wodehouse and Chesterton together as I first met them within months of each other and as (though unlike in other ways) they both have a unique hilarity of tone and their characters have a similar penchant for rushing about. Both make wonderful reading between stacks of other thick, massive, mind-broadening books.
Wodehouse particularly is unsurpassed for clearing out cobwebs and The Code of the Woosters is Wodehouse at his supreme best: tight intricacies of plot, sparkling dialogue, hilarious allusions, and delightful characterizations. I would recommend it as an excellent introduction and altogether delightful even if you’re already familiar with him. (Suggestion: save it for a cloudy day as it’s nearly impossible to get through without laughing.)
Quotes and Lines:
‘Stiffy’s map, as a rule, tends to be rather grave and dreamy, giving the impression that she is thinking deep, beautiful thoughts. Quite misleading, of course.’
‘His whole demeanour was that of a man vividly conscious of being just about half a jump ahead of Roderick Spode. The hair was ruffled, the eyes wild, the nose twitching. A rabbit pursued by a weasel would have looked just the same–allowing, of course, for the fact that it would not have been wearing tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles.’
‘Presently I was aware that Jeeves was with me. I hadn’t heard him come in, but you don’t often with Jeeves. He just streams silently from Spot A to Spot B like some gas.’
‘The first impression I received on giving the apartment the once-over was that for a young shrimp of her shaky moral outlook Stiffy had been done pretty well in the matter of sleeping accommodation. Totleigh Towers was one of those country houses which had been built at a time when people planning a little nest had the idea that a bedroom was not a bedroom unless you could give an informal dance for about fifty couples in it…(the) thing seemed to stretch for miles in every direction.’
“There is no reason to suppose–one has to face this, too–that their union will not be blessed. There will, that is to say, ere long be little feet pattering about the home. And what one asks oneself is, just how safe will human life be in the vicinity of those feet… It is with a sort of tender pity, Jeeves, that I think of the nurses, the governesses, the private-school masters and the public-school masters who will lightly take on the responsibility of looking after a blend of Stephanie Byng and Harold Pinker, little knowing that they are coming up against something hotter than mustard.”
~ ~ ~
Good, yes? Delightfully amusing, yes? Now, to start the next year off well–and continuing the celebration–I shall probably hunt up his Indiscretions of Archie. It’s long due for a reread. :-)
And thank you all for joining me here on this epic occasion! Pip-pip, cheerio!