Book Review: The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves #2) by P. G. Wodehouse (Three Stars)
“Jeeves is a master mind and all that, but, dash it, a fellow must call his soul his own. You can’t be a serf to your valet.”
Tales of the idle rich told with tongue firmly in cheek. British humor is, I am told, lost on the colonials. These tales support that theory. Without a thorough grounding in class distinction and idle riches, and gentleman’s gentleman much of the humor is lost on us Yanks.
‘Bit of a snob, what?’ ‘He is somewhat acutely alive to the existence of class distinction, sir’
Having seen neither Jeeves and Wooster nor By Jeeves, I am free of the taint of interpreting the books through the eyes of others. I have no trouble imaging Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie butchering their roles, and I mean that in the kindest possible way.
‘A dashed pretty and lively and attractive girl, mind you, but full of ideals and all that. I may be wronging her, but I have an idea that she’s the sort of girl who would want a fellow to carve out a career and what not. I know I’ve heard her speak favourably of Napoleon. I think she’s a topper, and she thinks me next door to a looney, so everything’s nice and matey.’
Quaint, in the worst sense of that word. Hopelessly dated. Don’t waste your time. It stems from a time when upper-class London was thought to be all the best of English culture, just as we used to believe New York City the best of American culture.
‘Burnish the old brain and be alert and vigilant. I suspect that Mr Little will be calling round shortly for sympathy and assistance.’
‘Is Mr Little in trouble, sir?’
‘Well, you might call it that. He’s in love. For about the fifty-third time. I ask you, Jeeves, as man to man, did you ever see such a chap?’
‘Mr Little is certainly warm-hearted, sir.’
‘Warm-hearted! I should think he has to wear asbestos vests.’
An acquired taste. I think I enjoyed one of the Bernie Wooster novels when I was young enough to not question what I didn’t understand, but it’s too much of an effort now, and I don’t have the appropriate background. And yet I have no trouble with Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels.
Agree. Lord Peter Wimsey, while drawn from the same strata, seems more believable and more sympathetic. Undoubtedly better writing. Less slapstick.
Much less slapstick, but Sayers did an awful lot of the attempt to render various speech patterns – and the villages were full of stereotypes. I don’t care. The love story buried in those four books and a three short stories is one of my favorites – a man and a woman learning to be present to each other with integrity and growth.