Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A grammatical error, or P.G. Wodehouse on American politics

"If Mr. Wilberfloss had been a politician, he would have been one of those dealers in glittering generalities who used to be fashionable in American politics."
P.G. Wodehouse, Psmith, Journalist (1915)
First edition, A&C Black, 1915
What did he mean "used to be" fashionable in American politics? I've generally found Wodehouse's American stories less satisfactory than his English ones, but I like this take on American politicians, even if he puts it in the past rather than the present (or future) tense.

And the following, from the novel's preface, ought to tantalize fans of crime fiction that crosses borders:
"There are several million inhabitants of New York. Not all of them eke out a precarious livelihood by murdering one another, but there is a definite section of the population which murders—not casually, on the spur of the moment, but on definitely commercial lines at so many dollars per murder. The `gangs' of New York exist in fact. I have not invented them. Most of the incidents in this story are based on actual happenings."
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

Labels: , , ,

10 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Isnt that the one with the immortal line "Cozy Moments Will Not Be Silenced"?

I quite enjoyed the Psmith stories, not quite up there with Wooster or Blandings but still thats high praise indeed...

January 25, 2013  
Blogger Gavin said...

Yes, that's the one.

I somehow like it less each time I re-read it, which is odd for me and Wodehouse; I like most of them more each time I re-read.

January 25, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're both right. That is, indeed, the Cozy Moments story, which I ought to enjoy given my profession.

I have not got far with previous efforts to read Psmith. My favorite Woedehouses have been the Bertie & Jeeves stories along with the Mulliners and Oldest Members,

January 25, 2013  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

It might just be pure coincidence but seconds before looking to see what you'd been writing about recently, Peter, I'd been checking into online reviews of my Amazon DVD pre-order, famous for the narration
"There are eight million stories in the Naked City"

January 25, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know how many millions of stories there were in New York when Wodehouse published the novel in book form in 1915 or as a serial a few years before. Several, I presume.

January 25, 2013  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Now that you've read Psmith, Journalist you should read Evelyn Waugh's Scoop next if you haven't already done so. I think you may like it a little better...

January 26, 2013  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

You could try Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, you may like it a little better than Psmith, Journalist...

January 26, 2013  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Probably not as many as there were by the time 'The Naked City' rolled around
(always assuming New Yorkers' capacity for storytelling, or their capacity for doing something interesting, hadn't changed appreciably in the intervening 45 or so years)

PS: These numbers in the 'verifiers' really intrigue me. The kind of thing people take photos of, eh?
There's nowt as queer as folk, indeed!

January 26, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I have a copy of Scoop lying around somewhere from a Waugh spree I went on years. Maybe I'll dig it out, perhaps as a kind of decompression treatment as I distance myself gradually from my gangrenous profession.

January 26, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK: Manhattan's population had hit 2.3 million by 1910, according to a source I just consulted, so Wodehouse was on safe ground.

January 26, 2013  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home