Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whence Wodehouse?

Book/Daddy offers a recent roundup of interesting miscellany, of which my favorite is this article from the Telegraph about A Wodehouse Handbook: The World and Words of P. G. Wodehouse by N.P.T. Murphy.

The book, according to reviewer David Twiston-Davies, whose own moniker is just one syllable short of Wodehousean, lays open Wodehouse's hard-edged realism (or is it naturalism?) The great humorist, Col. Murphy reveals, based his country-house settings and many of his characters not on fantasy but on experience. Volume two of the handbook, according to Twiston-Davies,

"explains for the new ignorant masses the references to the Bible and Shakespeare, translates arbiter elegantiarum and identifies Ouida and Death Valley Scotty. This may be a good idea, but it threatens the creation of a university course with the dread title 'Wodehouse Studies'."
Why should this interest crime-fiction readers? First because Wodehouse was so brilliant a humorist, but also because he had a special affection for crime stories. In fact, I'll be eager to see if Col. Murphy tracks down a real-life model for the delightfully titled Strychnine in the Soup.

Two mystery bookstores where I have shopped also offer sizable selections of Wodehouse, so mystery readers appear to like Wodehouse as much as Wodehouse liked mysteries.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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Blogger Linkmeister said...

It seems entirely possible to me that the inventor of Clue was a Wodehouse fan. Butlers, Colonels, libraries...

January 18, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It could be. I seem to recall that the characters in Clue were drawn rather whimsically. But Wodehouse ... what a genius. What a composer of sentences funny for their manner and not just their matter. I think this Wodehouse reference work will be worth looking for.

Incidentally, I was introduced to Wodehouse by an aunt. That act of benevolence on her part makes her far closer to Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia than to his Aunt Agatha.

January 18, 2008  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

P.G.Wodehouse was another author educated at Dulwich College.
I should have saved that for a future quiz.

January 18, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I was given a biography of Wodehouse a couple of years ago for Christmas. I recommend it.

My uncle the AP Phoenix bureau guy introduced me to Jeeves and Bertie when I was in college. I've been a fan ever since.

January 18, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A bit of slyness should enable you to get P.G. Wodehouse into a future quiz.

I am leery of reading about Wodehouse for the same reason the reviewer hesitates about Volume II of that handbook. I would not want to be complicit in creating Wodehouse studies! I suspect I will take the plunge one day, though.

January 18, 2008  

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