Monday, April 27, 2015

Wodehouse, the Funny man!





I must have been all of nine when my grandfather and I went to visit a friend of his, a spirited young gentleman of about 80, who had recently been spending much of his time in bed as he was a trifle unwell. I remember being entranced by the way he spoke, and in the quaint phrases that he used in the Queen's English. When we finally got up to go, and said Goodbye, the gentleman smiled and said, "This reminds me of something that PG Wodehouse once said. 'He came in and went out so soon that he almost met himself coming in!' I say, do you really have to leave?"
 PG Wodehouse had had such a major influence on the gentleman, and I went home, determined to delve into the works of this writer who could actually influence the way people thought and spoke! And believe me, I was not disappointed!





Think Wodehouse and an involuntary smile appears on your face. It does on mine, in any case! Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was born in the Victorian era, but there was nothing Victorian about the sheer joie de vivre that he exhibited in many of his books, especially in the Jeeves and Bertie Wooster series, where he displayed total irreverence and amazing comic timing, writing simple, funny stories that tickled the funny bone.


"I just sit at my typewriter and curse a bit."

P.G. Wodehouse


Novels, plays, short stories, magazine pieces and lyrics of songs - he tried his hand at every one of them, and successfully too. He was a keen observer of life and he was often inspired by real life people whom he put into his books. His aunts provided fodder for most of Bertie Wooster's aunts - the martinet Lady Agatha, the delightful Aunt Dahlia and the well meaning Lady Constance Keeble.

"This was not aunt Dahlia, my good and kindly aunt, but my aunt Agatha, the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth."




Plum, as he was called by friends, had a style of writing all his own. he did not shy away from slang and abbreviations, and he put them in the mouth of Bertie Wooster, whose level of intelligence was nothing to write home about. Luckily, Jeeves, his Man Friday, had a giant brain which worked overtime, trying to keep the young master out of scrapes. 




Wodehouse peppers his books with uniquely interesting characters, and his titles are highly amusing as well - Barmy in Wonderland, Aunts aren't Gentlemen, Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, Performing Flea, The Little Nugget, Pigs Can't Fly, Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, The Heart of a Goof, A Damsel in Distress, and the like. His characters were always getting into trouble or falling in love, and his plots revolved around solving small domestic problems involving obdurate aunts, timid uncles, girls with iron wills,  a variety of suitors, spoilt nephews and weak minded young men. 





I would like to share a number of quotes that left me in splits. These are the reason Plum continues to be my favourite writer. In each of these quotes, there is a tiny bite that brings a twinkle in the eye, and proves why PG Wodehouse is the writer you would go to if you wanted a pick me up in life! And these, believe me, are just the tip of the iceberg.

“As for Gussie Finknottle, many an experienced undertaker would have been deceived by his appearance and started embalming on sight.”  



“Love is a delicate plant that needs constant tending and nurturing, and this cannot be done by snorting at the adored object like a gas explosion and calling her friends lice.” 

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit



“She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season.” 

Carry On, Jeeves




“He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.” 

“He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.” 





“It was a nasty look. It made me feel as if I were something the dog had brought in and intended to bury later on, when he had time.” 

My Man Jeeves

“And so the merry party began. It was one of those jolly, happy, bread-crumbling parties where you cough twice before you speak, and then decide not to say it after all.” 

My Man Jeeves



“There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.” 

“She looked away. Her attitude seemed to suggest that she had finished with him, and would be obliged if somebody would come and sweep him up.” 

“Some minds are like soup in a poor restaurant—better left unstirred.” 

And finally, a quote on India!

“[He] saw that a peculiar expression had come into his nephew's face; an expression a little like that of a young hindu fakir who having settled himself on his first bed of spikes is beginning to wish that he had chosen one of the easier religions.” 




12 comments:

  1. What a delightful read!! and what witty lines!! Yea..his name brings an instant smile to your face....it is so much reminiscent of my childhood, the years I have spent tucked into a warm Wodehouse read!
    my fav is "He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more".

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    1. Thanks so much, little princess! I have also spent hours, tucked into a warm Wodehouse read. I adore the simplicity of his plots and the stylishness of his writing! :) Most of the above quotes are loved ones, and there are so many more I wish I could have added! :)

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  2. Thank you for reminding of the wonderful P G Wodehouse books that I read as a teenager. I loved it and his subtle comic sense was impeccable.

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    1. Prasanna, I think all of us must have gone through the Wodehouse stage when all we wanted to do was sit down with one of his wonderful books... and laugh! :)

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  3. LOL the quotes :)
    I was introduced to PG Wodehouse when I was doing my PUC. Somehow couldn't appreciate the humour then. But recently have started reading his books and loving it

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    1. Sundari, I have many friends who have said this to me, that they could not appreciate his humour earlier. But most of them gave the books a second chance, like you did, and fell in love! :)

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  4. I will be forever grateful to my English teacher for introducing me to Wodehouse. His humour is simply inimitable and so full of wit. Your post is a wonderful tribute to one of the greats!

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    1. Thank you so much, Devika! He is one of the greats, isn't he? And I could write reams on him... and his amazingly funny quotes and situations! :)

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  5. Wodehouse is every avid reader's pleasure.loved your post, brought back many memories. read my #atozchallenge posts at my blog http://www.poojasharmarao.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much, Pooja! Wodehouse will always remain a favourite of mine! Thanks for the link... will go through your posts! :) God bless!

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  6. I absolutely love his humour :D Enjoyed reading the lines you shared :D that reminds me, I need to read more of his works.

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  7. Rajlakshmi, I absolutely adore his writing! Thank you so much! And happy reading!

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