Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Rummy Good Time, Indeed

Title: Carry On, Jeeves
Author: P.G. Wodehouse

Now, touching this business of old Jeeves – my man, you know – how do we stand? Lots of people think I’m much too dependent on him. My Aunt Agatha, in fact, has even gone so far as to call him my keeper. Well, what I say is: Why not? The man’s a genius. From the collar upward he stand alone, I gave up trying to run my own affairs within a week of his coming to me. That was about half a dozen years ago, directly after the rather rummy business of Florence Craye, my Uncle Willoughby’s book, and Edwin, the Boy Scout.

The hapless and idly rich Bertie Wooster is suffering from a diabolical hangover when his doorbell rings. A man named Jeeves stands outside, claiming he’s been sent by the agency to serve as Bertie’s new valet. Without waiting for orders, he glides insides, flickers about here and there, and promptly produces a magic elixir (containing Worcester sauce, raw egg, and red pepper). Bertie chugs it down in a desperate hope. Presto-chango, hangover cured! Jeeves is hired on the spot. It was a meeting of Destiny.

Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse’s most famous creation, is the epitome of the discrete, all-knowing British butler, the mold after which specimens such as Bunter and Alfred are cast. Time after time, he preserves his young master from disaster, and, on certain occasions, a fate worse than death -- that is, marriage with Honoria Glossop.

Carry On, Jeeves is actually a collection of short stories, narrated by Bertie, each detailing a particular scrape from which Jeeves saves his helpless employer. It’s comedic fluff of the highest order, and the language and British slang – well, you have to read it to believe it. It’s to die for. Here are some examples:

At this point, when everything was going as sweet as a nut and I was feeling on top of my form, Mrs Pringle suddenly socked me on the base of the skull with a sandbag.

You see, I had decided – rightly or wrongly – to grow a moustache, and this had cut Jeeves to the quick. He couldn’t stick the thing at any price, and I had been living ever since in an atmosphere of bally disapproval till I was getting jolly well fed up with it.

This was news to me, that Bicky’s uncle was a duke. Rum, how little one knows about one’s pals. I had met Bicky for the first time at a species of beano or jamboree down in Washington Square. He was a frightful chump, so we naturally drifted together, and while we were taking a quiet snort in a corner that wasn’t all cluttered up with artists and sculptors, he furthermore endeared himself to me by a most extraordinarily gifted imitation of a bull terrier chasing a cat up a tree.

As you can see, Bertie isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Jeeves has his hands full. It's great.

So read it, and after you do, watch the British television series starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. If nothing else, you’ll be amazed that Laurie (currently famous as television’s “House”) can be so adept at playing the complete buffoon. Honestly, all the guy has to do is twitch an eyebrow to make me laugh.

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posted by Elizabeth at 8:27 PM


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