Джийвс запретва ръкави P.G. Wodehouse


Published: 1998


223 pages


Джийвс запретва ръкави  by  P.G. Wodehouse

Джийвс запретва ръкави by P.G. Wodehouse
1998 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, audiobook, mp3, RTF | 223 pages | ISBN: | 10.52 Mb

This book did genuinely surprise me, as – despite what I thought – I had read it already. I told myself I’d missed out on ‘Ring for Jeeves’, the sole Jeeves novel without Bertie Wooster, as a Jeeves novel without Bertie Wooster just seemed to me unspeakably strange. However, despite my professed ignorance, on turning the pages I found it all came back to me. Clearly I had read ‘Ring For Jeeves’ before, then equally clearly I had blocked the whole experience from my mind. As this really is not a good book.

It’s that very rare thing: a feeble and uninspired Wodehouse . Even though there are a few quality jokes, the whole thing never struggles above sub-par. Written in the third person, ‘Ring for Jeeves’ is crying out desperately for the zip and whizz of Bertie Wooster’s prose style. Based on a stage show (also written by Wodehouse), the book feels horribly like the prose adaptation of a stage show.

It is flat and workmanlike, with the action seeming particularly flat especially when it rarely leaves the same couple of rooms. The floating narration even allows us a few peeks into Jeeves’s marvellous mind and what’s disturbing is how utterly prosaic these glimpses are.

Surely a P.G. on form would know that to reveal the inner workings of such a marvellous machine was bound to be a mistake.Written in 1952/1953, and set in the 1950s, this is Wodehouse dealing with post-War Britain. Post-War Britain is of course a place Wodehouse himself never visited, and it makes a decidedly odd target for him. Far from the idle rich and stately pads of his earlier books, we have, thanks to encroaching socialism, an impoverished aristocracy and a genteel ruin. At one point, Jeeves even says he will work for nothing, which is a fine set of affairs for such a brilliant butler.

Furthermore we have a bluff old white hunter who seems like the worst caricature of a sun-burnt colonial, written at the exact time the colonies were falling away. Undoubtedly this character has a heart of gold, but one doesn’t have much faith in his ability to do anything of use, only hunt exotic species and get drunk in the sunlight.

It really seems as if Wodehouse is saying that Malaysia, and other such places, would be in a far better state without these particular blots on the landscape. The times are moving on from beneath Wodehouse and he is trying to adapt to them, but I’m not sure that a light romantic comedy of the upper classes is the best mode with which to do that. Nor, if we’re honest, is P.G. Wodehouse – a man, lest we forget, with so little understanding of politics he let himself get trapped in Wartime France – the best writer to handle this. Obviously he can see that the world is changing, but equally obviously he has very little idea how to engage with it and so I can’t help thinking it would be better if he didn’t try.Early in the book Jeeves is asked to predict the winner of The Derby, and says that the 1925 winner is one to watch.

This is a novel that’s actually stated to take place in the 1950s and so surely this horse – even with the most charitable view – is going to be about twenty years past its prime, and would be a hugely unlikely recommendation for someone who supposedly knows so much about the turf. But then I suppose Jeeves, much like Wodehouse himself, would really just like to be back in The Twenties where things were so much simpler.

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