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This blog contains the literature reviews, political rants, and literary doings of Steven Wittenberg Gordon, the Editor of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Review of "Very Good, Jeeves!" by P. G. Wodehouse

Very Good, Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse (1881 - 1975) was first published by Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England in 1930.  I finally came around to reading it in an omnibus volume entitled Life with Jeeves, which was published by Penguin Books in 1981, one century after the year of Wodehouse's birth.  Included in the omnibus are The Inimitable Jeeves, which I finished reading about a month ago and have not reviewed, and Right Ho, Jeeves, which I am looking forward to reading in the coming weeks.

When I was in the Air Force from 2000 to 2005, I kept the unread omnibus in my "mobag" (ready-to-go-ready-for-anything-prepacked-deployment-bag) as an "emergency" book.  I chose it for that important purpose for several reasons:  I was already familiar with P. G. Wodehouse's characters through the Jeeves and Wooster television series from the early 1990's; the work is divided into a series of connected short stories, perfect for reading in snippets and in less than ideal conditions, such as the jump seat of a C-17; and, most importantly, it is a work of humor and frivolity, which might serve as a morale boost.  I recently dusted off and redeployed the tome for a little pick-me-up pleasure during my mandatory, unpaid, half-hour breaks from work at the Maximum Security Clinic of the Lansing Correctional Facility.

The stories in Very Good, Jeeves! are similar to the stories in The Inimitable Jeeves and, I predict, in Right Ho, Jeeves.  The plot of each story is based upon the following winning formula:

1. A friend or relative of Wooster's needs help for some minor difficulty.
2. The bumbling but good-hearted Wooster gets suckered into helping, being unable to resist a friend in need.
3. Wooster calls upon his manservant, the wise Jeeves for help.
4. Jeeves feigns disinterest owing to some natty part of the young master's wardrobe which, in his opinion, does not suit the master and thereby reflects badly upon the manservant.
5. Wooster puts his feeble mental powers to the task with disastrous results, inevitably winding up "in the soup."
6. Working behind the scenes, Jeeves saves the day.
7. Wooster is so grateful to and impressed by Jeeves' genius that he gives up the offensive wardrobe item as a sort of reward.
8. Jeeves indicates that he had already disposed of the malign accoutrement.

Leaving the silly story plots aside, the language employed by Wodehouse is delightful by itself.  Jeeves speaks in the calm, crisp manner of the British upper class--in a reserved tone, with classic British understatement, scrupulous politeness, and impeccable grammar.  Bertram Wooster speaks in a similar manner, but Wodehouse sprinkles the speech of his hapless hero with a whimsical British slang of sorts, which I find hilariously funny.  So, pip pip!  I'm off to the Drones Club for another fruity binge.  I say, what?


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