The Code of the Woosters - P.G. Wodehouse

I've been seeing this pop up on my feed and it looks like fun, so here goes!

 

So far, I've seen a bunch of mentions of Hyperbole and a Half (always fantastic), plus a few of Terry Pratchett (also at the top of my list), but P. G. Wodehouse has been conspicuous only by his absence.

 

Wodehouse has always been my go-to-guy for utterly fluffy laugh-out-loud absurdism. He is best known for the adventures of the the hapless and hare-brained Bertie Wooster before he eventually gets his superbrained and exceedingly proper valet Jeeves to assist. (Yes, if you're old enough to remember it, the "Ask Jeeves" search engine was indeed named after him.) All of Bertie's stories have a similar setup--Bertie is an idiot, Bertie defies Jeeves, Bertie gets into tremendous trouble that usually involves an engagement to a rather formidable girl, Jeeves rescues him in the nick of time--but the details themselves are endlessly entertaining. A few of my favourite Wodehousian quotes:

 

"Everything is relative. You, for instance, are my relative."

“The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number.” 

“I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.” 

"You can't be a successful dictator and design women's underclothing. One or the other. Not both."

"As a rule, you see, I'm not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps and Uncle James's letter about Cousin Mabel's peculiar behaviour is being shot round the family circle ('Please read this carefully and send it on Jane') the clan has a tendency to ignore me. It's one of the advantages I get from being a bachelor - and, according to my nearest and dearest, practically a half-witted bachelor at that."

"It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't."

 

And then there's my favourite description of Bertie:

“[Aunt Dahlia to Bertie Wooster] 'To look at you, one would think you were just an ordinary sort of amiable idiot--certifiable, perhaps, but quite harmless. Yet, in reality, you are worse a scourge than the Black Death. I tell you, Bertie, when I contemplate you I seem to come up against all the underlying sorrow and horror of life with such a thud that I feel as if I had walked into a lamp post. I thought as much. Well, it needed but this. I don't see how things could possibly be worse than they are, but no doubt you will succeed in making them so. Your genius and insight will find the way. Carry on, Bertie. Yes, carry on. I am past caring now. I shall even find a faint interest in seeing into what darker and profounder abysses of hell you can plunge this home. Go to it, lad..I remember years ago, when you were in your cradle, being left alone with you one day and you nearly swallowed your rubber comforter and started turning purple. And I, ass that I was, took it out and saved your life. Let me tell you, young Bertie, it will go very hard with you if you ever swallow a rubber comforter again when only I am by to aid.”

 

I had a certain amount of difficulty choosing only one book--after all, how does one choose between the adventure of the nervy nerve-specialist, the prize-giving at the Market Snodsbury Grammar School, the vacillations of the newt-collecting "gawd-help-us" Gussie Fink Nottle, the phalanx of formidable aunts, or the policeman-nipping dog Bartholomew? Rather flummoxed, I plumped for the book that contains the adventure of the silver cow creamer and quite a lot besides, but Right Ho, Jeeves probably comes at a close second.

 

And I haven't even mentioned the Blandings series or the insane ramblings of Lord Ickenham...so many books, so little time.

 

They made a rather fantastic miniseries of the books, starring Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry as Jeeves.  Here's a clip.