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02/15/2015

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Well, I'm smiling now.

Did you take that last picture? You should do a Google image search on it so you can see the "visually similar images."

AMDG

Yes, that's my Wodehouse collection. We recently acquired another couple of bookshelves and for the time being there's a fair amount of free space. The books that look very similar in that picture are part of a complete edition published by The Overlook Press. They're *really* nice hardbacks, the kind of book it's a pleasure to hold and read. I've been getting two or three a year for Christmas for several years now.

I'm not sure what you mean about "visually similar images"--is that a Google feature? But I see somebody named Rod Collins has a very nice Wodehouse shelf.

You can right-click on the picture and then click on "Search Google for this image" in the drop-down box. It will take you to a page that shows you any other occurrence of the image on the web, and below there are images that Google "thinks" are similar to your image. Sometimes it's really funny. In this case, it's moderately funny.

AMDG

Excellent!

I still think wode instead of wood, although I try to remember to say wood so people won't think I'm ignorant.

that made Wodehouse call one of his two most famous characters “Wooster” rather than “Worcester.”

Yes, but then there's worcester sauce in the hangover remedy to confuse us.

I have read some of Wodehouse's books, but I really love to listen to Hugh Laurie reading them. They are perfect for long car trips. When I read, I hear the words in Laurie's voice. Rather paradoxical that someone who has been so depressed brings everyone else so much joy.

I remember that in the most depressed period of my life, the only thing I could stand to read was the All Creatures Great and Small Series, probably because they have episodes that make one laugh out loud.

Those books look really nice. I went and looked at the Overlook Press website. That was probably a big mistake. I'm supposed to be divesting myself of books, not buying $40 editions of Dickens novels.

AMDG

Ha! yes, that "similar images" thing is funny. Also a bit annoying. :-)

I can well imagine that Laurie would do a great job reading Wodehouse. Do you mean Laurie is/was depressed, or Wodehouse? So far in the bio there's been no particular depression in evidence. But I'm only up to 1920 or so.

Glad you liked it, Rob.

Laurie.

AMDG

Laurie and Frye and my favorite Wooster and Jeeves bit.

"Ho-dee-Ho-dee-Ho-dee-Ho, sir." "You know, it shows the proper feudal spirit and all that..."

Laurie is actually playing the piano. My son has a CD of Laurie and his band doing a bunch of old blues songs.

I'm with Janet -- just reading this review made me smile.

Love this: "She was a girl with a wonderful profile, but steeped to the gills in serious purpose.” And this on Nietzsche is really all one needs to say about him: "You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound.”

It is hard to see how stuff like "steeped to the gills in serious purpose" translates into other languages. But then I've often wondered the same about Shakespeare and he's read and performed everywhere, in every language.

Wode a twain actually made me laugh.

AMDG

I confess that it did me, too.

I think I actually had a blog post some years back that consisted entirely or almost entirely of that Nietzsche quote. Later in the same book Bertie says that "Florence is one of those girls who look on modern enlightened thought as a sort of personal buddy, and receive with an ill grace cracks at its expense." That was a blog post, too, I think. At any rate she is certainly very much with us still.

There's evidence that Laurie would rather be a musician. He did a PBS show a while back in which he travelled to New Orleans and did a blues/jazz concert. He's good, though better as an actor. Let's see...here it is. Naturally at least some of it is available on YouTube.

Lovely! Lovely!

I might have to prescribe Wodehouse as our household's general anti-depressant!

Good reading, Mac! As I have told you, I have never read any Wodehouse, but I do have a Psmith book here in my office which is quite slim. I'm sure it will be fun to peruse.

After reading this yesterday I went home last night and pulled out an old collection of Wodehouse I've had for years called The Most of P.G. Wodehouse. It's a sort of Wodehouse reader, with a selection of various stories grouped by character, and one complete novel at the end. I read one of the Ukridge stories, Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge that is, with the middle name apparently pronounced "Fanshawe." He's a get-rich-quick schemer with a good heart. I remember liking the stories when I read them some years ago, and I was not disappointed with the one I read last night, "Ukridge's Dog College."

I haven't sampled either the Psmith or Ukridge stories, which predate Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings. Picadilly Jim left me with lowered expectations for the work of that period. But no doubt they're still worth reading. The title of that Ukridge story sounds promising.

Speaking of Blandings, apparently there was a recent BBC mini-series based on some of the Blandings stories. Anyone know if it was any good?

Recently I watched a couple of the less well-known (at least in the States) Ealing comedies -- 'Whisky Galore' and 'Passport to Pimlico.' Both were very enjoyable, and I noted while watching them that the humor was occasionally quite Wodehousian. Of course, that sort of English humor can be traced back further, to writers like Jerome K. Jerome (Three Men in a Boat is very funny) and even Dickens, whose humor is rather Wodehousian, to speak anachronistically.

Leave it to Psmith is very funny, but the other Psmith books I've read aren't Wodehouse's best.

But even then the writing is delightful. Wooster, Jeeves, and Blandings helped me through a rough patch a few years ago.

I don't think it was a mini-series, and it was probably more than 15 years ago, but there was some kind of British-made Blandings thing on PBS that was very funny. Can't remember what it was called.

You're thinking of Heavy Weather, with Peter O'Toole, I believe. But there is apparently a newer one from the last two or three years.

Yep, here it is (wikipedia is our friend). Reviews appear to be mixed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blandings_(TV_series)

I have a German translation of a Wodehouse novel. It is utterly astonishing how frothy and Wodehousian the German language can be made to sound.

One of the delights of Wodehouse is that Bertie, though "intellectually negligible," nevertheless fills his thoughts with literary and Biblical allusions. The combination of high-culture references with woolly grasp of their meanings is hilarious. I wonder whether it's funnier to us now, with our sunken general cultural level, than it was to Wodehouse's contemporaries.

I can't imagine frothy, much less Wodehousian, German.

Actually I've thought the opposite about Wodehouse's high-culture vs low-grasp humor (which I agree is one of the delights of the Wooster stories)--that a lot of it would be lost on people with little to no exposure to literature, the King James Bible, and the like. I just picked up Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit hoping to find a quick example, and the first sentence I saw was "I spent the night in durance vile." I only vaguely recognize that myself, and could not have told you where it comes from, but I did recognize it as an antique or literary way of saying "in jail." But would it get anything more than bewilderment from a product of today's schools? Or for that matter from anyone who wasn't somewhat well-read.

There's certain amount of sleight-of-hand in the character of Bertie, in that if he were really as dumb as he's supposed to be he wouldn't be throwing in those references at all, much less maintaining that flow of complex sentences.

I believe you're right about Heavy Weather, Rob. I was about so say no, it didn't have Peter O'Toole in it, but that has to be it. I taped it (yes, taped--it was 1996) and looked forward to seeing it more than once--this was about the time I was becoming a Wodehouse fan--but the reception of our local PBS station was so bad that it wasn't really worth keeping. That was one of the things that resulted, five years or so later, in us finally getting cable. I was really sick of having the few things I actually wanted to watch on tv be mangled by bad reception.

Anyway, that new one sounds worth a look, at minimum. I had heard there was something like that coming, but obviously am a couple of years behind.

I love the high culture/low culture thing too. That type of humor always appeals to me no matter where it shows up. It's in Booth Tarkington's Penrod, which is probably the single funniest book I've ever read, in the form of a highbrow, omniscient narrator telling the stories of a mischievous 12 y.o. boy in a voice that approaches the epic -- Dennis the Menace as written by Gibbon.

It's also in a lot of the Coen Bros.' best dialogue, from the asides of various characters in Raising Arizona, through George Clooney's smart alecky witticisms in O Brother, and into The Big Lebowski, with Walter's (John Goodman) hilariously educated but inappropriate observations about history and politics.

Maybe I'll give TBL another chance sometime. As we've discussed before, it didn't make that big an impression on me.

The new Blandings series is on Netflix, btw. Heavy Weather is not, alas.

You can watch it on Amazon Prime for LOTS of money-Blandings that is. It is the most expensive video per episode that I've ever seen. So, I put it on my Netflix queue, but I won't be able to watch it until Easter.

AMDG

Yeah, TBL is all about the writing (and the acting). The plot actually doesn't matter that much. And all the notorious f-bombs serve (purposely?) as a sort of smoke screen for how clever the script really is.

And do try Penrod sometime. It's a riot.

Sorry, I didn't mean that modern people, being more ignorant than Wodehouse's contemporaries, would find the high/low bit funnier. I meant that to well-read people in modern culture, "mentally negligible" is even lower than it was to Wodehouse's contemporaries, so the gap between it and Bertie's pronouncements appears wider and perhaps funnier. In other words, the sleight of hand seems bigger to us.

Oh, I see. I can't even imagine a Bertie-like character in a modern context. Certainly not an American context, and I can't manage it in a British one, either.

I wonder if the idea with Bertie is that he would have been expected to memorise and recite passages of the Bible and Shakespeare and Romantic poetry in prep school, so it would form his language whether he understood it or not. That was certainly true of my own parents' much less expensive education in the 1950s.

I've always assumed that was part of it. Frequently he'll have only fragments of a bit of poetry, and Jeeves will complete it for him. Bertie says something like "Jeeves, sometimes I wonder whether 'tis something in the mind to suffer the something something." Then Jeeves quotes it in full.

More important even than the issue of same-sex "marriage" is how on earth can I get my hands on some copies of Wodehouse without resorting to Amazon?

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=wodehouse&sts=t

AMDG

Thank you Janet!!

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