the evolution of a wodesian
I have a deep love for many things. England and humor are two of the foremost objects of my affection. So when I first saw BBC’s Jeeves and Wooster several years ago, I was entranced. For a long while, I contented myself watching the incomparable Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie work out the unspeakable complexities of the life of a rich, young British idiot in the 1920s, without ever experiencing the literary genius of P.G. Wodehouse. But recently, I stumbled upon a copy of Summer Lightening, and the utter brilliance of Wodehouse dawned upon me. Quicker than Bertie could protest, “but look here, Aunt Agatha!” I was a passionate Wodesian (if that is a word… but if one can be a Holmesian, why not a Wodesian?).
I suppose that if you have never experienced the world of Wode, you would not entirely understand my excitement. Let me make things more clear. P.G. Wodehouse wrote of a society that is now lost. It was a world of pig-fancying, vague old gentlemen, like Lord Emsworth, who was sadly “sister-pecked”. Then there is Bertie Wooster, the most well-known Wodehouse character, the witless, well-meaning young aristocrat with overbearing aunts and a tendency to get into trouble. And then there’s Jeeves, his irreplaceable and cerebral valet, who not only listens to Bertie’s ramblings on his current fiancee, but helps Bertie out of every scrape he rambles into. Other engaging Wodehouse creations include Rupert Baxter, the efficient yet unfortunate secretary; Beach, the dignified butler with a soft spot for air guns; Jane, the young aristocrat with the looks of a dewy rose and a love for unsuitably poor young men and cowboy novels; Sir Galahad, the dapper, soft-hearted middle-aged man with a wild youth and plenty of advice for lovesick couples; Anatole, the fiery French cook and Gussie, the unfortunate young newt-fancier smitten with the dreadfully sentimental Madeline Basset (who believes that the stars are God’s daisy chain and that Bertie Wooster is in love with her; the former is highly questionable, the latter is unthinkable).
While the characters of P.G. Wodehouse and their comic difficulties are well worth reading, it is not merely the comedy that draws me back to this world. It is the escapism that one man leant the world as he went through life observing, laughing at and engaging in a wonderful and diverse humanity.
What ho, old thing, and all that rot,