Monday, July 25, 2005

One of the best of the Best

I have a hard time thinking about exactly what to say about Code of the Woosters, because P. G. Wodehouse is my favorite writer and this is one of his best books. Wodehouse was, without a doubt, the greatest humorous writer of the 20th Century (sorry Douglas Adams fans, but I bet he would've agreed with me). This book is simply hilarious.

The plot is Wodehouse at his convoluted best. Bertie Wooster gets sent to make disparaging remarks about a silver cow creamer so his uncle can buy it more cheaply. Naturally, he manages to make a mess of things, and the cow creamer ends up in the hands of Sir Watkyn Bassett. So Bertie is sent to that Hell on Earth, Totleigh Towers, to retrieve (i.e. steal) the thing. To do so, he has to get past old Pop Bassett and his minion Spode, the would-be dictator and general pug ugly. Bertie also has to help a few old friends whose love lives are in jeopardy. In the process, he nearly gets married and arrested, but thanks to the super mind of Jeeves, who is a valet—not a butler—everything turns out all right.

The book is also full of Wodehouse’s exquisite prose. Just to pick a few examples at random:

“Nothing can ever render being treed on top of a chest of drawers by an Aberdeen terrier pleasant, but it seemed to me that the least you can expect on such an occasion is that the animal will meet you halfway and not drop salt into the wound by looking at you as if he were asking if you were saved."

“I don’t say I didn't leave my chair like a jack rabbit that has sat on a cactus...”

“As Jeeves said, when I described the scene to him, the whole situation resembled some great moment in Greek tragedy, where somebody is stepping high, wide and handsome, quite unconscious that all the while Nemesis is at his heels, and he may be right.”

As I've said before, Wodehouse is the best, and this is one of his best. I give it 5 yo-yos.

Coming soon, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

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