Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Falling in Love With P. G. Wodehouse


I've discovered an old British past time, and I've fallen in love.

I have a friend from Oxford who in particular encouraged me to buy something written by P.G.  Wodehouse.  She collected original editions.  I then saw complete sets on prominent, expensive display at G. Heywood Hill (again, will post on them soon).  I thought to myself, what's all the fuss?  I inquired, and was told how very good they all were by each and every employee of the shop.  They each had their favorite.  It seems they had all read all of them.

I hemmed and hawed.  I needed to finish other books first - I have a new, one at a time policy so I don't overdose and get distracted and paralyzed by having delved into seven books at a time and not having finished any of them.  But now, with those books behind me and a vacation coming up, I needed to indulge in something a little more lighthearted than Plutarch and a history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre (very disturbing).

But I doubted still. I did not take the purchase plunge, instead only half-committing myself by checking one out of our local lovely library.

It didn't look all that it was cracked up to be.  So instead of reading last night, I painted a watercolor while I  watched Pride and Prejudice (the rather more disappointing  Kiera Nightly version).

But this morning on the stair-climber, trying to distract myself from the torturous panting, I opened it.  And then I couldn't put it down.  It sounded just like my friend's brother, a very proper Cambridge chap whose verbiage, mannerisms, and subtle, couldn't-be-bothered wit were described in the hero of the short story to a T, the well-intentioned aristocrat who was quickly becoming enslaved to his valet, Jeeves.

Familiar words and phrases in foreign contexts painted each conversation - words like "Rum!," "ghastly," "cut up," "hand the misguided blighter the mitten" (ok, that last one was horribly foreign), "Johnnie," and "engaged."  All terribly English, and quite entertaining.

I have a sneaking feeling I will, over my lifetime, accumulate all of the P.G. Woodhose volumes, and perhaps even make a fuss over finding first editions.

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