Tuesday 18 December 2018
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.theguardian - 11 days ago

Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott review – bang-on Bertie Wooster reboot

This homage to PG Wodehouse is a bravura performance that twinkles with energy, puns and wisecracksAccording to Evelyn Waugh, “Mr Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own.” He has certainly continued to release future generations from the irksome captivity of writing as themselves. Following in what he calls “the patent-leather footsteps of the greatest humorist in the English language”, Ben Schott of the Schott’s Miscellanies fame has written a homage to everyone’s favourite Wodehouse creations, Jeeves and Wooster. (He’s not the first: Sebastian Faulks had a go in 2013, in Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.) The book, we are told, is “Authorised by the PG Wodehouse Estate”, which is certainly reassuring – but is it any good? The stakes are high. Fond pastiche or parody? A novel or a novelty?The challenges are considerable, for Wodehouse was possessed of what one might justifiably describe as a unique prose style – loose, allusive, zippy, zingy, packed full of slang and overflowing with elaborate metaphors and similes, not to mention endless puns, wordplay and wisecracks. Every sentence is a performance. In 1949’s The Mating Season, for example, Rev Sidney Pirbright, vicar of King’s Deverill and uncle of “Catsmeat” Potter-Pirbright, is described as “a tall, drooping man, looking as if he had been stuffed in a hurry by an incompetent taxidermist”. He “was not one of those boisterous vicars who, when opening a village concert, bound on the stage with a whoop and a holler, give the parishioners a huge Hallo, slam across a couple of travelling-salesman-and-farmer’s-daughter stories and bound off, beaming”. The general effect is of being force-fed golden sugar cubes. Continue reading...

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