Monday, March 09, 2009

P.G Wodehouse and the Glory of Language

I've been reading a rather special P.G.Wodehouse collection bought for me by my parents recently. I've seen (and own on DVD) all the Jeeves and Wooster stories but had never actually read the written word. It's the reading equivalent of a beautifully sung and gleefully catchy song. Each sentence rolls along with such a smooth slide that you'd think the author spent hours making it just so. It's true that Wodehouse loved musical theatre, and reading his written word really bares that out, but by all contemporary accounts this style of writing came quite naturally to the good man!

It's the use of language that gets me every time, even in the clip below the use of odd hyperbole and plummy colloquial phrases doesn't detract from the message being given. In fact Jeeves is often very sparing with his words, he cuts through to the point with startling efficiency! Jeeves also has the fantastically English knack of putting someone down harshly without being in the last bit offensive. My favourite lines in this clip are;

JEEVES (holding a hat), "I assumed this got into your wardrobe by accident, or was placed there by an enemy?"

WOOSTER, "But I bought it in Cannes!"

JEEVES, "and wore it sir?"

The humour is so delightfully subtle that if you're not paying attention you won't get it, something that a lot of modern script writers could learn a lot from. I hope in my writings I am unafraid of subtlety and never take the short cut to an easy laugh. Sir Wodehouse, I salute you!