I just enjoyed the cathartic pleasures of some laugh-out-loud, tears-rolling-down humor in P.G. Wodehouse’s tales of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves--in a wonderful collection of Wodehouse’s witty short stories, The Most of P.G. Wodehouse (Scribner, 2000), which I picked up in Chicago a few weeks ago. A delightful change of pace from more sober reading of late.
Thinking back, I was put onto Wodehouse by two quite different trajectories that both intersect in Evelyn Waugh. The first was via Christopher Hitchens who, in Love, Poverty, and War, comments on both Waugh and Wodehouse. The second avenue was through the leads provided by George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic, which also put me onto Waugh. Then, a couple months ago, on a gorgeous Saturday in early March, I sauntered over to a local used book shop (All the King’s Books) and found a wonderful collection on Waugh (Evelyn Waugh and His World, edited by David Pryce-Jones), which made several mentions of Wodehouse, including reference to Waugh’s defense of Woodhouse in the Times (16 July 1961). So when I ran into this Wodehouse collection in Chicago (and for a bargain!), it seemed as if Evelyn had led me to the spot. Tonight’s read was the pay-off.