The Inimitable Wodehouse

My family and I recently watched several episodes of Masterpiece Theatre’s adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster. Wodehouse was reluctant to have his two most popular characters depicted on stage or in film, saying, “Jeeves knows his place, and it is between the covers of a book.” Nevertheless, director Simon Langton and actors Hugh Laurie (as Bertie Wooster) and Stephen Fry (as Jeeves) really do a fantastic job in putting these stories on film.

If you are not familiar with Wodehouse and his Jeeves and Wooster stories you really are missing some very entertaining reading. The stories take place in pre-World War II England. Bumbling Bertie Wooster and his witless friends are always getting themselves into scrapes of one sort or another only to be rescued by Jeeves, Bertie’s valet (or his “gentleman’s personal gentleman”). The stories often revolve around Bertie’s (or his friends’) relationship with women, all very innocent and humorous. Frequently it’s a matter of Bertie finding himself accidentally engaged to be married…yes, accidentally. Honor forbids Bertie from openly breaking the engagement, and so Jeeves concocts some plan whereby the young woman in question sees for herself that an alliance with Mr. Wooster is not in her best interests.

Other stories often involve Bertie helping one of his chums win the affections of a young lady, only to find that his plan backfires and makes matters worse. Enter Jeeves, who saves the day with his uncanny knack for setting matters right.

The humor is subtle and distinctively British, and I have often found myself laughing out loud.


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