Wodehouse & me
“Gone mad?” thus spake my begum on a recent chilly February morning, noticing my loud, hearty laughter. Not once, but at frequent intervals.
Blame it on Vikram Doraiswami, our High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, for me abruptly dropping Fyodor Dostovysky’s spirituality-loaded The Karamazov Brothers and “Kindl’ing P G Wodehouse’s The Girl In Blue. Yes, the same humorist who gave up his banking career to pursue penning classics until 95.
VeeDee — sorry, Sir, for taking the liberty of abbreviating your sweet name to initialing, gave a lecture in London, his new posting after a stint in our neighborhood viz., Bangladesh, on the marvelous English writer. Sometimes, Wodehouse reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock in my mind. Don’t know why. Like my friend Dr. Sarat Das told me, Anand Mahindra closely resembles Marc Zuber. Remember the Hindi film actor of the 1980s? Does not matter.
Our envoy to His Majesty’s Kingdom gave a splendid speech on Wodehouse. Here it is, if you are interested: https://t.co/VTxMZLnU1m
Though my bookrack hosts an Omnibus P G Wodehouse collection, I stumbled upon The Girl In Blue on my Kindle.
Sample his witty/humorous wordplay:
“Homer’s life had been singularly free from beautiful girls. He did not go out in the evening very much, almost never to parties where such fauna abound, and during office hours a corporation lawyer’s chances of seeing anything in the Helen of Troy class are limited.”
Or, try this one.
A girl who has brought a strange man home to meet her mother, rather in the tentative spirit of a dog bringing a bone into a drawing room…
Who can think of comparing a dog with a bone to a daughter bringing a man to her home?
Here’s another gem, though not from the book I read but from outside. (1)
“There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.”
There is a section of literary society that has not taken Wodehouse seriously. They felt his writing was not noteworthy. No messages. Rather silly. Frivilous. Flippant.
I am afraid I have to disagree. Wodehouse writing is like a tonic. Reinvigorating. Mood maker in the positive sense. In the late 1970s, I was hospitalized in Bangalore. On one of the daily rounds, my doctor reprimanded me for reading Albert Kamus’ The Plague. “You are on the mend. Recuperating from sickness. What made you read such a grim novel? Read Wodehouse instead,” she advised.
Luckily, I had the most thumbed-through copy of Joy In the Morning, gifted by my college mate Alladi Ravishankar when we parted after graduation in economics.in 1976 at home. Next day, that Wodehousing tonic was delivered.
Thanks, Your Excellency, for rekindling my Wodehousing connection.