Monday, November 11, 2013

On The Dubious Widom of Resurrecting a Beloved Literary Character

A few days ago mom got an alert on her kindle thingamajig, she clicked it and the alert lead her to a description of an item the Amazonians thought she might like to buy.

Now we have written before about our mom's love of PG Wodehouse  (here and here and here again).  See mom was raised on this stuff, our late grand dad was a major Wodehouse fan and while other children were listening to Good Night Moon mom was hearing Jeeves and The Tie that Binds.  When mom met dad she quickly set about educating him in the ways of Wodehouse and while Dad is not as big of a fan of the books as mom, he does like the Jeeves and Wooster TV show, which is frequently on repeat viewing here.   When they got married they even had a line, only one for me,  from the song Oh by Jingo which was sung on the show engraved on their wedding rings (you can here the song in the clip below.)

 So you might think mom would be  jumping for joy at the idea of a new Jeeves and Wooster book, but in fact she is pretty non-plussed.  See this book is not some lost tome from the master, but rather the work of an imitator, Sebastian Faulks.   Apparently Wodehouse's estate thought it would be a good idea to publish another novel and Faulks who previously resurrected James Bond was their choice.

The idea seems pretty silly to us, Wodehouse was nothing short of prolific.  During his 93 years he published 96 novels and short stories, 15 plays, and  the lyrics for over 30 musical comedies, a tolerably large amount of material to keep his legions of fans entertained.

We have heard that many feel the Wodehouse  writing style is a bit shall we say formulaic, something Wodehouse admitted to himself in the introduction to Summer Lightening (1929)

A certain critic—for such men, I regret to say, do exist—made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained ‘all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled this man by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy. (From preface)

But shouldn't a formula this perfect be left to the master, and if Jeeves and Bertie do have to be resurrected then shouldn't our dear friend Bouncing Bertie  have done the honors?  

While Bouncing Bertie's chosen field may be science one glimpse at  his blog will show you he has mastered satire.  Perhaps a letter writing campaign to the Wodehouse estate could ensure that the responsibility for next book, if there is a next one, could be placed in his capable paws.

Note: If you have no idea who PG Wodehouse is then we apologize for this post.  Also we hope Bouncing Bertie doesn't mind us using his picture.


  1. What an honour to appear on this distinguished blog! Of course you know I was named after Bertie Wooster as Gail is a big Wodehouse fan. I think she shares your reservations about this new venture. Why indeed? That said, if someone has to do it, we believe that Sebastian Faulks is the right choice. He regularly appears on an entertaining literary quiz, 'The Write Stuff', on BBC Radio 4, in which participants are asked to write (satirically) in the style of a well known author, and he does this quite brilliantly.
    Toodle pip!

  2. Authors are just another money making machine - even when they are dead, it seems.
    Lynne x

  3. We agree with is all about the money honey. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Never heard of Wodehouse even though I majored in English. I'll definitely have to check his stuff out!

  5. Love the books but never saw the TV show. I think the whole idea of one author trying to imitate another is a turnoff. Yes it is about the money but it's creepy anyway.

  6. I think it's sweet that your book has a chewed off corner.

  7. Never heard of him but we enjoy reading your views :) xxooxxx

    Mollie and Alfie