Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I just finished reading Piccadilly Jim by P.G. Wodehouse. As ever, it was a most enjoyable reading experience. Regardless of the fact that the plot contained little new, and the humour was the same and the people immediately familiar. Though, I must say that this novel looks at life and baseball in the US of A, and contains some exquisite comparisons between the two batty games, things which are somewhat newish to one who has been long in Jeeves-Wooster-Ukridge-Blandings-Psmith fold.

I think it is the sameness that is most enduring and attractive part of the Wodehouse works. There is no possibility of anything nasty happening, you are always sure that everything will end happily, people who want to marry will marry, people who accidentally get engaged will be disengaged, theft of various articles from cow-creamers to the pig Empress of Blandings will yield fruitful results. Most importantly, you will get a glimpse of a life which is now impossible. The idyllic settings of country houses and city clubs, faithful butlers and fantastic escapades, easy living and little thinking (no terrorism or such violence, no worries about work-pressure, no spousy arguments), the only fear in existence is of scheming rivals in pig-competitions and rich aunts – such is the stuff many dreams are made of. Dreams of decent and witty people – I should hastily add – not of those who dream of power and glory and money! This is no insidious Wildean satire, this is no social-evil-mirroring comedy of manners, nor Shavian close-shaves – what this is perhaps the only genuine good-hearted, good-humoured, good-natured look at life and things like it. This is the proverbial underneath of greenwood tree, truly far from the madding crowd.

What is also surprising, even in this pre-everything time, is that men and women are mostly on the same page (forgive my usage, could not help using this idiomatic idiocy). Mr Wodehouse is as fair as one can be. True, he has gentleman suitors and vague blondes, but he has equally powerful females and equally vague Gussy Fink-Nottle types. Here women are rescued by men, men are rescued by women, men and women rescued from each other. Romances are sometimes complicated and sometimes as easy as shouting “My mate!” and taking the other into one’s bosom! In our days of idiotic hustle and bustle and rustle, this is the medicine. Though I never wish life should have been like this, but why not partially, why not at times?

1 comment:

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I have just bought a box-set of P G Wodehouses (it is totally blasphemous that I haven't read one yet, as our erstwhile Don Quixotic colleague - you know who I mean - would say). It is a typical Mumbai activity, buy stuff for decoration and display, not for perusal and digestion.

But your post has whetted my appetite (for reading, that is).

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