There is so much happening around us. Between the pandemic, the slump economy, water crisis, rain woes and all the overwhelming news that makes things seem dismal, we need to take a break now and then, laugh and ignore the troubles for a while. That’s where some comic fiction comes in to recharge us before we return to routine. One author who is guaranteed to have you chuckle is Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. One of the most widely read humourists of the 20th century, PG Wodehouse wrote more than 90 novels and many short stories. While his genre and characters may be old-fashioned aristocrats, the element of humour is timeless. Indeed, there is immortal laughter in P G Wodehouse novels, which makes them so loved.
My journey with PG Wodehouse novels
The first Wodehouse novel I read was ‘Pigs have wings’, lent by my best friend who is a great fan of the legend. My first reaction on reading was that there was absolutely no plot. The protagonist’s only worry is to get Empress, his cherished pig win the fattest pig prize in the village. What initially seemed boring took off well later and there was no stopping from incessant giggling. And the sequence makes you laugh every time you revisit the novel. I have had my family members comment on hearing laughter for no reason from my room or during long walks after reading the genius’ work. Though there is no set plot, each page is funny with ridiculous situations involving wealthy Brits. The effortless narration is so naturally elegant that one can visualise the characters so well. The author’s use of hyperbole and metaphors for the comedy effect is unparalleled. To quote some of the witticisms that have stood the test of time…
“It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.”Cocktail Time
“Big chap with a small moustache and the sort of eye that can open an oyster at 60 paces.”The Code of the Woosters
“She had a penetrating sort of laugh. Rather like a train going into a tunnel.”The inimitable Jeeves
His two popular series – One about the life and adventures of happy go lucky Bertie Wooster and his unique butler Jeeves, the second in the series delves into the eventful life at Blandings castle and its absent minded owner Lord Emsworth, are considered as much-loved classic creations.
His eccentric characters often face comedic mayhem that invariably lead to happy endings. Relatives especially aunts and uncles are portrayed as powerful people with financial prospects wishing to have their say in everything. Policemen are easy to fool, most recurring topic being theft of policeman’s helmet. Servants are smarter than masters.
The beauty of Wodehouse books is the sublime choice of words, tone and the observational humour that seems natural and easy all the time. His iconic characters such as Bertie Wooster and his competent valet Reginald Jeeves, Lord Emsworth, his cherished pig Empress and his bossy sister Lady Constance at Blandings castle, nerve specialist Roderick Glossop and formidable memorable aunts and uncles continue to delight us even after all these years, making Wodehouse one of the most enduring authors. If you are having a rough day, savour the Wodehouse oeuvre to lighten your mood and brighten your day. As Evelyn Waugh rightly said “Mr Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from a captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.”
Do you enjoy reading PG Wodehouse? Which book has made you laugh out loud most?
A post graduate in communications with over a decade of experience in the print media and web content development, Priyanka is also a freelance writer and a food blogger.