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favourite sotry?

The Drones Club (all things P.G. Wodehouse)

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Aug 4, 2006, 10:59pm Top

I was lucky enough to introduce a friend to P.G. recently. I recommended he start with Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend. He then read an extract of Gussie give the Prizes. What would you recommend for a first experience?

Aug 8, 2006, 5:02am Top

I always suggest starting with the School Stories, like The Head of Kay's, or A Prefect's Uncle or Mike and Psmith. By the time one encounters Psmith its addiction time.

Sep 10, 2006, 7:39am Top

Psmith, yes. Actually, Psmith in the City is in my top ten Wodehouses

Dec 3, 2006, 4:00am Top

Hey there, doshiamit, you're not by any chance the same doshiamit that wrote The Maltese Falcon and all those other Sam Spade novels are you?

I just wanted to post to say that getting people to read Plum's early novels that were based on his nostalgia for his own public school days might NOT be the very best strategy for turning them into life-long Wodehouse fans. So I'm just writing to let you know, old fruit, that I'm on to your little ruse here.

You may reckon that by trying to scare everybody off of Plum by fooling them all into struggling with The Head of Kay's right off the bat there will consequently be more Wodehouse novels left in the stores this Christmas for you to buy, old chum, but don't you think that attitude might be just a teeny bit selfish of you, and not quite in-keeping with the Yuletide spirit? Dash it all, old chap, it's just not cricket!

Dec 3, 2006, 9:23am Top

If we're talking about stories and not novels (I'd have an impossible time deciding which Wodehouse novels I like best!), there are two in The World of Mr. Mulliner that leap to mind immediately:
"Mulliner's Buck-U-Uppo" and its even better follow-up story "The Bishop's Move"

("Morning, Bish."
"Good morning, Mr. Mullliner," said the bishop affably. "I have lain somewhat late today."
"I say, Bish," asked Augustine, a little anxiously, "Did you take a very big dose of the Buck-U-Uppo last night?"
"Big? No. As I recollect, quite small.
Barely two ordinary wine-glasses full."
"Great Scott!"
"Why do you ask, my dear fellow?"
"Oh, nothing. No particular reason. I just thought your manner seemed a little strange {when you were climbing up} the water-pipe, that's all.")

"The Fiery Wooing of Mordred"
(In which Mordred, being something of an unintentional firebug, is invited to the home (or as her father puts it, the "infernal family vault") of his beloved Annabelle, where her parents cherish the thought that it may someday go up in flames for the insurance money.
"Annabelle will show you the way to the cellar - in case you had thought of going there," said Lady Sprockett-Sprockett. "Won't you, dear?"
"Of course, Mother. You will like the celler, Mordred, darling. Most picturesque. Possibly, if you are interested in paraffin, you might also care to take a look at our little store of paper and shavings?"
"My angel," said Mordred, tenderly. "You think of everything.")

It makes me smile just thinking about them.

Edited: Dec 4, 2006, 1:23am Top

As you know, Maggie :), some of Plum's best writing and funniest plots were done in the Mulliner voice. If he had a good comedic idea that wouldn't fit the usual list of suspects and characters that populated his Blandings or Jeeves and Wooster novels, he would usually give it instead to the resident patron of the bar parlor of the Angler's Rest. Thus Mr. Mulliner ends up delivering some of Plum's tallest stories and most purple prose. For me, it was a true pleasure discovering the Mulliner side of Wodehouse because most people who newly discover him seem to always focus in only on the Jeeves and Wooster farce.

As good and brilliant as that is, overall I think I prefer the Blandings novels because they allow Plum more flexibility to intermix the unlikeliest of characters in a perfect setting - the English country mansion. After the initial stories were written, the Drones Club and the Jeeves/Wooster London residence must have become a bit restrictive WRT possible plot scenarios, but once Wodehouse is able to whisk Bertie and Jeeves off to the countryside on some pretext to help out one of his aunts in distress, this then completely opens up many more potential plot possibilities for complex intertwined farce to ensue.

For me, every Blandings novel is a total spoof of every Who-Done-It ever written even though that is certainly not the main target of Plum's satire and parody. But just as the isolated rural country estate makes the perfect setting for a Sayers or Christie Who-Done-It, it also makes the perfect setting for performing pig related crimes and purloining country bobby uniforms, and all the other nonsense of a good Wodehousian farce.

However, I always get the feeling that with Mr. Mulliner Plum discovered a whole new level of freedom again. Within the Mulliner framework Wodehouse could relate just about any tall story he wanted and yet still anchor it in the habitual setting of the Angler's Rest, thereby making it seem every bit as familiar as his Oldest Member, Ukridge, Psmith, Blandings, Drones Club, or Wooster/Jeeves adventures. And then there are the continual background in-jokes for those people that read more than a few Mr. Mulliner stories ... e.g., that almost every character that isn't from a previous Blandings or Drones Club story is portrayed as some distant relative of Mr. Mulliner (he would be from the such and such branch of the Mulliner family, which extended from the East End of London up to Scotland and all the way out to Hollywood and L.A.). Even the introduction to these stories, where all the characters in the pub discussing the upcoming story are identified only by their drinks, always brings a smile to my face.

If I am not mistaken, Wodehouse's little technique of starting each Mr. Mulliner story narration in the present tense (i.e., in the pub and focused from the perspective of someone observing the eventual narrator, Mr. Mulliner) and then shifting the story narration back in time but to the present tense of the action (as if Mr. Mulliner had taken over the telling of the story and we are now listening directly to him rather than the person that had been observing him) is unique to him. Of course, he also uses the same technique for his Oldest Member golf stories. In fact, the Angler's Rest and the golf clubhouse, and Mr. Mulliner and the Oldest Member, are really both quite interchangeable.

Wodehouse was quite adept at recycling his stories many times over (each time for green and crinklies of both the Sterling and Dollar kind). He would write a short generic story for, say, The Strand magazine in London (and, I assume, get paid in pounds); then he would sell the same story to, say, The Saturday Evening Post but with a different title (and get paid in dollars); then to meet his book publishing deadline in the U.K. he might rewrite that same generic short story in the Oldest Member voice (and with yet a new title) so that it could be included in the next collection of his golf stories (and, I assume, he got paid in pounds again); and finally he might even rewrite the story a fourth time in the Mr. Mulliner voice so that it could be included in an upcoming American compilation of his Mr. Mulliner short stories (for which I assume he got paid in dollars again).

Of course there would then be the U.S. release of his already British published book of golf stories and the U.K. release of his already American published book of Mr. Mulliner stories for which even more dollars and pounds would come in his direction. By which point it was now time to produce next month's short story for The Strand magazine and he would start the whole cycle over again. There was usually about a two month delay between U.K. and U.S. magazine publications of a story, and probably something of a similar timeframe between the release of the U.K. and U.S. editions of his books. So Plum was a master at continually keeping product coming in order to keep at least four groups of editors and publishers on both side of the pond happy at the same time. Compare this with, say, Douglas Adams who had great difficulty keeping just the one publisher happy at all - hence his famous witticism, "I love deadlines; I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

This is why there are quite a number of Plum's short stories that have up to four different titles and slightly different plot and character variations, and also why there is a Mr. Mulliner golf story in the Wodehouse canon. But even taking into account all these multiple versions (and not double or triple counting) Wodehouse's writing output was prolific by anyone's standards. And he did it all with just a typewriter. I shudder to think how prolific Wodehouse's output would have been if he had owned a word processor for just a portion of his life!

Dec 4, 2006, 4:17am Top

As regards that Mulliner dude, I just don`t dig his groove thang, man. Agree there is much more to Wodehouse than Jeeves and Wooster, though.

Dec 4, 2006, 11:35am Top

And he did it all with just a typewriter.

One of the Internet's countless magnificent obsessions: myTypewriter.com.

Mar 2, 2007, 6:45am Top

Plums Nostalgia probably reflects my own... I really love the Head of Kays... its one of my favourite Wodehouse stories.

Jul 20, 2007, 11:39am Top

My favorite Wodehouse story was "Uncle Fred Flits By." I read it aloud to my ex and we laughed so hard we were almost sick.

Mar 29, 2008, 6:32pm Top

"Jeeves and The Song of Songs"- when Jeeves describes to Bertie that Tuppy's large fiance slugged him in th eye for setting her up to sing "Sonny Boy" to a crowd that had just sat through the song several times.

Mar 31, 2008, 4:04pm Top

Any stories with the aunts, esp. the cow creamer. The phrase about aunts baying like mastodons across a primeval swamp (I don't have the actual book here) has cheered me up innumerable times.

Apr 6, 2008, 5:45pm Top

It's almost impossible to choose.

I do agree about the aunts, esp. Aunt Agatha: "The aunt to to whom I alluded was my good and deserving Aunt Dahlia, not to be confused with my Aunt Agatha who who eats broken bottles and is strongly suspected of turning into a werewolf at the time of the full moon." -or- "... not to be confused with Aunt Agatha, the one who kills rats with her teeth and devours her young..."

I also agree that there's more (much more) to Wodehouse than Jeeves and Wooster, but it's hard to go wrong by starting there. My first encounter with the magic of Plum was the novel "Joy in the Morning" which I completed on March 21, 1969 at the behest of my graduate school roommate, George. I was hooked immediately and proceded to read 8 more Wodehouse novels (not all Jeeves & Wooster) which I checked out of the Cornell University Library. Among those were the delightful and rare? "If I Were You" as well as "Pigs Have Wings" and "Company for Henry"

But just about any Wodehouse story or novel chosen at random will likely make one a fan, always assuming of course that one was predisposed in that direction to begin with.

Apr 27, 2009, 8:31pm Top

I recently read "The Cat-Nappers". Very funny, but Jeeves has a smaller role than usual as he leaves to visit an aunt about half-way through. Bertie on his own can't end well.

Apr 28, 2009, 10:12am Top

The Cat-nappers is the US version of Aunts aren't gentlemen, if I haven't got it mixed up - strictly speaking I suppose that would be a nvoel, rather than a sotry. Rather late, and definitely not the best of the Jeeves books, but it does have a few good bits. Bertie probably does need to be separated or estranged from Jeeves for at least part of each book, otherwise it's difficult for him to get himself into enough trouble to make it worthwhile for Jeeves to sort out the mess.

Aug 20, 2009, 7:53pm Top

#15 - 'strictly speaking I suppose that would be a nvoel, rather than a sotry'

Ouch! (or ocuh!). I usually proof-read a bit better than in the intro post...

Edited: Aug 25, 2009, 10:16pm Top

>16 akenned5:

Someone please refresh my memory ... in which novel does Alexander Charles "Oofy" Proofer-Read (pronounced "Roughthread" - the 'p' is silent) appear? Yes, I can't help thinking that you might have had a lot more responses to your OP if it had been focused instead on readers' favorite Wodehouse stories. Still, you've gotta admire how prolific Plum was ... I believe he crafted more sotries than any of his literary contemporaries in addition to sallying forth on all his other sorties into novels and short stories!

Aug 24, 2009, 11:36am Top

This is from Wikipedia, but the charachter is Oofy Prosser.

Oofy is featured in:

"The Knightly Quest of Mervyn" (Mr Mulliner, featuring the Oofy stand-in "Alexander C. Prosser")
"All's Well with Bingo" (Drone Bingo Little)
"Sonny Boy" (Drone Bingo Little)
Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939) – Uncle Fred and Blandings novel, action started by Pongo, Horace, and Oofy at the club
"The Word in Season" (Drone Bingo Little)
"Freddie, Oofy and the Beef Trust" (Drone Freddie Widgeon with Oofy Prosser)
"The Shadow Passes" (Drone Bingo Little)
"Leave it to Algy" (Drone Bingo Little with Oofy Prosser)
"The Fat of the Land" (Drone Freddie Widgeon)
Ice in the Bedroom(1961) – novel about Drone Freddie Widgeon with Oofy Prosser
Oofy is mentioned in:

"The Luck of the Stiffhams" (Drone Stiffy Stiffham)
"Stylish Stouts" also recycled as "The Great Fat Uncle Contest" (Drone Bingo Little)
Galahad at Blandings (1965) – Blandings novel

Oct 15, 2009, 7:04am Top

Hello Old Turnips,

New am I to Library thing and glad am I to see my 108 Wodehouse books have found digs in which to be appreciated.

I can't help saying that our Uncle Dynamite is my Favourite, well, one certainly.

Mar 22, 2010, 1:54pm Top

If you're asking which my favourite stories are, they would have to be the school stories - Mike at Wrykyn etc; but as an introduction, there's one that absolutely has me rolling on the floor, rather than smiling amusedly, or even guffawing out loud. Um ... Wodehouse books are, at present, inaccessible, but the story had someone (Lord Emsworth?) creeping downstairs in the middle of the night for a midnight snack and someone else (the Efficient Baxter?) discovering a Body, and his brave actions that followed. Anyone have any clue which book I'm trying to remember?

Edited: Mar 23, 2010, 1:29pm Top

Most of the Blandings books have a scene where someone is creeping around the Castle late at night and Baxter is trying to catch them at it but comes to grief. I think you've probably got Something Fresh (a.k.a. Something New) in mind:
And so the Efficient Baxter crawled on; and as he crawled his hand, advancing cautiously, fell on something — something that was not alive; something clammy and ice-cold, the touch of which filled him with a nameless horror.

To say that Baxter's heart stood still would be physiologically inexact. The heart does not stand still. Whatever the emotions of its owner, it goes on beating. It would be more accurate to say that Baxter felt like a man taking his first ride in an express elevator, who has outstripped his vital organs by several floors and sees no immediate prospect of their ever catching up with him again. There was a great cold void where the more intimate parts of his body should have been. His throat was dry and contracted. The flesh of his back crawled, for he knew what it was he had touched.

(It turns out to be the cold tongue that was part of the midnight snack George Emerson was carrying.)

Mar 24, 2010, 11:10am Top

That's it, absolutely! (Though I was trying not to give away the, um, ending)

Mar 24, 2010, 1:34pm Top

Fair enough - although I think you'd have to be rather dense not to see that one coming. But maybe I've read it too often.

Baxter's always been a favourite character of mine, for some odd reason. Maybe it's his persistence: lesser men would have given up years ago, but Baxter just keeps bouncing back.

Mar 24, 2010, 3:55pm Top

Thinking about it, you're probably right; it's been a while since I read it. But I remember that the first time I read it, it was knockout hilarious, but each successive read, less so, because I knew what would happen, when.

Personally, I breathed a sigh of relief when Baxter's persistence was finally overcome, and he threw up his hands in despair (or was it disgust?) - all those nephews were constantly stubbing their toes on him on their paths to true love.

Oct 15, 2011, 11:57am Top

My first was Right Ho, Jeeves. If you're talking about stories then I would probably recommend Jeeves and the Song of Songs and Jeeves Takes Charge.

Mar 23, 2012, 6:59am Top

The Great Sermon Handicap. A brilliant story. Bingo, Claude and Eustace (sadly underused), the unspeakable Steggles. A great denoument. Just a sunny masterpiece.
Paddy Leigh Fermor the great writer, traveller and soldier translated this into Greek. Quite how Bertie would feature with Achilles & co makes the mind reel.
BTW-Only just joined LibraryThing and delighted to discover the group.

Mar 23, 2012, 8:54am Top

>26 Constantinopolitan:
Yes, the GSH is definitely one of the finest Jeeves stories. Welcome, your imperial and royal highness!

Mar 23, 2012, 11:17am Top

A privilege and an honour to be so welcomed!


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