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The Mating Season (1949)

by P. G. Wodehouse

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Jeeves (8)

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1,447289,825 (4.23)50
Fans of P. G. Wodehouse's comic genius are legion, and their devotion to his masterful command of the hilarity borders on an obsession. "The Mating Season" is a time of love, mistaken identity, and mishap for Bertie, Gussie Fink-Nottle and other guests staying at Deverill Hall-luckily there's unflappable Jeeves to set things right.… (more)
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English (26)  Dutch (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Great story. ( )
  addunn3 | Mar 6, 2021 |
Good Wodehouse.

> As I put hat on hat-peg and umbrella in umbrella-stand, I was thinking that if God wasn't in His heaven and all right with the world, these conditions prevailed as near as made no matter. Not the suspicion of an inkling, if you see what I mean, that round the corner lurked the bitter awakening, stuffed eelskin in hand, waiting to soak me on the occiput.

> This young prune is one of those lissom girls of medium height, constructed on the lines of Gertrude Lawrence, and her map had always been worth more than a passing glance. In repose, it has a sort of meditative expression, as if she were a pure white soul thinking beautiful thoughts, and, when animated, so dashed animated that it boosts the morale just to look at her. Her eyes are a kind of browny hazel and her hair rather along the same lines. The general effect is of an angel who eats lots of yeast. In fine, if you were called upon to pick something to be cast on a desert island with, Hedy Lamarr might be your first choice, but Corky Pirbright would inevitably come high up in the list of Hon. Mentions.

> I subjected Catsmeat to a keen glance. I am told by those who know that there are six varieties of hangover - the Broken Compass, the Sewing Machine, the Comet, the Atomic, the Cement Mixer, and the Gremlin Boogie, and his manner suggested that he had got them all. "So you were lathered last night?" I said. "I was perhaps a mite polluted," he admitted.

> She took his head in both hands and shook it, causing him to shoot ceilingwards, this time with a cry so little stifled that it rang through the room like the death rattle of a hundred expiring hyenas.

> "So!" he said, and his voice was cold and hard, like a picnic egg … She drove off, Gussie standing gaping after her transfixed, like a goldfish staring at an ant's egg. … He had been standing with a rather morose expression on his face, like an elephant that has had its bun taken from it… At the outset he listened dumbly, his eyes bulging, his lips moving like those of a salmon in the spawning season… He must have noticed the tense, set expression on my face, rather like that of a starving wolf giving a Russian peasant the once-over

> I levered up a forkful of kipper and passed it absently over the larynx, endeavouring to adjust the faculties to a set-up which even the most intrepid would have had to admit was a honey.

> And as the days went by, these unsettled outlooks became more unsettled, those V-shaped depressions even V-er… No, the root of the trouble, the thing that was giving me dizzy spells and night sweats and making me look like the poor bit of human wreckage in the "before taking" pictures in the advertisements of Haddock's Headache Hokies, was the sinister behaviour of Gussie Fink-Nottle . Contemplating Gussie, I found my soul darkened by a nameless fear. I don't know if you have ever had your soul darkened, by a nameless fear. It's a most unpleasant feeling.

> As I walked, I was thinking hard and bitter thought; of Corky, the fons et origo, if you know what I mean by fons et origo, of all the trouble.

> I had almost permanently now a fluttering sensation at the pit of the stomach, as if I had recendy swallowed far more mice than I could have wished… The mice in my interior had how got up an informal dance and were buck-and-winging all over the place like a bunch of Nijinskys… The floor seemed to heave beneath me like a stage sea. The mice, which since that letter sequence and the subsequent chat with Corky had been taking a breather, sprang into renewed activity, as if starting teaming for some athletic sports.

> There are letters which sow doubts as to whether this bit here couldn't have been rather more neatly phrased and that bit there gingered up a trifle, and other letters of which you say to yourself "This is the goods. Don't alter a word". This was one of the latter letters.

> "No, Catsmeat, The code of the Woosters restrains me. The code of the Woosters is more rigid than the code of the Catsmeats. A Wooster cannot open a telegram addressed to another, even if for the moment he is that other, if you see what I mean. I'll have to submit them to Gussie." … The catch about the code of the Woosters is that if you start examining it with a couple of telegrams staring you in the face, one of them almost certainly containing news of vital import, you find yourself after a while beginning to wonder if it's really so hot, after all. I mean to say, the thought creeps in that maybe, if one did but know, the Woosters are priceless asses to let themselves be ruled by a code like that … Ask the first lion cub you meet, and it will tell you that, once you've tasted blood, there is no pulling up, and it's the same with opening telegrams… I could no more stop myself opening it than you can stop yourself eating another salted almond.

> Yes, that was the torpedo that exploded under my hows, and I had the feeling you get sometimes that some practical joker has suddenly removed all the bones from your legs, substituting for them an unsatisfactory jelly.

> It is a pretty well established fact that the heart bowed down with weight of woe to weakest hope will cling, and that's what mine did

> I found myself musing, as I have so often had occasion to do, on the callous way in which Nature refuses to chip in and do its bit when the human heart is in the soup. Though howling hurricanes and driving rainstorms would have been a more suitable accompaniment to the run of the action, the morning - or morn, if you prefer to string along with Aunt Charlotte - was bright and fair… Did Nature care? Not a hoot. The sky continued blue, and the fatheaded sun which I have mentioned shone smilingly throughout.

> The room in which I found myself was bright and cheerful, in which respect it differed substantially from Bertram Wooster.

> Presently, unable to stand the sight of him any longer, I turned away and began to pace the room like some caged creature of the wild, the only difference being that whereas a caged creature of the wild would not have bumped into and come within a toucher of upsetting a small table with a silver cup, a golf ball in a glass case and a large framed photograph on it, I did.

> My heart, ceasing to stand still, gave a leap and tried to get out through my front teeth.

> "I tell you, Jeeves, the spirits are low. I don't know if you have ever been tied hand and foot to a chair in front of a barrel of gunpowder with an inch of lighted candle on top of it?"

> It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and it had that quality which I have noticed in all violin solos, of seeming to last much longer than it actually did.

> I have spoken earlier of the tendency of the spirit of the Woosters to rise when crushed to earth, but there is a limit, and this limit had now been reached. At these frightful words, the spirit of the Woosters felt as if it had been sat on by an elephant. And not one of your streamlined, schoolgirl-figured elephants, either. A big, fat one.

> "I noticed, Jeeves, that when I started telling you the bad news just now, one of your eyebrows flickered." "Yes, sir. I was much exercised."

> "I am not sanguine. It would mean that Fate was handing out lucky breaks, and my experience of Fate-" I would have spoken further and probably been pretty deepish, for the subject of Fate and its consistent tendency to give good men the elbow was one to which I had devoted considerable thought…

> There come times in a man's life when he rather tends to think only of self, and I must confess that the anguish of the above tortured souls was almost completely thrust into the background of my consciousness by the reflection that Fate after a rocky start had at last done the square thing by Bertram Wooster. My mental attitude, in short, was about that of an African explorer who by prompt shinning up a tree has just contrived to elude a quick-tempered crocodile and gathers from a series of shrieks below that his faithful native bearer had not been so fortunate. I mean to say he mourns, no doubt, as he listens to the doings, but though his heart may bleed, he cannot help his primary emotion being one of sober relief that, however sticky life may have become for native bearers, he, personally, is sitting on top of the world.

> In dishing up this narrative for family consumption, it has been my constant aim throughout to get the right word in the right place and to avoid fobbing the customers off with something weak and inexpressive when they have a right to expect the telling phrase. It means a bit of extra work, but one has one's code. We will therefore expunge that "came" at the conclusion of the previous spasm and substitute for it "curvetted".

> Constable Dobbs's was not a face that lent itself readily to any great display of emotion. It looked as if it had been carved out of some hard kind of wood by a sculptor who had studied at a Correspondence School and had got to about Lesson Three. ( )
  breic | Jul 9, 2020 |
‘Still,’ I said, feeling that it was worth trying, ‘it’s part of the great web, what?’
‘Great web?’
‘One of Marcus Aurelius’s cracks. He said: “Does aught befall you? It is good. It is part of the destiny of the Universe ordained for you from the beginning. All that befalls you is part of the great web.”’
From the brusque manner in which he damned and blasted Marcus Aurelius, I gathered that, just as had happened when Jeeves sprang it on me, the gag had failed to bring balm. I hadn’t had much hope that it would. I doubt, as a matter of fact, if Marcus Aurelius’s material is ever the stuff to give the troops at a moment when they have just stubbed their toe on the brick of Fate. You want to wait till the agony has abated.

This was ridiculously good fun. I love Jeeves and Wooster series but some stories are better than others, and this was one of the best ones. Dare I say, it was on the same level as the one with Aunt Dahlia and the cow creamer? I like that one, too.

Anyway, in this one Bertie is trying to help a couple of his friends to untangle some obstacles in their love lives, and of course, just makes it worse. What stood out from the start in this one, however, is that Bertie is not just having to deal with one of his own aunts, but also no less than five aunts of one of his friends' betrothed...and five aunts is really more than anyone should be expected to deal with.

While there is slapstick galore in this story, we also get to see Bertie from new angles. For example, we learn that he - as many of us do - resorts to reading to calm his nerves:

"I have generally found on these occasions when the heart is heavy that the best thing to do is to curl up with a good goose-flesher and try to forget, and fortunately I had packed among my effects one called Murder At Greystone Grange. I started to turn its pages now, and found that I couldn’t have made a sounder move. It was one of those works in which Baronets are constantly being discovered dead in libraries and the heroine can’t turn in for a night without a Thing popping through a panel in the wall of her bedroom and starting to chuck its weight about, and it was not long before I was so soothed that I was able to switch off the light and fall into a refreshing sleep, which lasted, as my refreshing sleeps always do, till the coming of the morning cup of tea."
( )
2 vote BrokenTune | May 10, 2020 |
brilliant. wodehouse in the late thirties and early forties is at his sharpest, his funniest, his most lyrical. the bassett is one of my favorite literary creations, period. ( )
  charlyk | Nov 15, 2019 |
The Jeeves and Wooster books by P.G. Wodehouse are simply delightful. The audio editions narrated by Jonathan Cecil are my favorite format for them. They're not really laugh out loud humor but it's humor that definitely makes you smile.

This one plays out a bit like a Shakespearean romantic comedy. There are people pretending to be other people. There are multiple couples who are mixed up with people other than the ones they truly love. There are madcap adventures to keep the people who know who the pretenders really are from dropping in and revealing the truth. And of course everything works out the way it should.

It's a fun bit of romantic meddling which is Bertie Wooster's specialty.

Do yourself a favor and listen to the audio editions of the Jeeves and Wooster books. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Sep 18, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wodehouse, P. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hitchens, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klimowski, AndrzejCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wielek-Berg, W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willberg, Peter B.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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While I would not go so far, perhaps, as to describe the heart as actually leaden, I must confess that on the eve of starting to do my bit of time at Deverill Hall I was definitely short on chirpiness.
Quotations
She didn't like him being an atheist, and he wouldn't stop being an atheist, and finally he said something about Jonah and the Whale which it was impossible for her to overlook. This morning she returned the ring, his letters and a china ornament with `A Present From Blackpool' on it which he had brought her last summer while visiting relatives in the north.
On the cue 'five aunts' I had given at the knees a trifle, for the thought of being confronted with such a solid gaggle of aunts, even if those of another, was an unnerving one. Reminding myself that in this life it is not aunts that matter, but the courage that one brings to them, I pulled myself together.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Fans of P. G. Wodehouse's comic genius are legion, and their devotion to his masterful command of the hilarity borders on an obsession. "The Mating Season" is a time of love, mistaken identity, and mishap for Bertie, Gussie Fink-Nottle and other guests staying at Deverill Hall-luckily there's unflappable Jeeves to set things right.

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Overlook Press blurb:
When Bertie Wooster visits Deverill Hall pretending to be Gussie Fink-Nottle he finds himself in trouble. To begin with, there is the case of Esmond Haddock, JP, the squire of King's Deverill, and his surging sea of aunts. Then there is the problem with 'Corky' Pirbright, Constable Dobbs and the dog. Complicating matters further, Esmond is in love with Corky, and Esmond's cousin Gertrude with Corky's brother, but the aunts have forbidden both unions. And, as if that were not enough, Gusse arrives in person pretending to be Bertie. There is only one person who can save Bertie from a fate worse than death - so naturally, Jeeves materializes at Deverill pretending to be someone else. All quite clear?
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