Jeeves, Wooster, and the well-placed lie

Carry on, Jeeves (Jeeves, #3)Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wodehouse is a brilliant writer, easy to read without being dumbed down; his writing just flows. He’s got the classic understated British sense of humor, put on display here as he assumes the voice of foppish aristocrat Bertie Wooster for nine of the stories and then that of the ultimate valet Jeeves for the last.

Bertie and his friends live in a world of privilege paid for by old money and rich aunts and uncles. Jeeves is the servant who brings Bertie’s problems (and those of his friends) to happy resolutions.

One recurring part of the solution in these stories is the well-placed lie. It makes me think a bit about what Wodehouse’s goal was in the Jeeves and Wooster stories. If it was just light-hearted fun, then he’s achieved it, but just making lying funny makes me more than a bit uncomfortable.

I think part of it is also satirizing the life of the British upper class. One of the biggest calamities that can happen to a character in these stories is the loss of one’s allowance from the rich aunt or uncle. There’s also the time that Bertie has to move out of his apartment, living in a hotel without Jeeves at his beck and call, and believes that he can now sympathize with the poor who don’t have people to tie their ties for them. Or there’s the story written from Jeeves’ point of view that reveals him to be, as he might say, not a little conscious of his own interests in performing his duties. I think that there’s more going on than just funny stories and gullible characters.

Anyway, I want to find out more about Wodehouse’s goal in writing the Jeeves and Wooster series.

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