Rereadings: The Inimitable Jeeves

May 21, 2010 at 12:00 am 4 comments

At some point in high school, I concurrently discovered Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and my mother’s heretofore primarily unexplored bookshelves. This was an exceedingly fortunate series of events since my mother is the proud owner of a “Jeeves and Wooster” compendium which I, spurred on by my new-found love of the Fry and Laurie portrayals of those very characters, proceeded to make off with. And I had a grand old time with that hulking compendium! I happily lugged it to and from school, reading about the Wooster and friends hijinks at every available opportunity.

Since reading all the stories in the compendium, I continued to enjoy the Fry and Laurie version but never again read the stories. I recalled them fondly but without much fervor and, I’m sorry to say, they did not even merit a place on my list of books I wanted to reread. Fortunately, one day not so long ago, a friend of mine came back from lunch and unexpectedly gave me a copy of The Inimitable Jeeves for no other reason than she thought I might enjoy it. (Have I mentioned lately how much I adore random book gifts? Because I really do.) I immediately dived in and discovered that “you might enjoy it” was a bit of an understatement.

In my opinion, there are few things as springy as Wodehouse’s prose and fewer things still as utterly silly as Bertie Wooster’s vocabulary. Combine those two factors and reading any “Jeeves and Wooster” story becomes a very light, exceedingly fun experience. Rereading them proved equally enjoyable as there are many books I enjoy, but not many which prove to be so simply “fun” as Wodehouse’s stories. They are the perfect stories to inaugurate spring or summer with and I highly recommend doing so at your earliest opportunity.

That said, my rereading proved to be much like my initial reading: I enjoyed reading the stories very much, liked them and the characters tremendously, laughed aloud a few times, and learned some new 1920s slang, but in the end came away pleased, but by no means wowed. For whatever reason, however much I enjoyed the stories while reading them, I never come away thrilled or in love. I think it may be because they are so light and fun. They are pretty much in no way weighty, so when you come to the end, the memory of them just pleasantly floats away. I can think of absolutely nothing disagreeable or unpleasant about any of the stories and yet I still cannot rave about them either.

So this rereading proved a bit like eating cotton candy: it was fun while it lasted, but I was immediately book-hungry again. All the same, Wodehouse is absolutely perfect for a beautiful spring day in the park and, as I’ve said, his stories are about as much fun as you can have reading. In the words of Stephen Fry, “You don’t analyse such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour.” And momentarily basking in The Inimitable Jeeves is a bally corking idea.



Entry filed under: Classics, Rereadings. Tags: , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. KT  |  May 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I have been meaning to read this for a long time now — I may have to find this at The Community Library :D

    • 2. Corey  |  May 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      Perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Community Library! And it’ll be a happy, pleasant book to settle into the new digs with. : )

  • 3. Natalie  |  May 23, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I love the TV show and have been wondering about the books, Sounds like they’d be good candidates next time I need some really (really) light reading.

    • 4. Corey  |  May 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      It’s super-light but also super-enjoyable. I actually laughed out loud on occasion at Bertie’s nonsensical vocabulary!


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