Wodehouse - Who`s your favourite character ?

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

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Wodehouse - Who`s your favourite character ?

Out 4, 2006, 4:27 pm

Everyone must have their favourite Wodehouse character. Maybe you can learn something about people from who theirs is ? One of my favourites (two strictly) are good old Duke Whatever-it-s and his prize pig The Empress.

I also like Boko Fittleworth, but that`s chiefly for the name alone.

Out 22, 2006, 7:15 pm

Gussie Finknottle is a contender for best name. I love Eukridge. I agree that Lord Emsworth and the Empress are absolutely wonderful.

Out 23, 2006, 4:08 am

Refresh my memory - Eukridge ?

Editado: Nov 21, 2006, 1:17 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Nov 21, 2006, 5:28 pm

Thanks 4042albert! I should have looked it up. I am currently working my way through the golf stories. Love the narrator, the 'oldest member'.

Nov 22, 2006, 4:45 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Nov 22, 2006, 4:45 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Nov 22, 2006, 4:47 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Editado: Nov 22, 2006, 7:57 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Editado: Nov 22, 2006, 9:54 am

Returning to the matter in hand, my wife`s favourite Wodehouse character is Gussie Fink-Nottle. She likes him because there is a quality of being `Fink-Nottle-ish`, which she feels he embodies, partly because of his fondness for newts.

She takes a dim view of the replacement of the actor who portrayed Fink-Nottle in the Fry and Laurie TV series. The second actor was insufficiently Fink-Nottleish, apparently. She asked me to make this clear - she doesn`t like to mix and match her Fink-Nottles.

Nov 22, 2006, 7:20 pm

My favourite character is definitely Jeeves. He's so clever, so educated and yet so mysterious. How did he become so well-read?Why does he work for Bertie? Why isn't he a diplomat, or a secret agent? What exactly goes on at his club? What does he look like?

Nov 23, 2006, 5:43 pm

I imagine Jeeves` club to be a deeply irreverent institution. You know about the club book, of course ?

Nov 23, 2006, 5:57 pm

The book where the gentleman's gentlemen record the various scrapes their gentlemen get into? I've often wished Wodehouse had 'published' it: Jeeves' frank observations on Bertie's ridiculous antics would be priceless!

Nov 23, 2006, 11:22 pm

How about D'Arcy "Stilton" Cheesewright?

He is the country bobby at Steeple Bumpleigh in 'Joy in the Morning'. He bicycles his beat and bathes in the river - which allows Jeeves to steal his uniform for Bertie so that he can go dressed as a policeman to a fancy dress ball. Although he has a rich uncle prepared to finance him into Parliament the clod Stilton stubbornly insists on starting on the bottom rung of the police force and lifting himself up by his bootlaces. He is engaged to Florence Craye and becomes insanely jealous when he learns that Bertie was also once engaged to her. I can't remember why but Bertie somehow gets himself engaged to her a second time in this novel - while trying to help out his old buddy Boko Fittleworth (who has also been engaged to her) - and that only makes Stilton angrier still. The rest of the novel is driven, amongst other sub-plots, by Bertie's attempt to disengage himself again. Finally, it is (as always) Jeeves to the rescue.

Stilton also appears in 'Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit' but he is no longer a policeman and he's now in London. Bertie has grown a moustache of which Jeeves disapproves, but Florence Craye likes it a lot, which infuriates Stilton who is still engaged to her (or maybe that should be is re-engaged to her?). So Florence orders Stilton to grow a moustache too which drives him insane and, in his intense jealousy, he desperately wants to beat up Bertie. Fortunately (for Bertie) Stilton has drawn Bertie's ticket in the Drones Club Darts Tournament sweep and Bertie is one of the favorites to win, so Stilton has to reluctantly temper his hatred for awhile since he doesn't want his man throwing darts as a cripple. As with all Wodehouse novels that's just the beginning and the plot gets much thicker from this point out!

15HouseholdOpera Primeira Mensagem
Dez 11, 2006, 8:32 pm

I'm also very partial to Jeeves. I've only read one of the Psmith books so far (Leave it to Psmith), but Psmith is also a contender for favorite character. (I love the bit where he appropriates someone else's umbrella and then claims it was "merely practical Socialism.")

And if we're going by names alone: Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, the mere mention of whose name is enough to make me laugh.

Dez 11, 2006, 8:56 pm

Bertie's aunt Dahlia. She has no illusions about Bertie (IWRR she calls him a "spineless invertebrate" when he declines to carry out one of her reckless schemes) but has the really massive heart needed to care endlessly for Bertie, her husband Tom Travers, all the horses in the world and Anatole, the Travers's cook. Her rivalry with Jane Snettisham alone would stock a series.

17nick.wiebe Primeira Mensagem
Jan 15, 2007, 4:47 am

I'm partial to Uncle Fred, myself. I love the idea of "spreading sweetness and light", and the bit about lorniettes in "Uncle Fred in the Springtime" is just wonderful.

Jan 24, 2007, 7:10 pm

I have been sick recently, and found that the only reading I could 'stomach' was the master. I only had a few of his books at home, having lent several to a friend, so ended up re-reading heaps of the Bertie and Jeeves. "I pronged a moody forkful of eggs & b." "she had a laugh like a cavalry squadron galloping over a tin bridge". "What ho, reptile". Just wonderful!

Jan 26, 2007, 10:21 pm

>18 akenned5:

Actually, akenned5, there's an unwritten rule somewhere that states that you are only allowed to read Wodehouse if you are sick in bed or incarcerated in jail. Plum was actually quite perplexed by the fact that almost all his readership was comprised of invalids and jailbirds.

For his thoughts on this topic read the quote I posted in message #3 on this thread. Unfortunately some idiot later posted on that thread about Mein Kampf and it took off in a completely different direction! When that sort of thing happens, what can you do? :(

Jan 28, 2007, 10:06 pm

What a gorgeous quote from Plum. But I consider the unwritten rule a little harsh on the robust, hale and hearty, who are doomed to miss out on one of life's greatest pleasures unless they commit felony (and get caught).

This also reminds me of a book I read a couple of years ago about the development of the OED. One of its most prolific amateur contributors always declined to participate in any gatherings and celebrations. When the editor finally got an opportunity to visit him in person, it turned out he was more or less permanently incarcerated in a home for the criminally insane, having committed a murder years earlier during a psychotic episode.

Fev 3, 2007, 7:55 pm

If truth be known, one could fill a book larger than an anthology of Jeeves and Wooster stories with gorgeous quotes from Wodehouse. When one thinks of masters of quick repartee, funny one liners and bon mots the names that immediately come to mind are such wags and wits as Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, or Woody Allen. However, not many people realize that Plum can more than hold his own with any of these comedic icons.

One of my favorite Wodehouse quotes was made by him at the very start of his preface to the novel Summer Lightning. The opening paragraph of this preface goes as follows:

"A certain critic - for such men, I regret to say, do exist - made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained 'all the old Wodehouse characters under different names'. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy."

Wodehouse did not achieve the great heights of his literary craft by such common writing pyrotechnics as frequently focusing on titillating subject matter (that is bizarre, grotesque, absurd, fantastic or otherwise uncommon) or by repeatedly flirting with contentious material (that expounds lascivious, heretic, deviant, or dissident ideas). Rather, Wodehouse's literary genius lies intrinsically in his unique ability to combine prolific flawless diction with fastidious sitcom plotting.

If the only thing that keeps you interested as a reader is the pace and diversity of the narrative action then you probably won't enjoy Wodehouse very much. Plum's clever writing skill lies in the fact that he can tell the same handful of basic stories over and over and over again - and, yes, many of his characters are indeed almost interchangeable - and yet he can still make it an uniquely interesting and funny journey EVERY time. IMO, that actually requires a much greater writing ability than merely executing yet another suspenseful plot - or political intrigue, or religious controversy, or romantic connection, or mysterious crime to solve. Because it requires exquisite verbal dexterity.

I think it was Gustave Flaubert that at some point in his life aspired to write a novel about absolutely nothing. To some extent, Wodehouse manages to achieve Flaubert's aspiration with the vast majority of his output. Like Flaubert, James Joyce is also considered to be a connoisseur of the mot juste; both of these authors were punctilious and scrupulous in their writing and spent excruciating effort refining their written output in order to finally come up with exactly the correct and precise turn of phrase that captured the force, accuracy, distinction and nuances of what they wished to express.

In choosing the precise turn of phrase for any given situation Wodehouse is every bit the virtuoso of diction as Flaubert and Joyce. Yet, in comparison, finding the mot juste appears relatively effortless for Plum. He seems to have spent more time sweating the details of his complexly contrived farcical plots; to the point that they are seamless and the reader is left virtually unaware exactly how complex and contrived the underlying plots really are.

If scrupulous devotion to their literary art and style makes Flaubert and Joyce giants of their respective genres, then how much more of a Leviathan of literary craft is Wodehouse for whom verbal dexterity was more of an "innate flow" and less of the "sweated labor" it appears to have been for those other two.

Abr 30, 2008, 5:36 pm

Of course, Jeeves has to be number one. But I'm also so fond of Tuppy Glossop- such a horrible little fiend...

Jul 20, 2008, 11:09 pm

Well, I'm not in jail, but I must confess to being a slight invalid, but mostly I've been feeling a little blue this summer so I've turned to Wodehouse and he has been such a blessing. I read some of his books many years ago, watched Laurie and Fry's tv show naturally, but it's wonderful to revisit the stories again.

I'm enjoying the comments and insights here too tremendously. Rule42, you are a fount of knowledge re: Plum! I'm listening to the Jeeves and Wooster stories right now read by Jonathan Cecil, but want to go on and read everything else Wodehouse wrote. Other than Jeeves I've only read A Pelican at Blandings and Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin so I'm tickled that I have lots to look forward to.

As I am such a novice, at this point I would have to say that Bertie is my favourite character. He's such a sweet natured goof, always wanting to help out his friends, hardly ever getting angry (or at least staying angry), he's not a snob, and he treats Jeeves with the respect Jeeves so truly deserves.

Editado: Jul 21, 2008, 3:58 am

>23 katylit:
Wow - what a lot you've still got to discover! Pearls, girls and Monty Bodkin and A Pelican at Blandings are late works, and not really his best - there's a lot to be said for going back to the thirties, when he was at the very top of his form. The luck of the Bodkins (to which PG&MB is a sort of sequel) has always been one of my favourites, and there's a lot to be said for earlier Blandings novels like Summer lightning and Heavy weather too. Or non-series novels from that era like Hot water or Money in the bank(*).

A word of caution for invalids/jailbirds: I had a week in hospital recently, and found that I had to keep a very watchful eye on my bedside cabinet, because one of the nurses was an avid Wodehouse fan. But it is certainly true that out of all the books that helpful friends brought along, the Wodehouse books were the ones I read first.

ETA:(*) Money in the bank was, of course, written in jail, while Wodehouse was being interned by the Germans.

Jul 21, 2008, 12:08 pm

Thanks very much for the suggestions thorold. There are so many books to choose from it's hard to know where to start so I really appreciate a starting point! I'll be placing an order with Amazon today. Unfortunately my local bookstores don't seem to carry Wodehouse - I scolded them appropriately on Saturday ;-)

Jul 21, 2008, 12:50 pm

Have fun! - Maybe you'd better try the library as well: if you get hooked it could turn out expensive :-)

BTW: I didn't notice before that you're in Canada - maybe you would also be interested in Leave it to Psmith, another early Blandings novel where Canadian poet Ralston McTodd, the Singer of Saskatoon, plays an important part.

Jul 21, 2008, 4:30 pm

>25 katylit:

"Unfortunately my local bookstores don't seem to carry Wodehouse ..."

Bookstore Manager: "You're the 25th person I've told this to today, ma'am. We don't carry any Wodehouse on our shelves because I'm afraid there's no demand for him."

Jul 22, 2008, 2:25 pm

#27 LOL!! My favourite used bookstore dealer here locally told me that he can't keep Wodehouse books in stock 'cause they're so popular.

That's a great quote :-D

#26, yes, I'm thinking starting to collect Wodehouse will be an expensive habit. But I can go slow. That's interesting to know about Leave it to Psmith. Nice of Wodehouse to include a "colonial" ;-)

Editado: Jul 22, 2008, 6:49 pm

>27 PlumCrazy: & 28

Although you may not believe this, it is an authentic quote that was actually said to me in my local Borders bookstore - although I confess I did embellish it a little bit in my post.

It may have been just a regular store clerk rather than the store manager that I conversed with that day; the author wasn't Wodehouse (but a popular literary author that the store most certainly should have carried, although I can no longer recall who it was I was asking about now); the ordinal number stated was not quite as high as 25 (he may have only said "third"); and I don't believe he addressed me as "ma'am" (but since I don't remember which dress I was wearing that day, he may well have done! :( ).

Nevertheless, the spirit of the quote is quite genuine and the store clerk/manager did not appear to understand the contradiction intrinsic in what he was saying. Either that, or he had missed his true vocation as a dead pan comedian.

Jul 26, 2008, 7:16 pm

>26 thorold:

"Canadian poet Ralston McTodd, the Singer of Saskatoon"

This Ralston McTodd should not be confused with the famous Canadian arsonist of the same name who, funnily enough, was also known as the Singer of Saskatoon. Small world, huh?

Ago 17, 2008, 7:59 pm

I am also a big fan of Aunt Dahlia. She is my ongoing favorite from the Jeeves books.

My problem is that I can never remember the characters' names later, even though they make me laugh out loud when I read them. I dream of having a complete list of Wodehouse characters -- series stars and ad hocs -- available for easy reference. Also a list of place names, which are just as funny.

Does anyone know of such a compendium? A web site by PGW's greatest fan, heir, or foundation? Anything like that?

Ago 17, 2008, 8:24 pm

>31 RoseCityReader:

Track down the book Plum Sauce by Richard Usborne (ISBN: 9781585674411). That should meet most of your needs. There are others, but as the most recently one published (actually that should be republished!) by Overlook Press as a companion volume to its associated The Collector's Wodehouse series, it should be the easiest one to lay your hands on.

Ago 18, 2008, 4:34 am

There's also Who's who in Wodehouse (touchstone won't work - try http://www.librarything.com/work/270165/book/14791786 ) by Prof. Daniel Garrison, which does exactly what you want, but you'll have to track it down secondhand. I find it a very handy reference: it lists just about every named character with a brief summary of who they are and which stories they appear in. It does have a few little errors in it, but nothing fundamental.

A very good internet resource is Terry Mordue's site: http://www.terry-mordue.co.uk/Wodehouse/index.php - there's a wealth of information there about characters, publication dates, and annotations explaining a lot of the more obscure references and allusions in the text.

Ago 18, 2008, 2:37 pm

Great stuff! Thanks!!!!

Ago 22, 2008, 12:32 pm

I find it interesting that no one has listed any of the females in the group (except Aunt Dahlia). Maybe none are favorite characters, but Wodehouse did nail down certain female types unbelievably well. Madeline Bassett (she of the "stars are God's daisy chain" quote) has come to mind more often when I've met people than most other literary characters.

Ago 22, 2008, 3:31 pm

The Wodehouse girl heroine type - the various Jills, Annes and Sallys - is a bit too good to be true: but two that do stick in my mind are Jane Hubbard with the elephant gun (The girl on the boat) and Elsie Bean the feisty housemaid in Uncle Dynamite.

Nov 16, 2008, 1:43 am

>23 katylit:
Like katylit, I'm pretty much a Wodehouse novice. I started reading the Jeeves & Wooster books last month and I've made it through most of the short stories and a few of the novels. (I also read Summer Lightning to see what the Blandings stories were like.) They really do help whenever I'm feeling down or nervous about the future.

Also like katylit, my favorite character is Bertie by a mile. He's got a great sense of humor and he's such a sweet pushover. I also (and maybe this is heresy?) don't believe he's a twit or 'mentally negligible.' He has a tendency to overextend himself and get into scrapes, but I think if I had to deal with the amount of loonies, eccentrics, and lovebirds in his life, I'd create as many disasters!

Dez 26, 2008, 3:19 am

I am partial to Beach the butler. Mr. Beach was too well bred to be inquisitive, but his eyebrows were not. when Beach is disposed otherwise, my attention is taken up by the Efficient Baxter.

Jan 10, 2009, 3:22 am

After Bertie, Lord Emsworth. His blithe indifference to everything but Empress of Blandings, and some semblance of order in the routine of his household, is sublime -- and in its own way an inspiration.

Jan 10, 2009, 4:33 pm

yes, L Emsworth seems to have the ideal life. he handles the harridans of his life with sprezzatura. we should all be so blessed.

Jan 10, 2009, 5:34 pm

>40 Porius:: Had to look that up; you've added to my vocabulary. My Italian doesn't extend much past pasta.

People often think that Wodehouse's stories bear no relation to the real world. Wodehouse encouraged that perception, but it is not as true as might appear on the surface. E.g., in Emsworth Wodehouse has exaggeraed -- to wonderful comic effect -- a trait of sprezzatura to which the English upper crust has long aspired and much admires.

Jan 10, 2009, 6:12 pm

how could this bit not be coonected to real life:
Cold is the ogre which drives all beautiful things into hiding. Below the surface of afrost-bound garden there lurk hidden bulbs which are only biding their time to burst forth in a riot of laughing color (unless the gardener has planted them upside down) but shivering Nature dare not put forth her flowers till the ogre has gone. Not otherwise does cold supress love. A man in an open cart on an English Spring night may continue to be in love, but love is not the emotion uppermost in his bosom. It shrinks within him and waits for better times.
you are correct, sir, it doesn't get realer than this.

Jan 11, 2009, 12:09 am

I am relatively new to the Blandings series, having started Something Fresh this week. Already I am enjoying dottery Lord Emsworth :)

Jan 11, 2009, 1:38 am

Life at Blandings.
I have often felt that life at B must have been a very pleasant affair, if not for Lord E and his pig, at any rate for visitors to the castle. Plenty of ridin', shootin' & fishin' for these sportively inclined, & the browsing & the sluicing of course beyond criticism. I have always refrained from describing the meals there, not wishing to make my readers' mouths water excessively, but I can now divulge that they were of the best & rendered all the more toothsome by being presided over by butler Beach, who also never failed to bring the tray of beverages into the drawing-room at 9.30.
The one thing that might be considered to militate against the peace of life at Blandings was the constant incursion of imposters. B had imposters the way other houses have mice. I have recorded so far the activities of 6 of them, & no doubt more to come.
I am not certain who is the Empress's pig man now that La Simmons has left. I may be wrong, but I have a sort of idea that he will tirn out to be the latest of that long line of imposters. It is about time that another was coming along. Without at least one imposter on the premises, Blandings Castle is never itself.
Wodehouse on Wodehouse is almost as good as Wodehouse.

Jan 11, 2009, 4:05 am

>43 digifish_books:: Something Fresh, Summer Lightning, and Heavy Weather are three of the very best of the Blandings Castle stories.

Jun 11, 2009, 4:39 pm

Can't believe there's only one vote for Uncle Fred! Uncle Fred in the Springtime and Cocktail Time are delightful appearances by the irreverant peer. I've been meaning to get my hands on Young Men in Spats which apparently contains the first appearance of Uncle Fred.

Jun 11, 2009, 5:09 pm

> I've been meaning to get my hands on Young Men in Spats

(I'm sure there's a double-entendre there somewhere - where's Rule42 when you need him?)

You must - it's a great collection - the UK version slightly better than the US, but there's not much in it - the story "Uncle Fred flits by" is in both UK and US versions and is definitely one of the best Wodehouse short stories (many would say it's the best) .

Ago 23, 2009, 11:57 pm

Sorry, thorold, but I no longer do double-entendres. In these recessive times it takes me all my time just to do puns and malapropisms. :(

Jan 17, 2010, 7:21 pm

>35 NellieMc:: and let's not forget the wonderful Bobbie Wickham!

Abr 6, 2010, 12:59 am

Jeeves Jeeves Jeeves.

Abr 6, 2010, 3:59 am

Reading this thread, it seems to me that there was a shift in Wodehouse's characters as he matured as a writer. His earlier books seem to be full of feisty and competent young women. They'd look you in the eye and display a 'resolute little chin'.

I'm never very convinced by these girls (a non-PC expression , I know - but it fits the period!) and they do tend to fade out in the later, mature books, where they're replaced by women who are 'characters', or even caricatures e.g. Madeleine Bassett, Stiffy Byng and Aunts Dahlia and Agatha.

I suspect it was a matter of Wodehouse discovering his limitations.

Abr 6, 2010, 7:12 am

>51 willgrstevens:
The examples you mention are all from Jeeves novels, where Wodehouse had to make sure that none of the eligible females could be considered (except by themselves and their jealous boyfriends) as a suitable bride for Bertie. I think the "Wodehouse Girl" actually did keep on reappearing all through the canon, in the non-Jeeves books. Think about characters like Jill in Do butlers burgle banks? or Sally in The Ice in the bedroom. But I agree that he stopped making them main viewpoint characters as they were in Jill the reckless, The adventures of Sally, A Damsel in Distress, etc.

Abr 6, 2010, 7:28 am

> 52 Yes - fair comment.

Abr 6, 2010, 7:37 am

On the subject of feisty young women, I suppose one of my favourites is Gladys, the Cockney kid in 'Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend', who fell foul of McAllister, the Blandings head gardener, but 'copped 'im on the shin wiv a stone, and 'e stopped to rub it, and I come away'.

Maio 12, 2010, 10:33 am

Uncle Fred, of course followed by Bertie and Jeeves. The later two can't be separated.
What would Jeeves have been without Bertie or vice versa!

Editado: Maio 28, 2010, 1:47 pm

My favorite by far is Psmith (the p is silent as in pshrimp) because of his unflappability, his casual self-assurance, bordering on narcissism, especially in dealing with the opposite sex, and his gift of the gab. He had me at the umbrella snatching episode in Leave It to Psmith and his stock just went up and up from there. If I were 18 again and looking for a role model, I would learn to talk, act and, most importantly, think like Psmith.

George Bevan of A Damsel in Distress fame is a distant second. He is somewhat of an opposite to Psmith and comes across as a bit of a pushover. But his mild manners, integrity and old-fashioned romanticism are rewarded in the end, proving that there is more than one way to skin an adorable, headstrong female interest.

Jun 4, 2010, 7:51 am

My favorite would be Bertie Wooster. He's such a poor chap who always gets involved in problems while tryin to help others. Uncle Fred would be the next one followed by Gussie.

Mar 2, 2011, 9:35 pm

Lord Uffenham by a country mile!

Ago 16, 2011, 1:23 pm

Aww.. I think Bertie will always be my favorite, for so many reasons. I also have a soft spot for Uncle Gally :)

Set 1, 2013, 5:09 pm

Galahad will probably always be my favorite, though Lord Emsworth is a close second. I do love Bertie, but the Blandings books introduced me to the world of Wodehouse, and Galahad quickly became my first love among his characters.

Dez 11, 2017, 3:57 pm

I actually like Wodehouse's school stories the best, so Mike and Psmith & co. are favourites; I like Mike's earnest straight man character.

>44 Porius: As you say, Pelham Grenville was up there with the best of his characters.

Editado: Jan 2, 2022, 4:53 am

Bertie Wooster, Jeeves, and Bingo Little, with the caveat that I haven't read anything by Wodehouse except the Jeeves stories.

Edited to add: And how could i forget Gussie Fink Nottle.

Jan 5, 2022, 4:05 pm

Uncle Fred in Uncle Fred Flits By.

Jan 5, 2022, 7:32 pm

So many . . . Bertie, Jeeves, Aunt Agatha, Aunt Dahlia . . .

Ago 12, 2022, 1:06 am

The Earl of Emsworth, for sure! The Blandings Castle books are by far his best work.