Queries

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

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Queries

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1FelixQuiPotuit
Mar 24, 2007, 10:18 pm

"And Stilton, of course, as I have already indicated, is a chap who could give Othello a couple of bisques and be dormy one at the eighteenth." (From chapter 2 of Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit.)

OK: 'bisques,' 'dormy one' and 'eighteenth' -- with the help of the OED -- seem to indicate giving your golf opponent a few strokes and still being up one at the end of the round... but what in heaven's name is Othello doing here? Can anyone enlighten me?

2thorold
Abr 19, 2007, 6:33 pm

Othello is the benchmark standard of jealousy; Bertie considers that Stilton, who thinks Bertie wants to steal Florence from him, is even more jealous than Othello.

3FelixQuiPotuit
Abr 21, 2007, 10:04 pm

Well of course -- it wasn't the nature of Othello's character that puzzled me, but what in the world he's doing on PGW's metaphorical golf course. No doubt it's the incongruous combination that's supposed to be funny, but this one falls flat for me. One of the perils of reading 20th-century humour, I suppose.

4Windy
Abr 24, 2007, 12:16 pm

What makes it so funny for me is that he equates the trivial nuisances of his own life to the enormous sufferings of Othello. A grown man with the inflated self regard of a toddler.

5thorold
Abr 24, 2007, 3:04 pm

Most of the joke, for me, is in the ludicrous over-specificity of the golf references. But there's no rule that says we have to enjoy the same jokes!

Bertie could have conveyed exactly the same information about Stilton by saying "Stilton is more jealous than Othello", but that would just have been a cliché. If he'd said something like "If you could measure jealousy in terms of golf performance, Stilton would beat Othello", it would have been strange, and would have told us a bit about Bertie's view of life. But it's not especially funny. Where it becomes pure Wodehouse is in the extra, totally unnecessary details ("bisque", "dormy one"), which push it over the edge from contrived to hilarious.

I think it tells us something about Bertie's character, too: even if you weren't familiar with the Jeeves stories, this one sentence would give you a picture of Bertie as someone who thinks things out carefully for himself, but comes to his own bizarre conclusions. And he does all this in 29 words, if I counted right...

Windy: surely it's Stilton who is enduring the sufferings of Othello? -- Bertie is casting himself as Cassio. And nobody ever felt sorry for him at the end of the play!