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William Tell Told Again (1904)

de P. G. Wodehouse

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Friesshardt and Leuthold lay on the ground beside the pole, feeling very sore and bruised, and thought that perhaps, on the whole, they had better stay there. There was no knowing what the crowd might do after this, if they began to fight again. So they lay on the ground and made no attempt to interfere with the popular rejoicings. What they wanted, as Arnold of Sewa might have said if he had been there, was a few moments' complete rest. Leuthold's helmet had been hammered with sticks until it was over his eyes and all out of shape, and Friesshardt's was very little better.… (mais)
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Exibindo 4 de 4
By 1904, the young P.G. Wodehouse was doing relatively well as a journalist and as an author of public-school stories for boys' magazines, but he was still far from established and was happy to take on anything that promised to pay well. His sole children's book, William Tell told again, clearly falls into this category. It was a kind of Pickwick Papers project: the publisher had already commissioned the illustrations from Kate Greenaway's nephew, Philip Dadd, some years before, but they needed a text go with them, and they obviously wanted to get the book out quickly to benefit from interest in the subject due to the centenary of the Schiller play.

Wodehouse obliged with a short, flippant retelling of the story cribbed directly from Schiller (presumably a translation, as he didn't speak German). The only entirely original part is the opening, where he condenses everything that takes up Schiller's Acts I and II into a scene where a delegation of concerned citizens visit Gessler to ask him to reduce their tax burden: he sends them packing with a comically trivial bit of torture. We might have our doubts about whether comic torture belongs in a children's book, but then again, the whole story is "don't try this at home" territory. At least two of Wodehouse's later adult books have scenes where small boys get into trouble for attempting to re-enact Tell's apple shot (in one case the Empress is asked to play the part of Tell jr.).

Where Wodehouse really enjoys himself is the scene with the two men-at-arms, which is turned into something like a London crowd jostling a couple of nervous policemen, with some of Schiller's best lines re-used in clever ways. He doesn't bother with the hollow way scene, but borrows Rossini's ending instead, having Tell shoot Gessler in the boat, directly after his leap ashore. As the pictures were done first, it's not always clear who was responsible for the line the narrative takes, of course: Dadd probably had more to do with it than Wodehouse.

Most Wodehouse biographers are rather snooty about this book, if they mention it at all (David Jasen: "If nothing else the book must have been a sore disappointment to boys who bought it in expectation of another familiar school story."). That's probably a bit unfair, and might be largely because it was very difficult to get hold of before it was digitised by Project Gutenberg. It's not great literature, but it's no worse than all the other things Wodehouse was doing to earn money at the time, and it's conscientiously executed with quite a few good jokes. ( )
1 vote thorold | Oct 18, 2020 |
Endeariŋ, humorous retelliŋ of the legend ( )
  leandrod | Feb 10, 2015 |
First released in 1904, this was P. G. Wodehouse’s fifth publication. His first four books are set in an all-boys’ school, whereas this is a complete departure, mixing historical fiction, humour, and child fiction.

I almost avoided this tale with it being aimed at children, but after reading a few reviews by adults I thought I’d give it a go. It’s not bad and makes a change whilst featuring elements of what would become Mr Wodehouse’s unique writing style. ( )
  PhilSyphe | May 4, 2014 |
Very disappointing and really rather fatuous. Not at all what I have come to expect from the Master. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Oct 2, 2010 |
Exibindo 4 de 4
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
P. G. Wodehouseautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Dadd, PhilipIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Houghton, John W.Contribuinteautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Friesshardt and Leuthold lay on the ground beside the pole, feeling very sore and bruised, and thought that perhaps, on the whole, they had better stay there. There was no knowing what the crowd might do after this, if they began to fight again. So they lay on the ground and made no attempt to interfere with the popular rejoicings. What they wanted, as Arnold of Sewa might have said if he had been there, was a few moments' complete rest. Leuthold's helmet had been hammered with sticks until it was over his eyes and all out of shape, and Friesshardt's was very little better.

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