I have been on a bit of a Wodehouse binge for the last couple of days. Part of the reason for this is that I have been reading P G Wodehouse : A Life in Letters and falling ever more in love with this charming, genial, incredible genius of a man.
I always thought he was a brilliant writer, but it was when I read Performing Flea...an exchange of letters between him and Bill Townend who was a close friend of his from the time they were in school together…that I began to truly appreciate the man.
Townend was a writer too and most of the letters are about the art and craft of writing, characters, plot development, language and the creative process. But there is a lot of Wodehouse the man, there as well and as I read that book, I found that I liked and admired him probably more than any other writer and definitely more than most people I know.
So reading this book has brought on a lot of nostalgia. That combined with the fact that I have recently acquired several of Wodehouse’s earliest books…the ones written before 1923; they are all past copyright and in the public domain now…has led me on a binge. I am reading all of Wodehouse’s school stories.
I began withTales of St Austins which I hadn’t read before and then I read Mike at Wrykyn, over three sleepless hours last night and now I’m five chapters into Mike and Psmith. Both of these are books that I have read before, but that does not in way diminish my enjoyment of them now.
Mike is likeable anyway, but Psmith is a wonderful character. Everyone talks of Jeeves and Wooster, but Psmith is by far my favourite Wodehouse character. He is intelligent and quirky, witty and irreverent and quite mad, while somehow also being a good person and a loyal friend. The more I read about him, the more fascinating I find him.
I think the best thing you can say about a fictional character is that you wish that person were real and that he or she was your friend. Well, I wish Psmith was my friend…