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Old October 24th, 2010, 01:32 PM   #11

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

Originally Posted by Pedro View Post
Speaking of naive. Can you imagine this story passing a modern editor's indigination where early in the story they stop the car to pick up a 12 year old school girl? And a stranger to boot. Maybe the times back then weren't really so innocent but is was a comfortable fiction for us to believe it was.

"I say, Jeeves, its a strange thing. Do you know, I've never been inside a girl's school in my life?"
"Indeed, sir?"
"Ought to be a dashed interesting experience, Jeeves, don't you think?"
"I imagine that you may find it so, sir." ...

Indeed, sir!
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Old October 24th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #12

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

Postscript to biography of P.G.

There was a consideration to acknowledge Plum's accomplishments and services to his native land with a knighthood, but several things stood in the way. There were still ill feelings about his broadcasts in what some viewed as the service of the Nazi regime. After the war there was also reluctance to encourage his view of the aristocracy as being less than bright. From the FCO 57/278 - Official Government Document Release on Why Wodehouse was Refused a Knighthood.

According to the Standard, the file reveals “the depth of anger over Wodehouse’s broadcasts, one of which suggested that Britain might not win the war. Politicians were also reluctant to give an award to the man who wrote 100 novels, 30 plays and 20 screenplays after he took American citizenship.”

A 1971 memo on the file said that four years earlier the then British Ambassador to Washington felt that an honour to Wodehouse “would revive the controversy of his wartime behavior and would also give currency to a Bertie Wooster image of the British character which they were doing their best to eradicate”.

Wodehouse was eventually given an honorary knighthood in 1975, a few weeks before his death at the age of 93.

Ethyl and Plum didn’t have children by their union, but they did have a fondness for animals particularly dogs. They sponsored a shelter for stray dogs and cats in their adopted home America.

4. Works

During his 73 year long career, Plum wrote 96 books, more than one a year over his lifetime, as well as collaborating on scripts and lyrics for movies and musical comedies. This is a brief introduction to his most famous of his books and short stories.

Jeeves and Wooster

One of the most lasting of his creations was the duo of Bertram (Bertie) Wilberforce ( his father named his son after a racehorse, not the famous abolitionist) Wooster, a not too bright aristocrat and his valet Reginald Jeeves, an absolute genius. The popularity of this series has been pervasive and long lasting. The pair has been likened to Sherlock Holmes and Watson with a dim bulb and a shining one as a team. Jeeves has become a byword for applied intellect and one of the original internet search engines was called Ask Jeeves ( now Ask.com).

Part of the humor of their interactions is that Jeeves is in control of his employer, manipulating him benevolently behind the scenes often without the knowledge of the clueless Bertie. All of the stories save one, the one that I have chosen for our reading –Bertie Changes His Mind- are told from the point of view of Bertie. In Bertie Changes His Mind, we have the story narrated by Jeeves and follow his deliberate successful attempt to save their bachelor relationship by quashing Bertie’s desire to adopt a young girl.

Bertie is well educated at Eaton and Oxford, but it is Jeeves that is the intellectual reading Spinoza and continually quoting Shakespeare. Wooster is lazy, rarely getting up before 10 AM and inclined to seeking comfort, drink and good food. While a confirmed bachelor, he is always getting engaged to women that he later shudders at contemplating, as they often want to “mold” him with improvements. Bertram is later in the series independently wealthy. He is a member of the Drones Club, a drone being a male bee that doesn’t have to do any work, an apt description of Wilberforce.

Though they are apparently of similar age, I their third decade, Jeeves seems much older and is much wiser. He is fond of his employer and theirs is more of a parent-child relationship that of servant-employer. The manipulations of Jeeves are almost invariably in the direction that he sees most beneficial for his employer. They often clash on matters of taste – ties, socks, hats, garish cummerbunds, and spats in the Eaton colors, and though occasionally Bertie early on asserts his prerogative, the stories invariably end with him bowing to the impeccable tastes of his valet.

The Bertie and Jeeves stories have been adapted to BBC series, a musical, and perhaps were the inspiration for movies ( Arthur ).

The next most popular of Wodehouse’s creations is The Blandings Castle stories, about the upper-class inhabitants of the fictional rural Blandings Castle. Lord Emsworth, depicted as being senile, timid and oppressed by his sister and his employees including his gardener. I have read several of these – Crime wave at Blandings and The Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend and they are quite enjoyable.

There are other series which I haven’t yet read much of including:

The Drones Club stories, concerning members similar to Bertie in background and outlook.

The Golf and Oldest Member stories about the Game.

The Mr Mulliner stories featuring a pub owner with stories to tell.

Psmith stories none of which I have read.

The Ukridge stories, about a man engaged various schemes to make money, usually at the expense of acquaintances and friends –as in Love Among the Chickens.

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Old October 24th, 2010, 05:16 PM   #13

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

And now for the fun part.. Wodehouse funny quotations. I bet that you’ll laugh out loud at some of these!

On being uncomfortable - I quivered like something in aspic.

Spoke – He found speech if you could call the noise like a buffalo pulling it’s foot out of a swamp, speech.

Someone cried out -He made a noise like a wolf who had his big toe caught in a trap.

On being silent - The silent reserve of a stuffed frog

Thirsty – just as my tongue was beginning to stick out and blacken at the roots.

Ate ravenously – tacked into it like a tapework that’s been on a diet for weeks

Description of an unpleasant young boy -Repellent young boll weevil

Some from the Drone’s Club website: He had a pair of shaggy eyebrows which gave his eyes a piercing look which was not at all the sort of thing a fellow wanted to encounter on an empty stomach.

There was a howl of fury which caused the local policeman, who had just been about to turn into the street, to stop and tie his bootlace.

It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.

As a rule, from what I've observed, the American captain of industry doesn't do anything out of business hours. When he has put the cat out and locked up the office for the night, he just relapses into a state of coma from which he emerges only to start being a captain of industry again.

It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.

The lunches of fifty-seven years had caused his chest to slip down to the mezzanine floor.

It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.

"I am rejoiced that my poor effort should have elicited so striking an encomium.''

"Wot say?''

"He says he's glad you liked it.''

He walked as if on air, and the whole soul had obviously expanded, like a bath sponge placed in water.

The cab drew up before a house gay with flowered window-boxes. Lord Emsworth paid the driver, and stood on the sidewalk looking up at this cheerful house, trying to remember why on earth he had told the man to drive here.

That song needs a woman to sing it. A woman who could reach out for that last high note and teach it to take a joke. The whole refrain is working up to that. You need Tetrazzini or someone who would just pick that note off the roof and hold it till the janitor came round to lock up the building for the night.

I don't think I have ever seen a Silver Band so nonplussed. It was as though a bevy of expectant wolves had overtaken a sleigh and found no Russian peasant on board.

I looked at him like a wolf spotting his Russian peasant

He looked like a bishop who has just discovered Schism and Doubt among the minor clergy.

And another collection from the internet.

Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French.

I was sauntering on the river bank with a girl named something that has slipped my mind, when there was a sound of barking and a large hefty dog came galloping up, full of beans and buck and obviously intent on mayhem. And I was just commending my soul to God and feeling that this was where the old flannel trousers got about thirty bobs worth of value bitten out of them, when the girl, waiting till she saw the whites of its eyes, with extraordinary presence of mind opened a coloured Japanese umbrella in the animal's face. Upon which it did three back somersaults and retired into private life.

"I say,'' he said, "my father's missing.''

"On how many cylinders?'' asked Lord Bromborough. He was a man who liked his joke of a morning.

Marriage isn't a process of prolonging the life of love, but of mummifying the corpse.

Barmy went to the door and opened it sharply. There came the unmistakable sound of a barmaid falling downstairs.

Jeeves lugged my purple socks out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of his salad.

I have only two things to say to you, Lord Tilbury. One is that you have ruined a man's life. The other is Pip-pip.

When two strong men stand face to face, each claiming to be Major Brabazon-Plank, it is inevitable that there will be a sense of strain, resulting in a momentary silence.

The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by whatsounded to his strained senses like G. K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin.
-This puzzled my till I looked up that G. K. was a man of very large porportions!

Say what you will, there is something fine about our old aristocracy. I'll bet Trotsky couldn't hit a moving secretary with an egg on a dark night.

Honoria . . . is one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a welter-weight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge.

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Old October 25th, 2010, 01:17 AM   #14

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

Great posts.

There is in fact something rather iffy about an Englishman who manages to spend the war in the Hotel Adlon in Berlin and the Bristol in Paris!

Interesting that people in official circles in Britain in in the 1970s were worried about the image of Britain that Wodehouse was conveying to the world. It is indeed true that quite a lot of people from outside the country do not realize that he was the creator of a fantasy world, and think that his portrayal of the life of the upper classes between the wars bear some close relation to reality. Even to the extent that it does, it relates more to life before the First world War.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 05:21 AM   #15

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

More Wodehouse Quotations from stories:
These and those which will follow are all from the wonderful russian Wodehouse Site, the best that I have fouind on the web.


Golf ... is the infallible test. The man who can go into a
patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and
play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.

'Yes, sir,' said Jeeves in a low, cold voice, as if he had
been bitten in the leg by a personal friend.

'Didn't Frankenstein get married?' 'Did he?' said Eggy. 'I
don't know. I never met him. Harrow man, I expect.'

He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of
them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.

Ice formed on the butler's upper slopes.

It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions
he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary
column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't.

'I hate you, I hate you!' cried Madeline, a thing I didn't
know anyone ever said except in the second act of a musical comedy.

'What does polyandrous mean?'

Bob Milton inquired. He was a Russian whose real name was
Davidoff and a surprisingly short time before he had known no English words at

feast of reason and flow of soul

I may an ass but I'm not a silly ass

good shooter but bad hitter

There wasn't much of her but what there was good.

She overcame the sudden quick desire to strike her nephew
over his fat head with the nearest blunt instrument.

Probably, owing to his prompt measures, the moon had begun
to shine again.

There were so many things, she wanted to say first, that she
had to pause to make selection.

poor human wreck with one foot in the grave and another
sliding towards to

a four-in-the-morning tribute to the pathos of flying years

a voice, presumably mine, said "Yes"

I suppose a not too intelligent moth has much the same views
with regard to the lamp. His last thought as he enters the flame is probably
one of self-congratulation that he has arranged his dealings with it on such a
satisfactory common-sense basis.

I do not know exactly what I expected him to do, but I
certainly did not expect him to do nothing.

... walked slowly, as one, retreated from Moscow.

Her behavior was perfect. There was nothing for her to do
and she was doing it with quiet self-control, which won my admiration.

She gave me the impression of being a woman who wanted a
good deal of the conversation, and who did not care how she got it.

There was a rush and scurry in the corridors of Mr.
Crocker's brain, as about six different thoughts tried to squash simultaneously
into main chamber where there's room for only one in time.

He was feeling hard-headed and practical, yet with a strong
premonition that he was going to make a fool of himself just the same.

She did not intend to abandon a perfectly good suspicion
merely because it began to seem unreasonable.

my opinion of you is a fixed thing

I saw that here was where soothing word was required.

When she wants you to do anything, you find yourself doing

Her face lit up in a tickled-to-death manner.

It was the last thing I would have done, if given the choice.

M. was plainly in jovial mood. He nearly always was and it
was this unfailing euphoria of his that twisted the knife in Mr...'s bosom, he
holding the view that a man who had chiseled his way into Suparba Llevellin
Company as M. has done ought at least to have the decency to behave as if his
conscience were gnawing him.

... but at his announcement the hope curled up and died.

The opposition got me on a technicality what he was
intending to convey, he said, was that the holy state was not a thing that
prudent young men should jump into with a whoop and holler as is there were
going to the Cannes Casino with their pockets full of money, because there were
snags attached to it, which became visible only when it was too late.

Fortunately, I have been able to battle his sinister
schemes, and ere long he's going to look sillier, than he does already.quickness
of whose hand never failed to deceive the eye

His air was that of one who has been wounded by a friend.

Already he was suffering from the aliment known to the
medical profession as heeby-jeebes, and any thing having appearance of a hitch
in the program might lead to a total collapse.

Dolly becoming anatomical, told him what he could do with
his harmless pleasantries. When stirred, she was inclined to become a little

Old fashioned, yes. But it still sells tickets.

In his life intruded only one shadow, but it was a shadow of
considerable proportions.

Greater scorn could hardly have been packed into two

Lady C. left the room, and a deep masculine silence fell.

He had been prepared for imbecility, but this exceeded his


And then, where would he be? In the soup, undoubtedly.

But these words opened out such a vista of attractive
possibilities that he had abandoned this tame program immediately.

I recollect having a refreshing chat with Miss ... but I
cannot recall saying anything calculated to bring the blush of shame to the
cheek of modesty.

It is perhaps ungentlemanly desire to pull that curious
female's leg.

For there were no doubt in his mind that in a world
congested to overflowing with girls she stood alone.

Eve's exasperation increased. She always had a curious fear,
that one of these days if he went on proposing, she might say "Yes"
by mistake.

Eve's eyes opened wider. She had supposed herself incapable
of further astonishment.

I can't adapt circumstances to my will, but I can adapt my
will to these circumstances.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 11:07 AM   #16

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

Cicero, it's very clear that you have grasped this topic and emersed yourself in it ... and enjoyed doing so. Well done and thank you!

Question: I agree with Linschoten's observation that the world of Jeeves and Wooster is fantasy - and exaggeration, if you will. If you agree, can we see Wodehouse making a point or is he simply using this world as a device? In other words, is he perhaps mocking the aristocracy?
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Old October 25th, 2010, 11:10 AM   #17

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

Sorry, but more Wodehouse quotations from the source listed above.

The ability to sleep soundly and deeply is the prerogative,
as has been pointed earlier, of the upper classes of those who do not think
quickly. The Earl E., who had not thought quickly since the occasion of 1874

Even in his dream Lord E. had been perplexed as to what his
next move ought to be, and when he found himself awake, he was at first merely thankful that necessity for making a decision had at any rate been postponed.

Day in, day out, Rupert Baxter had been exercising his brain
and now he had gone and sprained it.

I always found Baxter reasonable man, ready to welcome
suggestions from outside sources.

What he didn't know about ... was not worth knowing.
He had examined the position of affairs and found it good.

Even Freddie, though normally an unobservant youth seemed
awed by the ruin he helped to create.

... - the allusion is a classical one and the fruit of an
expensive education.

I am strongly of the opinion that after the age of twenty one,
a man ought not to be out of bed and awake at four in the morning. The hour
breeds thought. At 21 life being all future, it may be examined with impunity.
But, at thirty, having become an uncomfortable mixture of future and past it is
a thing to be looked at only when the sun is high and the world full of warmth
and optimism.

Although he was aware that his hostess possessed the stuff
in large quantities and denied her husband nothing, this surprised Lord
Holbeton. It seemed to him to strike a note of almost wanton luxury, the sort
of thing that causes French Revolutions and Declines and Falls of Roman

The fact was that Mr Duff, a devil of a fellow among his own
sex, was terrified of women. He avoided them if possible, and when cornered by one without hope of escape always adopted the shrewd tactics of the caterpillar of the puss moth - which, we are told by an eminent authority, not satisfied with Nature's provisions for its safety, makes faces at young birds and alarms them considerably.' That was why Mr Duff's features were working. Nature, making provision for his safety, had given him bushy eyebrows and piercing eyes, and he threw in the faces as an extra.

Joss repeated his observation. He had shifted his position
slightly, so as to place a substantial chair between them, and had taken from
the mantelpiece a stout and serviceable vase - just in case. He was pretty
confident of being able to settle this dispute through the channels of
diplomacy, but there was no harm in being prepared.

The attitude of people towards densely moustached strangers
who are galloping up, shouting 'Hey!' varies a good deal s according to the
individual, joss Weatherby in such circumstances would have stood his ground
and investigated the phenomenon. So, probably, would Napoleon, Joe Louis, and Attila the Hun. Lord Holbeton was made of more neurotic stuff. The spectacle, acting upon his already enfeebled morale, was too much for him. Directing at the other a single, horrified glance, he was off up the drive with a briskness which would have put him immediately out of range of anything that was not a Jack rabbit. And even a jack rabbit would have been extended.

He was wearing the unmistakable air of a man who has failed
to find the blue bird.

You're one of those guys who can make a party just by
leaving it. It's a great gift.

She swayed her hearers from the start, especially Jerry. To
say that he followed her reasoning would be overstatement, but he agreed with every word of it.

Homer's life had been singularly free from beautiful girls.
He did not go out in the evening very much, almost never to parties where such
fauna abound, and during office hours a corporation lawyer's chances of seeing
anything in the Helen of Troy class are limited.

A girl who has brought a strange man home to meet her
mother, rather in the tentative spirit of a dog bringing a bone into a
drawing-room, naturally seeks the earliest opportunity of learning the latter's
opinion of him.

Uncle Bill had been in the sort of effervescent high spirits
which make a man leap at the opportunity of doing anything to oblige anybody.
Asked for the money, he would have had his cheque book and fountain pen out of his pocket with the swiftness of a conjurer de-rabbiting a top hat

But his guardian angel had seen to it that Bamey should be
there, and he was suitably grateful to him. He wished he could find him and
slap him on the back and tell him how deeply he appreciated his work.
It was a problem that needed all the thought he could give it. The recent encounter had deepened his conviction that there was only one
girl in the world he could possibly marry, and as of even date he could see no
way of avoiding marrying another. An impasse, if ever there was one. King
Solomon and Brigham Young would have taken it in their stride, but he could see no solution.

It was a risky thing to do, for out in the open like this he
was in grave danger of being buttonholed by his paying guests, by Colonel
Norton-Smith, for instance, with his fund of good stories of life in the Far
East or R. B. Chisholm, who held gloomy views on what was to become of us all
if things went on the way they were doing.

Women had let him down too often, and he was not going to
put his battered heart within kicking distance of the foot of even so
apparently trustworthy a girl as Jane.

Have you thought of truing homoeopathic treatment ...? In
cases like this, I always think another girl should be applied immediately.

"You know, young Jane," - he said, getting in
beside her, "one of things I like about you is that you are so slim, so
slight, so slender, so - in a word - portable."

The emotion of a man who comes out of bathroom, all pink and
glowing, and with a song on his lips, to find that in his absence from the
bedroom adjoining it, some hidden hand has removed his clothes may be compared roughly with to those of one who, sauntering along a garden path in the dusk, steps on the teeth of a rake and has the handle shoot up and hit him in the face. There is the same sense of shock,

There are a few men capable of remaining composed and
tranquil when a woman is saying "So!" at them, especially when
sweeping gesture accompanies the word. Napoleon could have done it, and Henry VIII, and probably Genghiz Khan, But Sir B. was not of their number.

The mildness of the expletive was proof that the full horror
of situation had not immediately come to him.

And then, suddenly, he realized that that this infernal,
officious ass of subconscious self had deposited him right in the gumbo.
There are moments in life when, passing idly on our way, we
see a strange face, look into strange eyes, and with a sudden glow of human
warmth say to ourselves, "We have found a friend!" This was not one
those moments.

He had had one of those sudden, luminous ideas, which help a
man who does not much thinking as a rule to restore his average. He stood there for a moment, almost dizzy at the brilliance of his thoughts; then hurried on. Napoleon, he mused as he walked, must have felt rather like this after thinking up a hot one to spring on the enemy.

It was plain that something had happened in the hinterland
of Mr. McCall's soul.

His memory was weak, he knew; but never before had it let
him down so scurvily as this.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 11:51 AM   #18

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

In other words, is he perhaps mocking the aristocracy?
I don't think so, I think he simply took up certain stereotypes and developed them to create an amiable fantasy world. To mock people with any satirical intent, you have to engage with them to some extent at least, and Wodehouse never does, this is an extraordinarily incomplete portrayal of the upper class world; after all, the aristocracy and landed gentry were still a powerful force in English society, and if they had been anything like what they are portrayed as being in Wodehouse's novels, they would barely have survived. Hardly anyone does anything in his novels, everyone just messes around up in town or in country houses. Bertie Wooster hardly strikes me as being an English aristocrat at all, more like some creature from a parallel universe; even that silly ass type is not derived directly from reality, but from caricatures in the music halls, popular stories and cartoons, going back into the preceding century (which Wodehouse may occasionally have seen dimly reflected in the world around him, but that would be an entirely secondary matter). This is too innocent a world, furthermore, to bear the weight of satire.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 11:56 AM   #19
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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

Both Wodehouse and Marlowe are deeply aware of language and serious literature, deeply critical (without spelling it out) of the social arrangements of their time and witty in a carefully thought-out way. I think that the early Psmith stories are in some ways funnier than the Bertie Wooster ones. I suppose I've read pretty much everything Wodehouse wrote, and I prefer Marlowe: he had a more ridiculous society to work on.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 11:59 AM   #20

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Re: Wodehouse, Bertie Changes His Mind

Originally Posted by avon View Post
Cicero, it's very clear that you have grasped this topic and emersed yourself in it ... and enjoyed doing so. Well done and thank you!

Question: I agree with Linschoten's observation that the world of Jeeves and Wooster is fantasy - and exaggeration, if you will. If you agree, can we see Wodehouse making a point or is he simply using this world as a device? In other words, is he perhaps mocking the aristocracy?
Thatís an interesting point. It could very well be. I only have this one story to judge from, but I wonít allow that limited perspective to stop me from venturing that Wodehouse seems to belong to that class of writers that hark back to the golden age of childhood. I donít think Wodehouse needs to be turned into a complicated writer, nor do I think he intended to be one. He was simply a story teller and a good one. When Wooster addresses the giggle of girls maybe it is the writer remembering being tongue tied when asked to recite in front of class. Jeeves is P.G.ís alter egoÖ oops there I go.

Cicero: love the quotes...can't wait to get into the my first P.G.W. novel.
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