"Get out, get out, this is not a good house,
I see no books by P.G. Wodehouse."
I can't remember where I first heard that line but, looking around my own house, I had to conclude that mine was among the bad'uns.
Who the hell was P.G. Wodehouse?
So, being the up and coming literary snob that I was, I toddled off to the nearest library to check one out. (Wodehouseianisms, I must warn you, spring from the old lemon as soon as the subject is broached.)
I have to confess, I was so dense as to the meaning and intent of the adventures of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves that it took me the better part of the first one I read to get it. I actually asked myself stupid questions like, "What is the point of this silly twaddle? When is this going to get serious?"
It took lines like: "She's so far above me, Bertie." "Tall girl, what?" or "The shock to Colonel Wedge of finding that what he had taken for a pile of old clothes was alive and a relation by marriage caused him to speak a little sharply." to get me off my high horse of expectations and into the Wodehouse frame of mind. And once there, I couldn't get out. I think I sloughed off one whole quarter of university checking out every single P.G. Wodehouse book in the library, until I finally ran out of Bertie and Jeeves and their like and was stuck with the golf stories.
I don't even like golf, but I would tee off with Wodehouse characters any day of the week. Over the course of the Wodehouse ouvre, you will spend quality time with such memorable characters as Gussie Finknottle, Madeline Bassett, Tuppy Glossop, Bingo Little, Daphne Winkworth, and Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright.
will get you off on the right foot, although I would recommend diving right in with this collection: in which Bertie discovers that he has been singularly blessed in the matter of the gentleman's gentleman:
"If you would drink this, sir," he [Jeeves] said, with a kind of bedside manner, rather like the royal doctor shooting the bracer into the sick prince. "It is a little preparation of my own invention. It is the Worcester Sauce that gives it its colour. The raw egg makes it nutritious. The red pepper gives it its bite. Gentlemen have told me they have found it extremely invigorating after a late evening."
I would have clutched at anything that looked like a life-line that morning. I swallowed the stuff. For a moment I felt as if somebody had touched off a bomb inside the old bean and was strolling down my throat with a lighted torch, and then everything seemed suddenly to get all right. The sun shone in through the window; birds twittered in the tree-tops; and, generally speaking, hope dawned once more.