Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Carry On, Jeeves

The other week I was looking through the audiobooks on CD for something to listen to while I drove home. Nothing jumped out at me, and I didn't feel like listening to nonfiction or a mystery, my usual choices. Literary fiction is too difficult to listen to while you drive (hence my tenuous grasp of what happened in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer), and so I resignedly picked out the audiobook by P.G. Wodehouse that was on the shelf. I only knew that Anne really likes P.G. Wodehouse and we like a lot of the same books, so I tried it. I had flipped through some P.G. Wodehouse books as a teenager and found too many "I say, old chap" lines to even think about checking any of his books out.

Luckily, the audiobook (The Inimitable Jeeves) was one of the Jeeves series by Wodehouse . Jeeves is the clever valet of an endearing but unbrainy young rich man named Bertie Wooster, and Jeeves is always arranging behind the scenes so that the problem of the chapter (often humorous) comes to a natural solution.

I was also lucky enough to get a book narrated by Martin Jarvis, who has performed as Jeeves on Broadway. In the same way that Shakespeare is more intelligible when you see it performed (well, some parts of it anyway), the 1920s slang of the audio version doesn't bother me anymore. The British accents are a bit strong if you're not used to them, though. Now no other audiobooks will do but Jeeves audiobooks - I've graduated to My Man, Jeeves.

Jeeves is now thought of as a butler in popular culture (he's a valet in the Wodehouse books) and inspired for a few years (which is now Jeeveless and calls itself Other random facts: the Lodges' butler in Archie comics is named not Jeeves, but Smithers. And we think of chauffeurs as "James", as in "Home, James," which was popularized by a 1934 song.

1 comment:

Anne said...

My mission is to spread the gospel of P.G. Wodehouse to all readers in need of a good laugh. I'm glad there is another convert to the world of Jeeves and Wooster. Lord Emsworth, of Blandings Castle, is another P.G. series worth reading. or anything really by the Master.