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June 28, 2007


I read a fair amount of Wodehouse many years ago when I was in college in India, where it was almost a rite of passage. Strangely,I can't recall the plots of any of the stories. My recollection of the experience goes something like this: you read along smoothly for a while before you stumble upon a gem. You then put the book down and laugh for several minutes. Then you do it again. And Again.

One such turn of events I remember is from a book called Big Money. Talking about the engagement of one of the main characters, Wodehouse tells you that the engagement received only a small paragraph in the Morning Post, and goes on to decry the lack of imagination in newspaper sub-editors. "If you want to excite a sub-editor", he says, "you must be a Mystery Fiend and slay six with hatchet".

Discovering Wodehouse is a key moment in any reader's life, I think - his work is an abiding pleasure. I have a theory that one's favorite Wodehouse characters are always the ones to which one was first introduced. For me, they are Lord Emsworth and the cast of Blandings Castle. I do love Bertie and Jeeves, but there will always be, for me, that sense, however unfounded, that they are somehow "less-than" the Blandings crowd.

I think what Benjamin has posted is very true. For me too Lord Emsworth and his brother Honorable Galahad Threepwood remain my favorites because I started reading Wodehouse with Blanding's Castle. Other than those two, I am also very fond of all their sisters (the bunch of snooty Ladies) Constance, Dora, Julia and Hermione, not to mention the Empress of Blandings,the pivotal character in all the stories. But compared to the sunshine and laughter of Blandings Castle, Bertie and Jeeves appear somewhat dimmer.

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