The P.G. Wodehouse Book Club: An Invitation

If he elected to hide his pain under a bright smile and a laugh like that of a hyena with a more than usually keen sense of humour, our line was obviously to follow his lead.

The Man With Two Left Feet & Other Stories

In these trying times, good people are reaching out to support others in whatever way they can, each according to our particular skills. But starting an online P.G. Wodehouse Book Club feels like a poor and inherently selfish response. Is it reasonable to be reading and talking about Wodehouse in the midst of a global pandemic — while others are ‘out there’ doing essential work and saving lives?

I think the answer is yes.

To begin with, the two activities are not mutually exclusive. The new group has at least one member who is reading Wodehouse as an escape from his essential hospital work. And those of us confined to home are playing our part in reducing the spread of the virus in our communities. The psychological benefits of reading, laughing, and connecting with others are all well-established — and important to maintain at such a time.

As a rule, you see, I’m not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across premieval swamps and Uncle James’s letter about Cousin Mabel’s peculiar behaviour is being shot round the family circle (‘Please read this carefully and send it on Jane’) the clan has a tendency to ignore me.

The Inimitable Jeeves

There are some terrific, well-established online Wodehouse groups if you’re looking to connect with other fans (list follows below). The new P.G. Wodehouse Book Club is for anyone — new readers and enthusiasts alike — who would like to read and discuss the books with others, in a vaguely organised sort of way.

The club was established at approximately 6pm on Wednesday (Australian Central Standard Time) with 41 of its 245 founding members voting for The Inimitable Jeeves as our first book. The gang will be convening online next Saturday — all day, anytime — to talk about it.

An early talking point has been the cover art for this Australian paperback edition.

You can take part by joining the P.G. Wodehouse Book Club on Facebook, or follow the conversation on Twitter #PGWClub.

Happy reading and stay safe, friends.

HP

Other online Wodehouse groups

Let me know if I’ve missed a group and I’ll add it to the list

31 thoughts on “The P.G. Wodehouse Book Club: An Invitation”

  1. I have always found Wodehouse a great solace and a great escape. I always have one of his books by my bed and usually read a few pages before drifting off into the dreamless. Now the imperative is more than ever. The world has descended into a madness far worse than any previous in my experience. However, I refuse to Face or Twit or whatever. You’ll have to soldier on without me in your reading club, Honoria. Sweetness and light will prevail.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my long career in the criminal justice system (from which I am now retired), I too often had to deal with some of the most dreadful examples of man’s inhumanity to man. A friend once asked me how I managed. My unhesitating reply was, “I read P.G. Wodehouse.” So this idea is absolutely top-hole! I’ve put in my application on Facebook and solemnly promise no Spode stuff.

    The idea of a club immediately put me in mind of Bertie’s observation (I forget where and the exact wording) that you could escape someone who intends to horsewhip you on the steps of your club simply by nipping inside, knowing that he is not a member and will not be admitted. Seems a good metaphor for when Life is trying to horsewhip you.

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    1. Delighted you can join us. Are you a Rumpole fan as well? I can’t think of the quote you mention, but I’ll get back to you if I wander across it.

      As for humanity and life… I’m grateful for Wodehouse too.

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      1. Thanks, Madame P! I am indeed also a Rumpole fan of long standing. (Thanks for that reminder – more fun stuff to dip into during our self-imposed isolation.)

        I found the horsewhip gag – it’s in Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (a.k.a. The Cat-Nappers in the U.S.): “I had often wondered, when I read about fellows getting horsewhipped on the steps of their club, why they didn’t just go up the steps and into the club, knowing that the chap behind the horsewhip wasn’t a member and wouldn’t have a chance of getting past the hall porter.” You can’t buy wisdom like that.

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  3. As ever, young Glossop, your instincts are right on! Wodehouse is a well-known tissue restorative, so to speak. Arrow Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, actually put together for the benefit of the public a few years ago a nice set of small paperbacks featuring selected short stories, under the title “A Wodehouse Pick-Me-Up!” Only one of the dozen selected is from “The Inimitable Jeeves” but in an embarrassment of riches should that be odd? And then there is Faith Sullivan’s novel “Goodnight, Mr. Wodehouse” featuring Plum’s medicinal strengths on not just body but mind and soul as well. I have elected to put an eccentric American spin on the first selection and will read an A.L. Burt reprint of “Jeeves”, the title of the first US edition (I suspect the publishers doubted we Americans’ ability to understand big words like inimitable.). Let the healing begin!

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    1. Thanks Ken, old bean. So glad you agree.

      The Pick-Me-Ups are lovely — I believe they included a couple of Mulliner stories. As for the strange habit of giving books different titles in the US and UK… there doesn’t seem to be much logic in it.

      Does it have an interesting cover? David McGrann mentioned you in a comment in the new group — one of his editions is autographed by the illustrator and used to be owned by you.

      Stay safe.

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  4. Good thinking, HP, and I wish you and the like-minded every success with this project. As I like our esteemed fellow-countryman Noel Bushnell refuse on principle to use social media (thank goodness I retired long before it became compulsory in the newspaper business), I must leave it to you and yours. I shall continue benefiting from therapeutic PGW by reading, listening and following the appropriate websites.

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    1. Thanks Murray. I always feel honoured that you and Noel read the blog.

      I’m grateful to have grown up in the days before Social Media. It’s dire at present, so a bit of the Wodehouse treatment seems called for.

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  5. I will have to appy to the Page under my FB moniker, ‘Wilson McPhert’. I’m not sure if I will have anything useful to add but I look forward to reading the comments of others with more Wodehouse experience.

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  6. I, like the esteemed Senior Members, have no truck with Facebook or Twitter, but I shall nonetheless chip in to say that when times are dark and hearts are heavy is the absolute last time we should lay aside things which spread good cheer. On the contrary, the more good cheer we can hurl about the place the better. (A merry heart does good like a medicine, and happily doesn’t cause unpleasant side effects when mixed with medicine of the less palatable sort.)

    On which note, I am doing my significantly sub-Wodehouse bit by returning from my blog sabbatical to try to spread a bit of light and laughter, even if only to a handful of readers.
    And of course, I shall continue taking my twice-daily doses of Wodehouse (while brushing my teeth).

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  7. I am a French fan of Wodehouse whose first act at the beginning of the confinement measures was to pick up my copy of “The world of Jeeves” and re-read it…

    I am however aware that my (sadly incomplete) collection of Wodehouse books might not be sufficient to last through these hard times. Since I am not too much of a social media person, I’ve started a project which I had been vaguely thinking about for a while: a French adaptation of “Uncle Dynamite”. By which I mean not a translation only, but an attempt to really capture the spirit of the book and its characters, so I’m moving the setting to France; I am even trying, in a different spirit of experimentation, to have Aunt Fred become Tante Frédérique, comtesse de Fiquefleur. I don’t know if this is allowed without authorization of the Estate, but I am pretty confident that Switzerland (where I live) doesn’t extradite rogue translators of Wodehouse.

    This should take a lot of time, and is also certainly good exercise for the brain… A particularly fun part is to search for the sources of the quotes, and to try to adapt them from a French perspective (this is tricky for the Bible, since there is nothing like a universally recognizable French version; I’ve chosen to use the Bible de Genève, which was used by Calvin in the 16th Century).

    Thanks for the wonderful blog and best wishes to all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – and for the kind words.
      I am always in awe of Wodehouse translators, and your project sounds particularly fascinating. There is no harm in asking the estate for permission. They’ve let a few authors try their hand at adaptations and spoofs in recent years, and your idea sounds like good fun.
      Best of luck with it.

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  8. Goodmorning,

    Is this the Book Society’s Choice of the Month?

    I am afraid I shan’t be able to join, as I am currently reading the new and authoritatively annotated edition of the works of Spinoza.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks!
    I’m making progress, and I must say that puzzling over a good French adaptation of the Brabazon-Plank major/minor imbroglio is definitely a good way to keep my brain from other things…

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  10. I just discovered your blog, and I am having the BEST time. Thank you so very much for creating this wonderful, lovely Wodehouse filled corner of the Internet that I now look forward to exploring thoroughly. You’re doing such a great job. Would love to join the club, cheers and thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I discovered recordings of PG Wodehouse books on Youtube sometime in March, I believe. Living in New York City, things were really grim and scary and like many of my friends, getting a full and peaceful night’s sleep could no longer be expected. However, after taking up the habit of listening to the Jeeves series whilst getting ready for bed, I noticed that my quality of sleep was markedly improved. There’s much to be said for a good dose of enjoyment before turning out the light at night!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The reports sound dire — I’m so sorry you’ve been caught up in it. I hope you are continuing safe and well. I quite agree with you about the Wodehouse audiobooks. I’ve been relying on them as an aid to sleep for many years — and find them essential in difficult times.
      Wishing you all the best
      Honoria

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