The Mating Season – PG Wodehouse

This is probably the best Wooster/Jeeves story there is. It is run close by a couple of others, and I think it may even better the Blandings Castle stories, though they tower over most Wooster tales.

I was looking at the publication date, 1949, first in Penguin in 1957, when I noticed that there was the notice about all characters being imaginary and having no relation to any living person, unusual I thought, normally that sort of thing is taken for granted with Wodehouse. And then the significance hit me. 1949, just after the war. Wodehouse did not have a good war and was investigated afterwards as a traitor. His main protagonist was the MP Duff Cooper. In this story Gussie Fink-Nottle had been encouraged by Claude ‘ Catsmeat’ Pirbright to wade in the fountain at Trafalgar Square looking for newts. He was of course arrested and taken before the bench where he was given 14 days. He gave a false name – Alfred Duff Cooper. Wodehouse getting his own back.

This tale is so well written. No character is there without reason, they all have a part to play. Already within the first three chapters the major and many minor players have been introduced and placed ready to play out their roles in the tale. Not a word is wasted. I said I’d take my time over this book just to enjoy the skill of Wodehouse as he makes the English language dance to his comic tune. This book should be compulsory reading in all schools. One point though, schools might want to take the junior edition as one of the characters describes another as a ‘piefaced young bastard’. I don’t recall any other book containing such strong language. A great book.

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2 Responses to “The Mating Season – PG Wodehouse”

  1. If I might use this opportunity to share my thoughts, in my opinion Wodehouse’s novels are better than his short stories, and the Jeeves & Wooster works are in no way superior to those featuring other characters (like the Blandings tales with Lord Emsworth). Then again, I have only read a small proportion of this justly celebrated writer’s huge output, so I might be better placed to judge once I’ve read a whole lot more.

    • I agree that on the whole the novels are better than the short stories, or rather I get more pleasure from the longer form. However ‘The Mating Season’, is a full length Wooster and Jeeves novel, just as ‘Jeeves in the Offing’ is full length. Both of these are ahead of the Blandings series mainly because they have much tighter plots, but the Blandings novels come immediately after them. Remember also that not all of the Blandings tales are full length, there are some Blandings short stories too. The short stories are useful in both threads as they help introduce and develop the characters, without this early development I think the longer stories would not be such good reads.

      This is just a personal opinion. I haven’t read all of his books either, I have around 60 of the 90 published, but am finding the remaining 30 tough to source, probably they are out of print.

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