This week on The Literary Life Podcast our hosts, Angelina Stanford, Cindy Rollins, and Thomas Banks, continue discussing P. G. Wodehouse’s Code of the Woosters together, covering chapters 5-9 today. They share some similarities in Wodehouse’s work to Shakespearean and Roman comic characters. Some of these stock characters are the couple, the helpful servant, the unhelpful servant, the irritable old man, and more. Angelina shares her take on Wodehouse’s ability to complicate the comedic form. Cindy makes a comparison between the ease created by habits in life and form in stories. Delighting in Wodehouse’s skill to turn a phrase, our hosts share many humorous passages throughout this episode, so be sure to stay tuned to the end to catch it all.
Find annotations for the slang, quotes, etc., for The Code of the Woosters here.
To find out more about Thomas’ summer class on G. K. Chesterton and sign up for that, go to houseofhumaneletters.com. To register for Cindy’s summer discipleship session, visit morningtimeformoms.com.
The gentleness and candour of Shakespeare’s mind has impressed all his readers. But is impresses us still more the more we study the general tone of sixteenth-century literature. He is gloriously anomalous.C. S. Lewis
He wrote to Sheran: What do you find to read these days? I simply can’t cope with the American novel. The most ghastly things are published and sell a million copies, but good old Wodehouse will have none of them and sticks to English mystery stories. It absolutely beats me how people can read the stuff that is published now. I am reduced to English mystery stories and my own stuff. I was reading Blandings Castle again yesterday and was lost in admiration for the brilliance of the author.P. G. Wodehouse, as quoted by Frances Donaldson
You notice that popular literature, the kind of stories that are read for relaxation, is always very highly conventionalized…Wodehouse is a popular writer, and the fact that he is a popular writer has a lot to do with his use of stock plots. Of course he doesn’t take his own plots seriously; he makes fun of them by the way he uses them; but so did Plautus and Terence.Northrop Frye
…when you go to his residence, the first thing you see is an enormous fireplace, and round it are carved in huge letters the words: TWO LOVERS BUILT THIS HOUSE. Her idea, I imagine. I can’t believe Wells would have thought of that himself.P. G. Wodehouse, in a letter to William Townend
by P. G. Wodehouse
When first I whispered words of love,
When first you turned aside to hear,
The winged griffin flew above,
The mammoth gaily gamboll’d near;
I wore the latest thing in skins
Your dock-leaf dress had just been mended
And fastened-up with fishes fins –
The whole effect was really splendid.
Again – we wondered by the Nile,
In Egypt’s far, forgotten land,
And we watched the festive crocodile
Devour papyrus from your hand.
Far off across the plain we saw
The trader urge his flying camel;
Bright shone the scarab belt he wore,
Clasped with a sphinx of rare enamel.
Again — on Trojan plains I knelt;
Alas! In vain I strove to speak
And tell you all the love I felt
In more or less Homeric Greek;
Perhaps my helmet-strap was tight
And checked the thoughts I fain would utter,
Or else your robe of dreamy white
Bewildered me and made me stutter.
Once more we change the mise-en-scene;
The road curves across the hill;
Excitement makes you rather plain,
But on the whole I love you still,
As wreathed in veils and goggles blue,
And clad in mackintosh and leather,
Snug in our motor built for two
We skim the Brighton road together.
English Literature in the Sixteenth Century by C. S. Lewis
P. G. Wodehouse, A Biography by Frances Donaldson
The Educated Imagination by Northrop Frye
Arabian Nights trans. by Burton Richard
The Renaissance Studies in Art and Poetry by Walter Pater
Unnatural Death by Dorothy Sayers
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