Scott's Reviews > Mike and Psmith

Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse
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's review
Nov 23, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: 1900s, campus, edwardian, humor, kids
Recommended for: Harry Potterites, friends of Jeeves & Wooster
Read in November, 2008

"The character of Psmith ... is the only thing in my literary career which was handed to me on a plate with watercress round it, thus enabling me to avoid the blood sweat and tears inseparable from an author's life. Lord Emsworth, Jeeves and the rest of my dramatis personae had to be built up from their foundations, but Psmith came to me ready-made.

A cousin of mine ... happened to tell me one night of Rupert D'Oyly Carte ... a schoolmate of his. Rupert was long, slender, beautifully dressed and very dignified. His speech was what is known as orotund, and he wore a monocle. He habitually addressed his fellow Wykehamists as 'Comrade', and if one of the masters chanced to inquire to his health, would reply 'Sir, I grow thinnah and thinnah.'

This was in 1908, when I was not the man of lightening intelligence I have since become, but even in 1908 I was able to realize that I had been put on to a good thing. I was writing a serial for a boy's magazine called The Captain at the time, and to remove the character I had planned and put Psmith in his stead was, as the fellow said, with me the work of a moment. The results, I am glad to say, were excellent. At a dozen public schools throughout the country, boys started wearing monocles and calling one another 'Comrade', and The Captain doubled my price, always a pleasant thing to happen in those days of tight money." – P. G. Wodehouse

Wodehouse's Mike and Psmith (1909) reads sort of like a first draft of the Jeeves & Wooster novels that would spring from the author's mind a decade later. Although Mike is no Bertie Wooster, it's hard not to hear Jeeve's voice in the carefully wrought lines of Psmith. This is a very pleasant, quick read with a simple plot held together with plenty of high-jinx, all seasoned with just a dash of moral fiber. If you enjoyed Harry Potter but grew tired of all the Dungeons & Dragons, you may enjoy Wodehouse's early stories of public school life. Bone up on your cricket, though, before embarking!
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11/24/2008 page 61
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Jayanth Can you please attribute sources of the text you have quoted? I don't quite follow.


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