Andrew Gaulke's Reviews > The Code of the Woosters

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
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Jan 04, 2010

it was amazing
Read in December, 2009

I’ve heard it said that Wodehouse is an author equivalent in talent to Shakespeare. With this book, I come very close to believing it. He has that ability in metaphor to be both funny and yet still perfect in his imagery, when he says “She snorted like a bison at the trough” the image appears vividly and immediately. His characters voices are audible in their dialogue, their minds and moods almost palpable on the air as you read. But for me, the real triumph of Wodehouse is the construction of stories wherein though we cannot for the life of us think of a way out for the characters, we know with certainty that Jeeves will make it so. Though the characters might despair, we never do. The glorious joy and fun of the read is never once lost, and no matter how close to that edge the author might drive his creations, the deft with which he pulls us back, the elegance of the solutions of Jeeves ensures that all is still somehow sun-lit and feather-light.

The writing of each of the characters is absolutely fantastic; their voices are evident even in the rhythm of the words,
“'There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, "Do trousers matter?"'
‘The mood will pass, sir.’”
You can hear the characters through even these two lines, the flippant Bertie Wooster, and the formal Jeeves.
The characters are each, in their way, absurdly alien, and yet somehow they seem familiar. For the fascist Spode, the image is rendered instantly with the description, “It was as if nature had intended to make a gorilla and had changed its mind at the last moment.” I doubt very much if anyone knows somebody like Spode, but from that description the image leaps instantly to mind.

But trying like this to describe how perfect this book is, it is like lying on my back and grasping at clouds. I laugh more reading Pratchett, but in a book like this there is something indescribable in what makes it compelling, something sublime. There are moments in this book where one just has to stop, so overwhelming is the master-stroke of plot or character or metaphor just encountered. It’s the equivalent of a glimpse into the soul.
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