Take Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, old Pop Bassett, the unscrupulous Stiffy Byng, the Rev., an 18th-century cow-creamer, a small brown leather covered notebook and mix with a dose of the aged aunt Dahlia and one has a dangerous brew which spells toil and trouble for Bertie and Jeeves.
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE, was a comic writer who enjoyed enormous popular success during a career of more than seventy years and continues to be widely read over 40 years after his death. Despite the political and social upheavals that occurred during his life, much of which was spent in France and the United States, Wodehouse's main canvas remained that of prewar English upper-class society, reflecting his birth, education, and youthful writing career.
Best known today for the Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories, Wodehouse was also a talented playwright and lyricist who was part author and writer of fifteen plays and of 250 lyrics for some thirty musical comedies. He worked with Cole Porter on the musical Anything Goes (1934) and frequently collaborated with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton. He wrote the lyrics for the hit song Bill in Kern's Show Boat (1927), wrote the lyrics for the Gershwin/Romberg musical Rosalie (1928), and collaborated with Rudolf Friml on a musical version of The Three Musketeers (1928).
A classic piece of Wodehouse silliness, involving Bertie Wooster, his formidable Aunt Dahlia and (of course) Jeeves in a scheme to steal an 18th century cow-creamer during a weekend party at an English country house.
Written in 1939, it also features a would-be fascist dictator of England named Spode, head of an organization called "The Black Shorts" (by the time he started his movement, the shirts had already been taken).
I think I'm pretty safe when I say that Code of the Woosters is generally considered one of, if not the, best when it comes to a Bertie & Jeeves book. And for good reason. It. Is. Hilarious.
Wodehouse was really on top of his game when he wrote CotW. It starts Bertie nixing a cruise that Jeeves wants them to go on, moves on to Aunt Dahlia ordering him to sneer at an antique cow creamer, and somehow ends with our favorite Wooster (as he would say) in the soup.
Roderick Spode (leader of the fascist Black Shorts) loves the drippy Madeline, the daughter of Sir Watkyn Bassett - a judge who once fined Bertie £5 for stealing a policeman's helmet. But Madeline is engaged to Bertie's ridiculous friend, Gussie Fink-Nottle - an idiot obsessed with newts. Oh, and Madeline is under the impression that Bertie is secretly in love with her and plans to marry him if anything goes awry with Gussie. Things happen, because of course they do, and it's Bertie to the rescue. Well, it's really Jeeves to the rescue, and the next thing you know Bertie is agreeing to go on that damn cruise. Because of course he does.
This is the Gold Standard for Jeeves' fans, so if you haven't read it yet, make it a priority.
Gussie (Augustus) Fink-Nottle is getting married, the shy, newt lover, (men need silly hobbies, to keep sane) to lovely Madeline Bassett, an unlikely pair, daughter of Sir Watkyn Bassett. A stern former magistrate, that the unfortunate Bertie, met officially once, not a happy memory. Madeline was Wooster's ex- fiancee (he didn't want to be one), the marriage averse Bertie, had given a bachelor party for his friend, at the Drones club. It was a drunken, deplorable affair, which might have been overdone (the celebration), just a little, but still the way the members all gentlemen, like it . When Bertie gets up from bed the next day, at last, and not very quickly, in his home, Mr.Wooster doesn't know whether it's morning or night. To an idle rich man, makes no great difference. Jeeves, his butler, and a genius (his boss, is sadly not), informs Bertie, his Aunt Dahlia, needs to talk to him, so he uncomfortably ...goes to see her . She has a wacky scheme involving an antique, cow-creamer, poor Bertie, females are always getting him into big trouble. After a misadventure inside a shop, with Sir Watkyn, how unlucky can a man be, Bassett buys the item mentioned before, not our errand boy ... And his friend the giant, frightening, Roderick Spoke a would be dictator of England scares Mr.Wooster, never a brave human being. Unfortunately Sir Watkyn, recognizes Bertie as the person that appeared before him, in court, but thinks he's only a petty criminal. Now by how's Bertie's dressed, he believes, has lifted himself up and has become respectable! Bassett congratulates him, for turning his life around, the wise Sir Watkyn's methods work ...Then Wooster embarrassingly collides with Sir Watkyn, outside, trying to take the silver cow-creamer ? Bertie gets invited later to the new, Justice of the Peace's home, guess who? By Gussie and Madeline, Sir Watkyn, has come into quite a lot of money, inherited he says, but Bertie is not quite so sure. Aunt Dahlia still needs Wooster to steal the cow-creamer, from Bassett, for her husband Tom, some women will never be discouraged. A fanatical collector of strange objects, his uncle is, and another weird hobby. Besides Sir Watkyn, wants to take Anatole the best cook in the United Kingdom, from the inflamed Aunt Dahlia (Wooster shudders)! Complication arise though, Stephanie Byng, Madeline's cousin demands that Bertram, take the local policeman's helmet... their in a feud. Where can you hide a helmet, though? She's engaged to one of the many friends, Bertie's acquired in his university days, the always hapless man knows by now, disaster will occur. Humiliation, and every conceivable thing which will show the world, Mr. Bertram Wooster, is not a real gentleman , he can't say no though. Bertie almost becomes engaged to Stephanie, and then Madeline, again ... Engagements here come swiftly, but are broken even faster, and what about the cow-creamer, how can he take that too? When Bertie is being closely watched by everyone, especially the suspicious, evil, Spoke, his connection to Aunt Dahlia was found out. Somehow all these things , will work themselves out for a happy ending, well, a satisfying one while Jeeves is still around ... The funniest P.G.Wodehouse novel...P.S. the code, never let a pal down !
No one weaves a plot like Wodehouse. Also, if you have a cow creamer, guard it with your life.
The 2012 re-read: Aunt Dahlia dispatches Bertie to Totleigh Towers to purlorn a silver cow creamer coveted by his uncle Tom from Sir Watkyn Basset. Unfortunately, Bertie has his work cut out for him in the form of Stiffy Byng and Madeline Basset. Can Bertie escape with the cow creamer without winding up married to either woman?
This is my second reading of Code of the Woosters and I can definitely say there is a reason I've been recommending it to people for the better part of a decade. P.G. Wodehouse was in mid-season form when he chiseled this masterpiece out of a block of stone. The Code of the Woosters should be handed out in writing classes as a prime example of how to orchestrate a plot. The twists are perfectly timed so the jaw-droppingest moments happen at the end of chapters.
The writing is superb and Wodehouse moves his characters through the scenery like a master puppeteer. Gussie Fink-Nottle, that "ghastly gob of gorgonzola," makes his return, still bethrothed(ish) to Madeline Basset and is just as quirky. Who else would think to put newts in the bathtub after breaking an aquariam? La Basset is the same as she was in the previous volume. I'm not sure if Stiffy Byng or Stinker Pinker make appearances in other volumes but they are quite memorable here. Roderick Spode is by far the best supporting character of the book, though, a facist who cowers whenever someone mentions "Eulalie," the meaning of which is not clear until the end. As always, the narrative is a minefield of hilarious similes.
The plot meanders all over Totleigh Towers. Like most Jeeves stories, Bertie gets himself deeper and deeper into the soup, the plot encircling such props as the aforementioned cow creamer, a notebook, and a policeman's helmet. As I mentioned before, the reversals of fortune are impecably timed.
I could go on and on about this book. Suffice to say, it's an easy five and my go-to recommendation for people who want to give P.G. Wodehouse a shot. They didn't make an episode of the phenomenal BBC Jeeves and Woosters series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie out of it for nothing!
Oh my god this is so, so, so funny. I was discussing Wodehouse with someone yesterday and, as he put it, "There are passages that you want to chase people around the house with, saying, 'Wait! Wait! Just listen to this bit!'"
Haven't laughed so hard in a good long while. God, but I love Wodehouse.
A classic of English humor, always so refreshing! In this volume, young Bertram, a decadent English aristocrat of the 1950s, must confront a series of misunderstandings around a jar of cream in the shape of a cow. Always dubious plots follow one another to avenge a dog by stealing a gendarme's helmet, guard a cook by stealing the silver jar of cream, and recover a compromising notebook. Bertram faces many formidable trials without courage or common sense but with a natural talent for causing hilarious catastrophes.
There may be no better cure for pandemic blues than P.G. Wodehouse’s incandescently funny prose. Reading Jeeves and Wooster is like snorting unicorn dust; not only does it energize you and make you feel giggly, but it also gets you kind of horny. (I mean like growing a unicorn horn, you pervs—Jeeves and Wooster do not, as a rule, arouse one sexually, though if one is turned on by hilarious Edwardian slang, then one might need to confine one’s reading of these books to one’s boudoir.)
What’s particularly delightful about this J&W story is that it’s a full-length affair, so it takes all of the comedic misunderstandings, coincidences, and instances of impossibly bad timing in J&W short stories and amplifies them by 10, with Wodehouse conducting the whole thing like a puppeteer, pulling strings at just the right moment to make you think, “Oh, this can’t possibly go…aaaaahhh! It did! It did go in that direction!”
I really can’t recommend these books highly enough. They legitimately make your soul happy.
(And, many thanks to the good folks at the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland for shipping me an essential care package this week.)
Classic Wodehouse. It doesn't get any better than this...actually it doesn't get much different than this either.
Perhaps that's not entirely fair. For me at least, The Code of the Woosters contains some of my favorite scenes and some of Wodehouse's most memorable characters. Herein his hero Bertie Wooster is at his daffiest, unable to accomplish the simplest of tasks, berating a cow creamer, without getting himself in thick soup. Soon after he's got a Bassett and that malodorous Spode badgering him to no end, and this is hot off the heels of a binge to-do in honor of his fish-faced friend Gussie Fink-Nottle, the newt fancier. Everything seems to converge upon poor Bertie in a most pitiless way, providing the reader with hoots galore and good old fashioned British hijinks.
To go back to my original statement...The Code of the Woosters, while a good 'un, is not a vast departure from the normal. Book after book Wodehouse churned out pretty much the same story. But it matters not a lick! The sense of humor might put the starch up some people's collars, but it fits me like a worn-in pair of loafers. Not every book's a school prize winner, but I've seldom been disappointed. If you want to give Wodehouse a go, The Code of the Woosters is the stuff to give the troops!
"We must say to ourselves: "What would Napoleon have done?" He was the boy in a crisis. He knew his onions."
Long have I resisted the fatal charm of P.G. Wodehouse. My previous forays into his oeuvre have been lacklustre. That was until, of course, The Code of the Woosters and I crossed paths.
"He paused and swallowed convulsively, like a Pekingese taking a pill."
So scrumptious. I should of known that I would of fallen into the trap sooner or later, given my proclivity for novels of a certain kind: you know, the jolly-hockey-sticks country house in Surrey à la Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh and Stella Gibbons.
"One doesn't want to make a song and dance about one's ancient lineage, of course, but after all the Woosters did come over with the conqueror and were extremely pally with him."
I am afraid I have become a fan and will be keeping my eyes well and truly peeled for more Jeeves in Wooster in the future. Heartily recommend this instalment to those who think they don't like P.G. Wodehouse. (Spoiler: you do)
"She was fully aware that she was doing something that even by female standards was raw, but she didn't care."
I have read or listened to many P.G. Wodehouse books, including this one, but on this occasion I listened to a dramatic adaptation by LA Theater Works. I knew the silly story, which involves an eighteenth century cow creamer (which, it suddenly occurs to me, is very much an example of Hitchcock’s “MacGuffin,” an object that just moves the plot along, an excuse for the action).
Bertie Wooster gets into sticky wickets, and stuffy Jeeves gets him out of these jams (cf. sidekicks such as Bond’s Moneypenny, Batman’s Alfred, Ironman’s Pepper, Sherlock Homes’s Watson, and so on). Bertie Wooster and Jeeves are amusing names, but others are also smile-inducing: Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, Stiffy Byng, old Pinker (nicknamed Stinker, of course), and they are just daffy people. But the real strength of his prolific output is his ability to make us laugh, mainly through goofy madcap dialogue, and this book makes the lists as one of his best ever.
“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, 'Do trousers matter?'" "The mood will pass, sir.”
“I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”
“Jeeves, you really are a specific dream-rabbit." "Thank you, miss. I am glad to have given satisfaction.”
“She was definitely the sort of girl who puts her hands over a husband’s eyes, as he is crawling in to breakfast with a morning head, and says: ‘Guess who!”
“. . . as if Nature had intended to make a gorilla, and had changed its mind at the last moment.”
“She laughed - a bit louder than I could have wished in my frail state of health, but then she is always a woman who tends to bring plaster falling from the ceiling when amused.”
Written in 1939, it also features a would-be fascist dictator of England named Spode, head of an organization called The Saviours of Britain, or "The Black Shorts" (by the time he started his movement, the shirts had already been taken, ha ha; that’s funny, right?). Interesting that he spoofs a dictator here. The main reason I read this now is because I had read an essay extolling Wodehouse’s many virtues by Christopher Buckley, who doesn’t ignore the fact that Wodehouse, while in Germany, was accused of writing propaganda for the enemy. He was cleared of the charges, finally, as the public service announcements he wrote in exchange for leniency by Germany turned out to be sort of lame, and British courts determined that he was really more of a political naif than an insurrectionist (of course). So he was aware of Hitler; he wrote a satirical character in part based on him.
If you are needing a laugh, Wodehouse is your man.
I read The Code Of The Woosters as part of a Best Of Wodehouse anthology. I was already very familiar with this particular outing with Jeeves & Wooster. Yet, it had been a while… I used to turn to Wodehouse’s work as a teen for some funny, light, summertime reading, and was also a fan of the ITV adaptation starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
The Code Of The Woosters is regarded as being one of the best Bertie Wooster tales, and for good reason. It encapsulates everything that makes him such a great comedy character. He always manages to bumble his way into sticky situations, such as being accused of theft by Old Basset. He assumed that Bertie is a bag-snatcher because he had once tried to snatch a policeman’s helmet. The main plot of this story is Bertie being implored to help with a plot to steal a cow-creamer. Of course, if any theft occurs, Bertie will get the blame… But will he be able to talk his way out of it?
However, the real star of each story is Jeeves. He is the brains behind every operation, he has the cunning and wit to pull Bertie out of these, often disastrous, situations.
Wodehouse’s stories have a unique humour to them. If you are familiar with, or take a liking to, his style then you shall love this one.
This book was ridiculous from start to finish. Farcical mishaps with hilarious punchlines. A delightful romp of whimsy and charm! This book has everything, a snark journal, theft of police helmets, cow-creamers (Modern Dutch, perhaps?) and relationship boomerangs! I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face. Wodehouse is a comedic genius and puts in the effort to pull you up on your gloomy days! Oh, it would be so fortunate to have friends like Bertie and Jeeves.
I'm always shocked to find that hardly anyone in these United States has ever heard of or read the works of Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse.... most indians who read english stumble upon his works sooner or later-more so, I dare say, than the english themselves.
I've always maintained that if a Wodehouse book cannot lift your spirits, you must be pretty close to suicide.
Amazing plots, memorable characters and superb prose. Long winding complex sentences that never fail to incite peals of laughter, long after you've put the book down.
Wodehouse is the master of the simile and the metaphor.
He can nail a character with just one sentence. His stories are full of estranged lovers, funny misunderstandings, meddlesome aunts, young curates ambitious vicars and absent minded uncles and an absolutely convoluted plot.
Bertram Wilberforce Wooster and his "Gentleman's personal gentleman"-the incomparable Reginald Jeeves will remain of of the most memorable characters in literature.
Quotes like this will be peppered throughout the book
"It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't."
"I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled. "
"Memories are like mulligatawny soup in a cheap restaurant. It is best not to stir them. "
Many consider this book to be the funniest of the Jeeves/ Wooster team, and I agree (though IMO, I would give that crown to Right Ho, Jeeves) that it is indeed extremely hilarious. Bertie, saved from the scaffold (i. e. marriage to Madeline Basset who thinks that the stars are God's daisy chain and every time a fairy sheds a tear, a star is born) at the last moment by Jeeves, finds himself ensconced in the country estate of the girl's father along with Gussie Fink-Nottle, her fiancée and Roderick Spode (the leader of a fascist organisation built on the lines of a Patton tank), who is also in love with Madeline. To further complicate matters, Madeline's father (who is also the district magistrate) is under the impression that Bertie is a kleptomaniac: Roderick Spode is of the opinion that Gussie Fink-Nottle is a "butterfly who toys with women's hearts and casts them aside like soiled gloves" and therefore wants to "pull him inside out and make him swallow himself". Add to this concoction Stephanie Byng, Madeline's flighty cousin who wants her fiancée, the curate Stephen Pinker, to prove himself by stealing the local constable's helmet - and last but not least, Bertie's Aunt Dahlia who has a mission for him - steal Judge Basset's cow-creamer from his ancient brass collection for Uncle Tom.
There are engagements which are broken and made up with alacrity, nightly escapades with Bertie on the run from pursuing females, a murderous would-be dictator and a pissed-off policeman, and crime and intrigue which could prove more than a plateful for Holmes and Poirot put together. In the midst of this all, calm and unruffled, is the figure of Jeeves who sets everything right by threatening to disclose the truth about 'Eulalie'.
If you are down in the dumps, this is the book to read. Uncontrollable laughter is guaranteed.
Yıla eğlenceli bir başlangıç yapmaya çok ihtiyacım vardı. O yüzden bu yılın ilk kitabı Wooster Düsturları oldu. Eğer İngili mizahını seviyorsanız ve haftanızı şenlendirecek, yüzünüzü güldürecek bir kitaba ihtiyacınız varsa bu kitab�� mutlaka okuyun.
Yozlaşmış aristokrat sınıfının muazzam temsilcisi, cesaretten yoksun olduğu ölçüde bela çeken Bertie Wooster’ın evlilik korkusuyla bir aşçının yemeklerine duyduğu aşkın arasında sıkışıp kaldığı ve kurtuluşunun bir inek sütlüğüne bağlı olduğu mükemmel bir talihsizlikler macerası. Böyle özetleyince hiçbir anlamı olmadığının farkındayım ama gerçekten çok fazla detayla keyfi kaçırılmaması gereken kitaplardan birisi. Zaten okumaya başlayınca merakla ve “ay daha nasıl bir aksilik yaşanabilir ki” isyanıyla okuyacağınız ve “keşke hepimizin hayatında bir Jeeves’i olsa”düşüncesiyle bitireceğiniz kitaplardan birisi. En başta söylediğim gibi eğer İngiliz mizahını seviyorsanız ve size iyi gelecek bir kitap arıyorsanız, mutlaka okuyun.
Bu arada kitabı sesli dinlemek isterseniz @storytel.tr de de mevcut. 🧡
PG Wodehouse removed the S-bend corset from the Edwardian Era, giving the masses a flawed aristocracy they could laugh with – and occasionally at – in the Saturday Evening Post.
The Code of the Woosters is just one of many volumes in the long-running serial/book series centered around “idle rich” bachelor Bertie Wooster and his sagacious butler, Jeeves.
Think… a male-centered I Love Lucy, with the hapless but charming Bertie constantly getting himself “in the soup” and his man Jeeves forbearingly fishing him out.
Rory mentions the author in episode 5 of season 5, during a dinner conversation at her grandparents’. And really, I can easily imagine Bertie at one of Emily Gilmore’s parties, having one too many Gin Slings and accidentally absconding with the King George II sauce boat.
It’s literary slapstick, served on a silver platter. ...
"You might put it that Hell's foundations are quivering. That is not overstating it, Jeeves?" "No, sir."
P.G. Wodehouse was an English writer whose career spanned over seventy years and whose work included almost 100 novels, numerous short stories, 15 plays and 250 lyrics for some thirty musical comedies. Despite his impressive resume and reputation as a "master of English prose", I, unfortunately, wouldn't have known he existed if it hadn't been for Rory Gilmore. I guess that makes me more of a Bertie than a Jeeves.
Many of his works include recurring settings and characters. One such set of characters, Bertram Wooster and his clever butler Jeeves, are at the heart of "The Code of the Woosters." "Bertie" is an old school English bachelor who rubs elbows with other upper-class British socialites. He's a bit dim yet extremely loyal (it's part of his own moral *code*), and to say that he has a knack for getting himself into situations is an understatement. Jeeves, his loyal servant, is there to get Bertie out of his entanglements by use of his good sense and keen problem-solving skills. (He's so good with information, he even had a search engine named after him--Ask.com was previously AskJeeves.com).
Throughout reading, I was trying to decide how I would best describe Wodehouse's style. The best I could come up with was "Sherlock Holmes meets Three's Company." There are no mysteries here...no murders or missing person cases to be solved. But each particular mess Bertie finds himself in ("the spectacle of as raw a bit of underhanded skulduggery as has ever been perpetrated in a civilized country") requires as much instinct and "know-how" to tidy up as any case Holmes was called in on. The predicaments seem to follow the Three's Company philosphy of situational comedy: If it can happen, it will...and with the most inconvenient timing, ironically, and with things and body parts getting bruised and broken. Throw in some dry, deapan dialogue, a lot of black-mailing, and multiply the shenanigans by ten.
His descriptions are some of the best and most comical ever written...
On Gussie: "a fish-faced pal", "confirmed recluse", "a less promising prospect (for marriage) it would have seemed impossible to discover in a month of Sundays"
On Madeline Bassett: "a droopy, soupy, sentimental exhibit, with melting eyes and a cooing voice and the most extraordinary views on such things as stars and rabbits"
On Spode: "It was as if Nature had intended to make a gorilla and had changed its mind at the last moment"
I can see myself being hooked on this series. It's light, it's intelligent, it's clever and engaging...as I am reading, I'm smiling inside.
I really enjoyed this one. But my favourite joke in the whole thing was when Wooster refers to someone as a ‘sensitive plant’ and is told, “You know your Shelley!” To which he replies, “Am I?” That just about sums up everything I love about Wodehouse. The poetic reference Wooster only uses because he steals it from Jeeves and then his utter bewilderment at what he takes to be a bizarre adjective being used to refer to him. Utter joy.
And the women in this one are even more selfish and manipulative than usual. Wodehouse’s women are a complete joy, a species apart whether aunts or not.
I also loved Wodehouse saying, in the darkest before dawn moment, that it would be impossible for all of the ‘nice’ characters in this to get their happy ending. This is something the reader can sympathise with when it is said, and marvel over, knowing even as it is said that somehow the master will untangle the whole mess in satisfyingly perfect fashion – in fact, even with apparent effortlessness.
And a fascist even gets bossed around and humiliated by Wooster – someone not known for consistently having it over anyone. Wooster's all-too-human failings with life handing him the wrong end of the stick all being part of the delight these stories offer.
Can’t end this review without using the word ‘joy’ for a third time, but that is how I think of these books – something impossible to forget, like a warm smile on a cold afternoon.
For those familiar with the Wooster/Jeeves stories, this is yet another circus with Bertie as ring master. As with all Woodhouse stories, the plot constantly shifts which in turn, requires carefully executed plans, most often created by Bertie's manservant, Jeeves. When Aunt Dahlia comes into the picture, the results are laugh out loud experiences. With a silver 'cow creamer' as the object of attention, Bertie is continually roped into schemes, and as usual, they all backfire. Imagine Lt Clouseau with a British butler and you'd have the makings of the story. What I love about PG Wodehouse are the character names, British phrases (Ha!) and contrived plots all of which are hysterical.
“It’s an extraordinary thing—every time I see you, you appear to be recovering from some debauch. Don’t you ever stop drinking? How about when you are asleep?”
As usual, I'm behind on reading goals - being the last to finish this buddy read with Evgeny and Dan 2.0
My first foray into Wodehouse’s writing, and I’ve fallen for him. The comical and cleverly coined style made this one a fun read, even if the plot only left behind a three-star impression.
I finally see where the "Jeeves" came from - and I approve. The highlights of the story were when Master and butler collaborated, argued, or battled protective guard dogs over bed sheets. Fun times! It’s now gotten my attention that this is the third interesting story I’ve read about this form of relationship, and I’ve enjoyed all three. Need to track down more eventually.
Bertie runs into foul circumstances and somewhat annoying misunderstandings when he sets out to make things right for his aunt’s cow creamer goal – only to end up sabotaging a friend’s pending marriage, his possible freedom at the hands of a local magistrate, and bungling his aunt’s cow-creamer dreams and his attachment to her cook’s artistic food that he apparently would almost risk his soul for.
Not all characters were likeable – I wanted to shake a particular girl – gah, what a nuisance!
Kind of like an episode of Green Acres where it’s funny because so many people are exasperating, but while I can stand a 20 something minute episode of Green Acres, I wouldn’t want to sit down for an extended episode that lasted much longer than that. With this book it carried on a bit too much for my nerves, so it wasn’t all fun and games, but still a classic worth reading.
নিজে লেখক হওয়ায় সাধারণত অন্য কোনও সমসাময়িক লেখক/অনুবাদকের বইয়ের রিভিউ লিখি না আমি। কিন্তু মাঝে মাঝে কিছু বই পড়ে এতই আন্দোলিত হই যে, নিজেকে নিয়ন্ত্রণ করা মুশকিল হয়ে পড়ে। আজ তেমনই এক দিন। তাই পাঠকদের জন্য পেশ করছি সেবা থেকে সদ্য-প্রকাশিত জীভস অভ অল ট্রেডস বইয়ের পাঠ-প্রতিক্রিয়া।
~কাহিনি~ বইয়ের কাহিনি বলবার আগে মূল দুই চরিত্র সম্পর্কে বলে নিতে চাই। যাঁরা জানেন তো জানেন; যাঁরা জানেন না, তাঁদের অবগতির জন্য জানাই - বিশ্ববিখ্যাত ইংরেজ লেখক পি জি ওডহাউসের সৃষ্টি করা দুটি অমর চরিত্র বারট্রাম উস্টার ও জীভস। প্রথমজন ধনীর দুলাল, কুঁড়ের বাদশা, অলসের হদ্দ ও ঝামেলায় জড়ানোর ওস্তাদ; দ্বিতীয়জন, অর্থাৎ জীভস, তার ব্যক্তিগত পরিচারক ও সকল মুশকিল আসানকারী। তুমুল জনপ্রিয় এ-দুটি চরিত্র নিয়ে বেশ কিছু রম্য উপন্যাস ও গল্প লিখেছেন ওডহাউস, সবক’টিই পেয়েছে পাঠকপ্রিয়তা। সব কাহিনিতে মূল ফরম্যাট মোটামুটি এক - বোকামো বা অবস্থার পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে বিভিন্ন ধরনের ঝামেলায় জড়িয়ে পড়ে বারট্রাম ওরফে বারটি উস্টার; শেষে জীভস তার বুদ্ধি, জ্ঞান, অভিজ্ঞতা, ইত্যাদির মাধ্যমে চমকপ্রদভাবে সমাধান করে সমস্যাগুলোর, উদ্ধার করে মনিবকে। এই বইয়ের কাহিনিও তার ব্যতিক্রম নয়। জরুরি টেলিগ্রাম পেয়ে টটলেই টাওয়ার্সে গিয়েই পুরনো এক গরুর মূর্তি এবং ঘনিষ্ঠ এক বন্ধুর নোটবইকে কেন্দ্র করে একের এক এক জটিল ঝামেলায় জড়িয়ে পড়ে বারটি। শিকার হয় ব্ল্যাকমেইল, হাতাহাতি, ভুল বোঝাবুঝি, চৌর্যবৃত্তি, বিয়ের প্রস্তাব-সহ মজাদার একের পর এক ঘটনাপ্রবাহের। অনিবার্যভাবেই শেষ পর্যন্ত রঙ্গমঞ্চে নাক গলায় জীভস এবং সমাধা�� করে দেয় সব সমস্যার। কাহিনির মারপ্যাঁচ এবং রসিকতায় ভরপুর ঘটনাক্রম পাঠককে প্রথম পাতা থেকে টেনে নিয়ে যায় শেষ পাতা পর্যন্ত।
~প্রতিক্রিয়া~ বইটা ধরবার আগে বিন্দুমাত্র দ্বিধা ছিল না, কারণ জীভস অভ অল ট্রেডস ওরফে কোড অভ দ্য উস্টারস ওডহাউসের সেরা বইগুলোর একটি... কাজেই ভাল যে হবে, তাতে সন্দেহ নেই। একমাত্র ভাবনা ছিল অনুবাদ নিয়ে। যাঁরা ওডহাউসের ইংরেজি বইগুলোর সঙ্গে পরিচিত, তাঁরা সহজেই বুঝবেন, হিউমারে ভরা মূল লেখাগুলো বাংলায় রূপান্তরিত করা সত্যিই কঠিন কাজ। সরাসরি অনুবাদ, বা সেবার প্রচলিত ভাষায় রূপান্তর করা হলে মূল হাস্যরসের অনেকখানিই নষ্ট হয়ে যাবার সম্ভাবনা থাকে। কিন্তু ইতিপূর্বে সেবা থেকে একই সিরিজের আরও দুটি বই (থ্যাঙ্ক ইউ জীভস ও ক্যারি অন জীভস) সফলভাবে অনুবাদ করেছিলেন খোন্দকার আলী আশরাফ ও এ. টি. এম. শামসুদ্দীনের মত বাঘা দুজন অনুবাদক। সনাতন সেবা-অনুবাদের বাইরে গিয়ে তাঁরা কিছুটা আক্ষরিক ও পোশাকী ভঙ্গিমায় অনুবাদ করেছিলেন বইদুটো, প্রাঞ্জলতা ও হিউমার ধরে রেখেছিলেন ভিন্নধর্মী, মজাদার, ও বৈচিত্র্যময় শব্দচয়নের মাধ্যমে। এক হিসেবে স্ট্যাণ্ডার্ড তৈরি করে দিয়েছিলেন ওডহাউসের বই অনুবাদের জন্য। কিন্তু সেই স্টাণ্ডার্ড অনুসরণ করা যে কতখানি কঠিন, তা আমি হাড়ে হাড়ে জানি। কোনও এক অশুভ মুহূর্তে নিজে ওডহাউসের একটি বই অনুবাদের ধৃষ্টতা দেখাতে গিয়েছিলাম কিনা! দু-পৃষ্ঠা যাবার পরেই ক্ষান্ত দিতে বাধ্য হয়েছিলাম নিজের সীমাবদ্ধতার কারণে। তাই এবারের বইটির অনুবাদক হিসেবে নবীন ডিউক জনকে নিয়ে একটু আশঙ্কা ছিল... কারণ তাঁর অভিজ্ঞতা তো জনাব আশরাফ বা শামসুদ্দীনের মত নয়। বলতে বাধ্য হচ্ছি, আমার সমস্ত আশঙ্কা ভ্রান্ত প্রমাণিত হয়েছে। ডিউক জন স্ট্যাণ্ডার্ড শুধুমাত্র ধরে রাখেননি, রীতিমত পাল্লা দিয়েছেন আগের দুটি অনুবাদের সঙ্গে। ওডহাউসের হাস্যরস ধরে রেখে এমন ভঙ্গিতে অনুবাদ করেছেন পুরো বই, ক্ষণে ক্ষণে গলা ছেড়ে হেসে উঠতে বাধ্য হয়েছি আমি। পড়া শেষ হবার পরেও ঠোঁটের কোণে রয়ে গেছে হাসির রেখা। তবে সেবার নিয়মিত অনুবাদের ভক্তদের আগেই সাবধান করে দিচ্ছি, সচরাচর যে-ধরনের অনুবাদ বা কাহিনি পড়ে তাঁরা অভ্যস্ত, সে-আশা নিয়ে বইটি পড়তে গেলে ধাক্কা খাবেন আপনারা। ওডহাউসের বই মানে কিন্তু স্ট্রেট-ফরোয়ার্ড ঘটনাক্রম বা কাহিনি বর্ণনা নয়, বরং ছোট্ট একটু কাহিনিতে ভাষার কারুকাজে পাঠককে আনন্দ দেয়া। যদি সেবা থেকে অনূদিত জীভসের আগের বইদুটি ভাল লেগে থাকে, শুধুমাত্র তা হলেই এবারের বইটি পড়তে শুরু করুন। অন্যথায় হ্যাগার্ড বা সাবাতিনির সঙ্গে তুলনা করতে গিয়ে বিভ্রান্ত হবেন। সবশেষে এটুকুই বলব, নির্ভেজাল রসিকতা ও বুদ্ধিদীপ্ত সংলাপের মারপ্যাঁচের জন্য পি জি ওডহাউসের বিকল্প নেই। আর সেই ওডহাউসের স্বাদ যদি মাতৃভাষায় নিতে চান, চোখ বন্ধ করে হাতে তুলে নিন জীভস অভ অল ট্রেডস। হাসি-আনন্দে কেটে যাবে বেশ কিছুটা সময়, তার রেশ রয়ে যাবে আরও দীর্ঘক্ষণ। অনুবাদকের প্রতি সনির্বন্ধ অনুরোধ রইল জীভসের বাকি বইগুলো দ্রুত অনুবাদ করে ফেলার জন্য। অন্তত আমি তার অপেক্ষায় থাকব।
রেটিং - ৯/১০ (পৃথিবীতে কোনও কিছুই নিখুঁত নয়, তাই দশে দশ দিতে পারলাম ��া, নইলে দিতাম)
Wodehouse loves to pepper his texts with all kinds of wacky similes, so I would like to start my review with one too: reading one of his novels is like drinking a glass of chilled champagne, on a sunny morning, reclining in a chaisez longue on an impeccably trimmmed English lawn. And Code of the Woosters is a Grand Cru - one of the best years.
My previous Wodehouse novels were written in third person, this time Bertie Wooster is the narrator and I noticed an increase in goofiness and general bonhomie. A self described boulevardier, he is a well heeled gent with an eye for good food and riotous parties, the only cloud on his horizon being the prospect of marriage. In his own words he feels "hounded like the dickens by a remorseless Fate" every time droopy Madeline announces the break up of her nuptials with Gussy Fink-Nottle.
The plot of the Code of the Woosters is best described for me as "screwball" comedy of the kind popular in Hollywood in the 30's. To Romanian readers the reference would be Ion Luca Caragiale and his masterpiece "A Stormy Night" (O Noapte Furtunoasa) . I will once more let Bertie give the introduction:
... Little knowing, as I crossed that threshold, that in about two shakes of a duck's tail I was to become involved in an imbroglio that would test the Wooster soul as it had seldom been tested before. I allude to the sinister affair of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, old Pop Bassett, Stiffy Byng, the Rev. H. P. ('Stinker') Pinker, the eighteenth-century cow-creamer and the small, brown, leather-covered notebook
The scene of the action : Totleigh Towers, a sumptuous country residence in Gloucestershire, where young people in love are struggling to overcome the opposition of parents and uncles and the various misunderstandings Fate chooses to throw in the path of their happyness. The arrival of good intentioned Bertie and suave Jeeves serves to complicate matters instead of providing solutions.
The use of the English language, seasoned with the occassional French bon mot or Latin dictum, is as usual superb, and I gladly dived into a dictionary to check if a word is real or invented by the author. I am satisfied with "espieglerie" but my bean is still baffled at "bishing" , "mazzard" or "rannygazoo". To give another example of what constitues a running gag in the story, Stephanie "Stiffy" Byngs is affectionatelly called by Bertie as: - young pill - young squirt - young pimple - young shrimp - young loony (I might have missed a couple)
Aunt Dahlia gets a simiar treatment as "old egg", "old flesh and bones" , "old ancestor" and so on, but what cracked me up regarding her is Bertie's rant about aunts in general:
'If I had my life to live again, Jeeves, I would start it as an orphan without any aunts. Don't they put aunts in Turkey in sacks and drop them in the Bosphorus?' 'Odalisques, sir, I understand. Not aunts.' 'Well, why not aunts? Look at the trouble they cause in the world. I tell you, Jeeves, and you may quote me as saying this - behind every poor, innocent, harmless blighter who is going down for the first time in the soup, you will find, if you look carefully enough, the aunt who shoved him into it.'
Actually, I have given up extracting quotes from the text when I realized I interrupted my reading almost every page to jot something down. It's that kind of book. Regretfully, I have little chance now to sprinkle my conversations with Bertie's signature exclamations ( "Dash it!" "What ho!" , "Rather!") and the stylish insults of yonder time are also out of style. It's easier to drop a four letter expletive than to call somebody a "ghastly goggle-eyed piece of gorgonzola". The alliteration pointing at Gussie, obviously.
Having watched the BBC production of "Jeeves and Wooster" , reading the novel now was a very visual experience, and I feel I should congratulate the casting department for the excellent choices made. All the actors did an excellent job, especially Gussie, Spode and Madeline were spot on with the book.
In closing remarks, this is an excellent candidate for a re-read at some point in the future, when I will need a pick me up lecture. Because :
Well, this should certainly teach us, should it not, never to repine, never to despair, never to allow the upper lip to unstiffen, but always to remember that, no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun is shining somewhere and will eventually come smiling through.
Classic Wodehouse humor with an insane convergence of many plots all converging with Bertie Wooster at their center. Only his man Jeeves has the brain power to extract him unscathed from the perils that threaten over the silver cow creamer, constable's helmet, a brown notebook, and possible engagement to two young ladies. At its best when being read into one's shell-like.
One thing I did notice after all these years is that I now know many more of the half-uttered quotations and references Bertie always has to ask Jeeves finish. Decades of reading actually can lead to self-education!
2023: This light-hearted read was *precisely* what I needed. My favorite phrase this reading was one I recognized from my own life recently: It was plain that for some reason the soul had got a flat tyre...
2018: Laughter is guaranteed if you don't read too much of Wodehouse at one sitting. This is classic Jeeves and Bertie. Silly, ridiculous, hilarious, comic relief.
I collected Wodehouse verbs: shimmered out, toddling up, whizzed by, pausing to pip-pip, bleated, biffed out, tucked in, beetled off, bowling along, potter about, swanking about, spouting vicarages, caught bonneting, heaved a silent sigh, snootered to bursting point.
Nouns and noun phrases: nosegay of folders, tidal wave of telegrams, hornswaggling high-binder, self-respecting cudster, languid sauntering, sunk in hoggish slumber, underhanded skullduggery, harmless blighter, distinct simper, joyful yowl, the festive board, that unchummy manner.
Add in exquisite similes, crazy names, literary allusions, Latin misquotations, unusual abbreviations and you have a rollicking good read.
I adore Overlook Press's Collector's Wodehouse set. I own eight. The complete set (99 volumes) sells for $1,975. If anyone wanted to pip in and buy this set for my library, I would gratefully give him/her my eight books.
I read an unusual question the other day. It asked, "In a sensationalist age, when everything quickly becomes a matter of passionate intensity, is there a place for the airy trifle?" There are two correct answers to this question. The first is 'Yes, definitely.' The second, and best way to answer this is to just hand the person asking a copy of any Jeeves & Wooster book or, for that matter, anything written by the brilliantly hilarious P.G. Wodehouse. In this insane world, who doesn't need a little light-hearted piffle on occasion. "Am I right, Jeeves?" "Quite so, sir."
The Code of the Woosters - or, as I like to call it: The Adventure of the Silver Cow-Creamer
Behind every poor, innocent, harmless blighter who is going down for the first time in the soup, you will find, if you look carefully enough, the aunt who shoved him into it.
This is another Wooster story where Aunt Dahlia has a little job for Bertie. Go to an antique shop, and sneer at a cow creamer, if possible, register scorn! Turns out, Bertie's uncle Tom has his heart set on an antique silver cream jug in the shape of a cow, but his rival in all things antique, Sir Watkyn Bassett, has gotten wind of it. Now it's up to Bertie to make sure his uncle ends up with the thing.
What follows is a typical Bertie adventure. Things go terribly wrong, he has to fix relations between Madeline Bassett and his pal Gussie (because otherwise, Madeline would once again consider him a matrimonial prospect, and we can't have that), and people left and right want him to steal the blasted cow creamer, while retired judges and a dictator (one of my all-time favorite characters, Roderick Spode) threaten to jail him or beat him to a jelly. Thank goodness Jeeves is there to save the day, as always.
"We are as little chilldren, freightened of the dark, and Jeeves is the wise nurse who takes us by the hand and-" "Switches the light on?" "Precisely."
My only criticism is that there is a bit too much going on. In the wonderful TV Show with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, this book is made into two episodes, separating two "Bertie has to steal this, or else…." storylines. It works better that way, for me at least.