Thursday, April 19, 2012

A lemma for a lemma -- Mike, Psmith and Orwell

I'm working on a long post that will refer to a post on British school novels (such as Tom Brown's School Days). That post will, in turn, refer to this literary evaluation of P.G. Wodehouse:
In 1909 came Mike, which George Orwell long afterward called "perhaps the best light school story in the English language." It is here that Psmith makes his first appearance, the initial P silent as nothing else about him is silent. He even had his monocle then, and the devious mind that makes him a pleasure to follow through all the rannygazoo of the later novels when he is, in a manner of speaking, grown up
Orwell's fondness for Wodehouse is one of those things that seem strange at first glance but make more sense the longer I think about it. Both were tremendously inventive writers and, at the same time, skilled craftsmen. Both brought a rare precision to their prose. Both were masters of plot. And though Wodehouse may have been gentler, both were still sharp satirists.

While on the subject of dystopian visions, the sometimes symbiotic, sometimes parasitic relationship between Wodehouse's servants and their childlike aristocratic masters has often reminded me of Wells' Morlocks and Eloi but that's a subject for another post.

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