The Mystery of Jeeves

The genius of P.G.Wodehouse has been well recognized. And so it should be. His books are so funny and give so much pleasure that they make life more bearable. But he was also a very intelligent and sophisticated artist, the more so that his books are entirely made from conventions and stock characters, and basically tell the same story over and over again. That’s not to say that there is no development. In the early stories there are clues to the character of Jeeves—he has his moods and preferences. Later on he goes to another plane, something astral maybe. He becomes mysterious, spectral, a figure of the imagination, vivid but insubstantial:

“Presently I was aware that Jeeves was with me. I hadn’t heard him come in, but you often don’t with Jeeves. He just streams silently from spot A to spot B, like some gas.”

Wooster always describes him as “shimmering” in and out. I think he’s an emanation of Wooster, and that’s so funny because he is supposed to be much more intelligent than Wooster; but then the levels of irony in Wooster’s self presentation may be as yet uncounted. Wodehouse’s evolution is toward the more abstract—but completely in and through convention. Perhaps the two are synonymous anyway.



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