On high recommendation I read one of the Jeeves and Wooster series; the most famous literary double act which has had tremendous influence over subsequent attempts on screen as well as on paper. The third instalment of Blackadder is transparently shaped by this series, to the extent that some lines paraphrase passages Jeeves-Wooster dialogue to great comic effect. The smart servant to a bumbling, blissfully unaware master provides ample room for Wodehouse to create hilarity page after page from small chuckles to belly laughs. It is the chinless Bertie Wooster that makes every mole hill into several mountains which only the measured and proud Jeeves can topple with faultless machinations. Such a plot line could get repetitive but Wodehouse manages to uphold the jocose tone without losing its bite. At the end of a book like this the reader can only ask for more and it was a delight to know that many such stories of the most lovable duo are in print.
The novel begins at a steady pace with the introduction of Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia to whom he is at the beck and call. Not able to refuse, Bertie is told to sneer at a cow-creamer at a local antique shop in order to lower the price for Dahlia’s husband. From such a humble beginning it is quite impossible to foretell that two marriages and the health of our double act was at stake. The story takes Bertie and Jeeves to Totleigh Towers where they tackle a fascist “Dictator”, “Stiffy” Byng and “Stinker Pinker” amongst others, all of whom allow Bertie to take every wrong turn imaginable to the readers delight. Wodehouse makes the solutions to these problems quite evident yet just out of reach for the protagonist who inevitably looks to the ever faithful Jeeves for help.
If it were only the plot that was worth mentioning I probably wouldn’t be mentioning the book at all for the language of the author lifts the novel into a staple of English comedy. He appears to have a simile or metaphor for every situation which adds to the hilarity. Lines like “constitutionally incapable of walking through the great Gobi desert without knocking something over” and “Jump like a pea on a hot shovel” nestled with Bertie’s constant referral to the head as the “bean” make for a comic milieu that the plot revels in.
It is rare to find such a fine writer of comedy that can make not only the plot funny but also the speech and manner of characters entertaining. It is one of those books that you read in a day and inexorably ask “please sir, may I have some more”. Such a gorging of literature is highly recommended with the Jeeves and Wooster series, at hand to put readers in a good mood whilst supplying a healthy well of wit and irony that you cannot indulge enough on.