There is something spectacular in a man who can make people laugh, regardless of time, place, and even sour disposition. Especially so when that man has been dead for almost fifty years. Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, commonly known as the more iconic P. G. Wodehouse, or simply PGW, is such a man. Commonly hailed as one of the greatest wordsmiths of the twentieth century, his seamless plots and gut-wrenchingly funny prose make him a hallmark of any anthology of the greats.
He wasn’t always so recognized however. It was only after a stint working at a bank that he realized what he really wanted to do, and turned to writing in free time. After he quit his bank job and a time writing for various magazines, he churned out brilliantly funny novels time and time again, beginning with school novels and ending with such classics as Psmith, Blandings Castle, and Jeeves and Wooster.
His style is unique and inimitable. A combination of obscure classical references, intricately colorful metaphors; such is the prose he prefers. His humor however is atypical – rarely satirical, snarky or bitter; it is a funny that brings life, laughter and a renewed appreciation for the everyday.
Any Wodehouse fan knows those days when clouds are gray and fortune does not smile benevolently on. That is the time to collapse into an armchair, frantically latch on to the one tonic you know is ever there in the darkest moments. That tonic: P. G. Wodehouse. But days do not have to be dark, and the winds of fortune need not be adverse for Psmith, Bertie, or the Hon. Galahad to bring excess joy to the soul. I would make a wager that any person, in any situation, in any time would be heartened by Wodehouse. It’s universal. It’s human.
I remember one particular moment when the humor was just too much to bear. Granted I hadn’t chosen the best moment to take on “Pigs Have Wings,” I was a senior in high school and had just wrapped up a final. Nearly everyone else was still busily working away on theirs, the room was quiet, and because I had to remain in the room until the period ended, and in my backpack was a tonic for my overheated brain, I pulled the fateful book out. One minute later: contentment filled my spirit and a wide smile spread across my face. Two minutes later: a series of conspicuously loud sniffles that seemed to morph into coughs. Three minutes later: to the astonishment of the test takers I seemed to lose all control and roared with laughter at the pure brilliance of the humor. And that is Pelham Grenville Wodehouse: a tonic that covers and absolutely overwhelms any shade of difficulty by the sheer genius of his storytelling and hilarity. Thanks for making the world a happy place P. G. W.
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