In Defense of Wodehouse

P.G. Wodehouse is not someone that I studied in school. In fact, if it weren’t for industriously reading friends, I wouldn’t know his name at all. Why is that?

I’ll be straight: I don’t know why. Without making broad negative assumptions about academia (which I don’t want to make because I’ve learned a lot from there) I can’t think of anything that would stop Wodehouse from making a terrific subject for English classes.

His language is sharp. I can see that argument that the slang is dated, but it’s not something that is distracting and slang, more than ‘proper’ language says more about the time a piece was written in–making it a valuable tool for understanding history and the development of language. (Yes, texting language says a lot about the tech savvy and speed of our current culture.)

The stories are developed in a classical style. There’s a three-to-five act structure involved in the pieces. Even if a story is about cow-shaped creamers, does the fact that the stories are shaped similar to Shakespeare’s comedies mean nothing?

Plus there’s the historical aspect of his stories–not just language, but subject matter. Most of what we’ve discussed the last couple months were Wodehouse’s works pre-WWII. (So, lots of butlers and whatnot.) But I bet an interesting comparison could be made between his pre- and post- works. So the pieces are relevent there too.

Any other ideas on would be good to study in Wodehouse? What writers have you studied in college/high school that would compare to Wodehouse? Any? Humor writers?

***Sorry for those who saw this post as blank earlier!  My own computer is in ‘the shop’ and I’m adjusting to the husband’s computer.

2 thoughts on “In Defense of Wodehouse

  1. I can't imagine why either. On the other hand, you only get five years or so to hand out reading lists to students – I've never read Lord of the Flies, for instance. Shakespeare's a given but he seems to be the only constant across most curricula.

  2. I would say Jerome K. Jerome. He was before Plum's time but you could find there are some definite similarities between the two. And of course Evelyn Waugh.

    That said, I was very really amused by the title of the post!

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