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He had an extraordinary Broadway career, wrote 90 novels and story collections, and among his immortal characters are Jeeves and the Empress of Blandings. McCrum's magisterial biography chronicles the achievements and shadows of a gilded life.
"[McCrum] sees the Berlin episode as crucial, a series of events in which Wodehouse brought disaster on himself like a hero in the Green tragedies with which he became so well acquainted at school. Robert McCrum arranges the rest of his material round this central episode. It is a good story, very well told. This is the most persuasive life of Wodehouse so far. He doesn't resolve the central conundrum about the artist's moral responsibilities because it can't be resolved...."
"A graceful biography of the most British of all humorous novelists....[C]aptures the warmth and charm of a man who wanted only to amuse....[A[ fitting tribute to one of the great purveyors of light--though not insubstantial--entertainment."
"For balance and readability, this popular biography, like Jeeves, stands alone."
"McCrum tells the story judiciously....The dramatic center of the book is...the broadcasts Wodehouse made on Nazi radio during the Second World War. McCrum shows how Wodehouse was bamboozled...."
"However immensely lovable Wodehouse's writing is, it was not the output of an immensely lovable man....So Mr. McCrum, the literary editor of The Observer, faces formidable obstacles here--not least of them the existence of numerous other Wodehouse biographies, including a couple of recent ones. But he surmounts them with an invaluable portrait, thanks to a broad, incisive and complex understanding of Wodehouse's psyche. He also adroitly balances analysis of life and literature, mingling them aptly when necessary."
"...McCrum...is an engaging writer and he knows his Wodehouse. He's a discerning and reliable guide to the fiction, and he also gives us a very full account of Wodehouse's other career, as a lyricist for Broadway shows."
From the Publisher
This study of the life of P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), creator of the immortal Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves, seeks to penetrate the mind of a man who is difficult in some ways to fathom. Wodehouse's uneventful life--the life of a wealthy man of leisure who just happened to write brilliantly funny novels--was punctuated by the WW2 episode in which, interned by the Germans, he made facetious broadcasts for them that gave the impression that maybe they weren't such bad chaps, after all. Wodehouse's nave misjudgment made him unpopular in his native England, and was the cause of his eventual move to Long Island early in the '50s. Robert McCrum explores this incident and also the novels, and joins the chorus of those who consider the Bertie-and-Jeeves books to be not merely hilarious trifles but semi-serious examinations of the varieties of human nuttiness in the tradition of Jane Austen.
An affectionate portrait of the prolific twentieth-century comic writer discusses his creation of such characters as Jeeves, Psmith, and the Empress of Blandings; describes his contributions to Broadway and the London stage; details his internment in Berlin during World War II; and reveals a following of literary figures who are among his top fans.
Editors Note 2
A portrait of the prolific twentieth-century comic writer discusses his creation of such characters as Jeeves, Psmith, and the Empress of Blandings; describes his contributions to Broadway and the London stage; and details his internment in Berlin during World War II.
Editors Note 3
To Evelyn Waugh he was simply "the Master." He wrote ninety novels and story collections, and among his immortal characters are Jeeves, Psmith, and the Empress of Blandings (who is, of course, a pig). Equally impressive is the range of his devotees: Dorothy Parker, John Updike, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Salman Rushdie, John le Carre, and Seamus Heaney. Wodehouse had an extraordinary Broadway career, working with Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern, and even dared to rewrite Cole Porter's Anything Goes for the London stage. Robert McCrum's magisterial biography chronicles the achievements and shadows of a gilded life. The ill-judged broadcasts from Berlin, where Wodehouse was interned during World War II, produced a violent backlash in England and tarred him, unfairly, as a Nazi sympathizer. His long love affair with America was compromised by endless acrimony with the IRS. This is the book all Wodehouse fans have been waiting for; it eclipses all previous accounts of his life. An Economist Best Book of 2004.