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Posts Tagged ‘P.G. Wodehouse’

John Bayley on British Wit

January 22, 2015 | by

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John Bayley with Iris Murdoch, 1980.

The New York Times has reported that John Bayley died last week at eighty-nine. A literary critic and Oxford don, Bayley was best known for his vivid, searching memoir, Elegy for Iris, about his married life with Iris Murdoch, who in the late nineties had fallen deep into Alzheimer’s disease. “To feel oneself held and cherished and accompanied, and yet to be alone,” he wrote. “To be closely and physically entwined, and yet feel solitude’s friendly presence, as warm and undesolating as contiguity itself.”

But Bayley was a keen critic, too. Remembering him in the Guardian, Richard Eyre writes,

John was a brilliantly readable reviewer, often witty and sometimes waspish, but invariably bearing the authority of a man who could speak knowledgeably of all European cultures. He believed that the point of literature was to make sense of the world, and, although shy and unassertive, he was a blazingly confident guide to how and where to discover those truths. If I were looking for an epitaph for him it would be from Tolstoy: “We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”

In our Spring 1998 issue, The Paris Review asked thirteen British writers to answer questions about the state of the nation’s literature. Bayley was one of them—here, to remember him, are the two questions he answered.Read More »

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Love Among the Chickens

October 15, 2014 | by

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INTERVIEWER

Of all the books you’ve written, do you have any favorites?

WODEHOUSE

Oh, I’m very fond of a book called Quick Service and another called Sam in the Suburbs, a very old one. But I really like them all. There are very few exceptions.

—P. G. Wodehouse, the Art of Fiction No. 60, 1975

I wonder how Wodehouse (born today in 1881) came down on Love Among the Chickens, one of his earlier novels and, to my mind, one of his strangest. It is, as its title page quite clearly states, “A Story of the Haps and Mishaps on an English Chicken Farm.” (Wonderful use of haps, there. Why is it that we only hear of mishaps these days?) Read More »

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Jeeves, Redux, and Other News

November 4, 2013 | by

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  • Margaret Drabble: “At parties, after a few drinks, I start asking people to supper, which I always regret.”
  • NaNoWriMo is upon us. Here are some inspirational quotes to help you get on with it.
  • “I do not remember all the details, but I do remember the plot.” Borges as teacher.
  • A nanny to London’s 1980s literary set (part of it, anyway) publishes a book of letters.
  • “The great thing about Bertie is that he is a very generous-spirited, nice chap, with a sunny outlook on life. Forcing myself to think like that was good for me. It didn’t affect the way I speak—I didn’t start saying ‘What ho, old fruit!’—but it did affect the way I think. It made me look on the bright side.” Sebastian Faulks on taking on Jeeves and Wooster
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    Good Little Girls, and Other News

    April 4, 2013 | by

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  • “Good little girls ought not to make mouths at their teachers for every trifling offense. This retaliation should only be resorted to under peculiarly aggravated circumstances.” Mark Twain’s advice to little girls, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky.
  • Speaking of: the always fun Wodehouse Prize shortlist is posted.
  • “British writing will be far less incisive and fun when he stops.” Tim Martin pays tribute to Iain Banks, who just revealed his terminal illness.
  • “Banks manages to be both popular and profound,” says Stuart Kelly in The Scotsman.
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    “Things Grown-Ups Talk About”

    January 18, 2013 | by

    Today is A. A. Milne’s birthday. While he is certainly best known as the creator of Winnie the Pooh, Milne was a prolific writer who came to resent his association with the beloved bear of very little brain. One of the more intriguing episodes of Milne’s life is his feud with author P. G. Wodehouse.

    The two men were initially friends: exactly the same age, and both comic writers, they moved in the same circles in 1920s London, playing on the same cricket team and contributing to many of the same publications. In 1928, they even collaborated on the adaptation of Wodehouse’s A Damsel in Distress. By the 1930s, their friendship had cooled somewhat—Wodehouse defenders cite jealousy—but it wasn’t until World War II that things became actively hostile. Read More »

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    The Fitzgerald-Wodehouse Friendship, and Other News

    January 7, 2013 | by

  • Robert McCrum: “In the department of lost meetings, one near-miss that’s always fascinated me is the on-off friendship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and P. G. Wodehouse, both of whom came to prominence in America at the end of the Great War.”
  • And so it begins: hot on the heels of best-of 2012, The Millions brings us the most anticipated reads of 2013.
  • New York digests the latest in self-help (or, as Barnes & Noble would have it, self-improvement) so you don't have to.
  • Can we separate the work of Ted and Sylvia from the myth?
  • One author dishes the dirt on publishing a book.

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