Anatomy of a Book: A Pelican at Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse

51D52HstAdL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Once more Beach with that lucid brain of his dispelled the fog of mystery which had threatened to defy solution. (p. 8)

One of the perks of reading a P.G.Wodehouse novel is the use of language.

How different, he was thinking, from the bad old era when his sister Constance had been the Fuhrer of Blandings Castle. Under her regime dinner would have meant dressing and sitting down… (p.9)

And there is always a catastrophe about to befoul an admired character. In this case it is Lord Emsworth.

‘Lady Constance, m’lord.’
For one awful moment Lord Emsworth thought he had said ‘Lady Constance.’ (p.11)

The use of language and the relatively horrible events occurring to the lives of characters is what make the Wodehouse books such fun. There relative horribleness of the events is always in relation to character’s personal objective. As comedy, Wodehouse does not put lives but frequently pride in jeopardy, and the protection of pride or other moods can be funny to read.

Changing Status:
Lord Emsworth begins the book sitting comfortably alone reading a book about pigs. As relatives and guests arrive he’s comfort is ruffled, and he calls for his brother to aid him.

High Stakes/jeopardy:
Throughout there are issues with being caught sneaking to visit a pig, stealing an over-valued painting, and being uncovered as a fine individual. These are personal, but ultimately irrelevant objectives that are fun to watch break.

Believable Characters:
It is interesting how Wodehouse paints a real world to his tales. The is such relatable absurdity to fearing personal status, and each character has quirks which are maintained. Be this in always trying to appear calm or always being arrogant. Sometimes this provides humour even when the character is not connected to a scene.
…(if he was there) Beach would have felt that this was just what the grounds of Blandings Castle needed to bring them to perfect. (p.210)
And for that to be funny, you have to understand Beach – which you do by then.

Time Pressure:
Sometimes days are skipped just to get to the next good bit and explained by coincidental desires to stay in. This might feel unrealistic, but it is forgivable for the fun that follows.

There is something real about the life of the aristocratic types who visit Blandings Castle. They do exist, and the world they live in makes sense. It also explains a little about the old life of people in London who used to frequent the Pelican Club.


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