Anatomy of a Book: Sunset at Blandings, by P.G. Wodehouse

indexand not for the first time he found himself wishing that he had a stronger will, or, alternatively, that Brenda had a weaker one. (p.11)

This is almost the last book P.G. Wodehouse wrote.

(Deirdre.) ‘I’ve often wondered how that name was spelled,’ said Vicky meditatively. ‘I suppose you start off with a capital D and then just try your luck.’ (p.76)

He was 93 and in hospital and still firing on mental all cylinders.

sixteen skeleton chapters of a Wodehouse novel that was to have gone to twenty-two. (p.104)

Unfortunately it is incomplete.

No scholar, as far as I know, had collected all the railway references and laid them out for inspection. …I have brought them all together. It was not difficult, only laborious. (p.187)

And following the last edited and typed chapter he wrote, this book dissects the world Wodehouse created and this too is unfortunate.

But once a scenario was leak-proof, with couples coupled and loners left happily alone, Wodehouse put together his first rough typescript and reckoned his main labour and slog-work was over. There remained the part he really enjoyed: revising, cutting, adding, adding, adding, shaping, smoothing to a high polish. (p.112)

In places though it does analyse and offer what it takes to write a good novel.

Changing Status:

Wodehouse’s narratives at Blandings often involved women who have been whisked away to the castle to prevent them seeing and marrying a penniless curate or artist, regardless of any wealth by the woman. These couples must get together at book’s end despite ruses of identity or thievery. The male must obtain some status in fact or reputation to be deemed worthy of his beloved by the overbearing Florence, Connie or other matriarch. It would be Lord Emsworth or his brother Galahad that would provide the good conscience.

High Stakes:

The two parties in love must be besotted with each other.

he was under no illusion that his pilgrimage was to terminate in lovers’ meeting. (p.62)

Page Turner:

Endeavours are thwarted at every turn. This might be by happenstance or coincidence or intervention by any number of characters/ The perils that couples face at Blandings come and go as much as the appetite of a pig might be studied – that is frequently.

Believable Characters:

The world Wodehouse created has a strict code of morals (p.109) so that good is always found in the end. Every character also had an outline of name, status, relations, intentions and description: Much too tall for his width (p.109). Wodehouse had a design for the world, even if he described it as making a sort of musical comedy without music and ignoring real life altogether (preface).

Educate:

One can read to find how the world of Wodehouse worked. To see the stereotype upper-crust of English characters and their interactions with the managing servants and each other. Their personal codes of behaviour being mocked by a code of joy and much equality, as long as each is satisfied with their life. Other than this, the Wodehouse books give a good laugh. The latter is a more enjoyable purpose to the reading.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Book: Sunset at Blandings, by P.G. Wodehouse

  1. Reblogged this on ashokbhatia and commented:
    Can sunlit humour of a Plum kind be put under a microscope and analyzed? Opinions on this differ but many of us do derive intense satisfaction in doing just that.
    Here is a post which does that with much elan.
    Enjoy!

Think something? Then say something here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s