Monday, May 19, 2014

Wodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum (review by Andrew R. '17)

Wodehouse: A LifeWodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

20th-century humorist P. G. Wodehouse may have lived a life in which, by his own admission, “nothing really interesting happened, just meals and taking the dog for a walk,” but he still managed to leave behind countless thousands of pages of letters, articles, interviews, and fiction when he passed away in the 1970s—and it’s clear that dedicated biographer Robert McCrum has sifted through almost this entire mountain of material. Wodehouse: A Life is a tough read, not least because its quintessentially British subject gives rise to many quintessentially British references (Dickens; Eton; Lord Haw-Haw) that American readers would be hard-pressed to understand. Still, given the difficulty of studying a man whose ninety-four-year life was characterized mainly by dull monotony, McCrum has done a commendable job critiquing Wodehouse’s work and analyzing his thought processes in this nuanced look at the humorist’s history. I would recommend this biography not to hardened fans of Jeeves and Wooster, but to readers who are only beginning to delve into Wodehouse’s body of work; Wodehousian apprentices will likely be able to better interpret McCrum’s literary critiques as recommendations for their next humorous read. - Andrew R. '17

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