Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Defense of Wodehouse

P.G. Wodehouse is not someone that I studied in school. In fact, if it weren't for industriously reading friends, I wouldn't know his name at all. Why is that?

I'll be straight: I don't know why. Without making broad negative assumptions about academia (which I don't want to make because I've learned a lot from there) I can't think of anything that would stop Wodehouse from making a terrific subject for English classes.

His language is sharp. I can see that argument that the slang is dated, but it's not something that is distracting and slang, more than 'proper' language says more about the time a piece was written in--making it a valuable tool for understanding history and the development of language. (Yes, texting language says a lot about the tech savvy and speed of our current culture.)

The stories are developed in a classical style. There's a three-to-five act structure involved in the pieces. Even if a story is about cow-shaped creamers, does the fact that the stories are shaped similar to Shakespeare's comedies mean nothing?

Plus there's the historical aspect of his stories--not just language, but subject matter. Most of what we've discussed the last couple months were Wodehouse's works pre-WWII. (So, lots of butlers and whatnot.) But I bet an interesting comparison could be made between his pre- and post- works. So the pieces are relevent there too.

Any other ideas on would be good to study in Wodehouse? What writers have you studied in college/high school that would compare to Wodehouse? Any? Humor writers?



***Sorry for those who saw this post as blank earlier!  My own computer is in 'the shop' and I'm adjusting to the husband's computer.

2 comments:

  1. I can't imagine why either. On the other hand, you only get five years or so to hand out reading lists to students - I've never read Lord of the Flies, for instance. Shakespeare's a given but he seems to be the only constant across most curricula.

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  2. I would say Jerome K. Jerome. He was before Plum's time but you could find there are some definite similarities between the two. And of course Evelyn Waugh.

    That said, I was very really amused by the title of the post!

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