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P. G. Wodehouse, The Art of Fiction / Literature

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Sir P. G. Wodehouse (1881 – 1975) is widely regarded as the greatest comic author of the 20th century. He wrote more than 70 novels and 200 short stories, creating numerous much-loved characters, including Lord Emsworth and his beloved Empress of Blandings, the inimitable Jeeves and Wooster, Mr Mulliner, Ukridge, Psmith and the Oldest Member. His humorous – often hilarious – articles were published in more than 80 magazines, including contributions to Punch over a period of 60 years.

Today Wodehouse is as loved as ever, and his vivid prose style and unique comic invention are recognised as major contributions to English fiction.

When I first went to see him, I telephoned P. G. Wodehouse and asked for directions from New York to his house on Long Island. He merely chuckled, as if I had asked him to compare Euclid with Einstein or attempt some other laughably impossible task. “Oh, I can’t tell you that,” he said. “I don’t have a clue.” I learned the route anyway, and my arrival for lunch, only ten minutes late, seemed to astonish him. “You had no trouble? Oh, that is good. That’s wonderful!” His face beaming at having in his house such a certified problem-solver, a junior Jeeves almost, he led me without further to-do to a telephone, which he had been dialing all morning in a futile effort to reach a number in New York. He had, of course, done everything right but dial the area code, an addition to the Bell system that had somehow escaped his attention since he had last attempted long distance. He was intensely pleased when New York answered, and I sunned myself in the warm glow of his gratitude for the rest of the day. All of which is by way of saying that Wodehouse, who lived four months past his ninety-third birthday, had discovered his own secret of long life: he simply ignored what was worrisome, bothersome, or confusing in the world around him.

His wife, Ethel, or his sister-in-law, Helen, did the worrying for him. On my three visits Ethel would hover around him at the beginning of our conversation to plump his pillow or fill his sherry glass. Wodehouse himself had not found it necessary to carry money in twenty years, and though he had spent most of his adult life in America, he still reckoned such things as book prices in pounds and shillings. His accent, like his arithmetic, remained pure English.

Wodehouse lived on twelve acres in Remsenburg, a pretty, quiet little town in eastern Long Island, and from his glass-enclosed study, and most of the rest of the house, all that he could see was greenery. He was as happily isolated there as if he were living in Blandings Castle itself. He enjoyed all the hoopla that surrounded him in his old age, but he also found the attention very tiring. “Everything more or less quiet here now,” he wrote me a week after he had been dubbed Sir Pelham, “but it has been hell with all the interviewers.” A month after that he died, as peacefully...


Продолжение читайте в журнале English4U №3 (март 2011) на который можно подписаться или купить здесь.

08 апреля 2011

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