I realise that the author I am talking about in this post may not be wholly familiar to Americans. However, to those of English or Commonwealth descent, PG Wodehouse is a completely familiar writer.
Many of us grew up on the magic of PG Wodehouse, and there are groups on Facebook that fiercely defend their favourite PG Wodehouse character.
This book, ‘What Ho’, is a collection of his writings across the various characters he created. Prolific man, he was. It seems he wrote about 90 books in his lifetime, and these are books meant to be read.
As Stephen Fry, in his introduction to the book says, the achievement of PG Wodehouse lies in his mastery of “Plot, Character and Language, and the greatest of these, by far, is Language”.
This is so very true. You can attempt to copy PG, but you will fall short. Once ensared by his magic, you never escape.
His mastery of language, like that of many masters, has few peers.
It is indeed masterly, and when I look at what has happened to modern language and communication, it can almost make you weep.
When I write ‘Mary Jane’, it is almost always with fountain pen. Then comes the second draft on the computer.
In the days of my youth, I used to write long letters by hand, as did many of us. Then came e-mail.
We would still start an email with a ‘Dear Rajiv, please do move your arse…’. Now it they start, ‘Rajiv, move your arse….’. Long on the imperative, and short on humour and camaraderie.
E-Mails too, are vanishing, as are greeting cards.
Greeting cards, with wet tongues pasting stamps, went the way of E-Cards. These are now going the way of Mass Greetings forwarded on WhatsApp to many, many WhatsApp groups.
Emoticons replace Emotions, and expressive language has given way to cartoon characters.
In PG Wodehouse’s world, there is time for leisure. There is time for fun, for scrumpets and tea, for strolls under the moonlit night, and nights of revelry at The Drones.
There is time for a merry turn of phrase, and the luxury of sitting down to a good lunch.
We have many means of communication these days, but not the time to sit and talk. The number of words in the dictionary has increased, but our vocabulary has shrunk.
Yet, at times, there is the time to sit in the balcony – and not in the traffic – and escape into the magical world of a great, great writer.