There are 26 critical essays on P. G. Wodehouse.
Critical Essays on P. G. Wodehouse
Critical Essay by M. A. Sharwood Smith
7,198 words, approx. 24 pages
In the following essay, Smith offers a thematic analysis of Thank You, Jeeves, maintaining that Wodehouse's irreverent approach to plot and characters is his defining characteristic.
Critical Essay by Stephen Medcalf
7,055 words, approx. 24 pages
In the following essay, Medcalf praises Wodehouse for his innocence and originality, maintaining that his use of language “lies very much in one tradition of English writing, perhaps the most enduring and specifically English—humour.”
Critical Essay by Eberhard Späth
5,542 words, approx. 19 pages
In the following essay, Späth considers the character of Jeeves as a literary “superman,” and links him to the legendary archetype of detective novel hero.
Critical Essay by George Watson
4,788 words, approx. 16 pages
In the following essay, Watson traces the origins and development of Wodehouse's major character, Jeeves.
Critical Essay by Edward L. Galligan
4,406 words, approx. 15 pages
In the following essay, Galligan applauds the continuing interest in Wodehouse's work and deems him the master of literary farce.
Critical Essay by Melvin J. Lasky
3,221 words, approx. 11 pages
In the following essay, Lasky explores the American adventures of another Wodehouse character, Psmith.
Critical Essay by Mary Lydon
3,199 words, approx. 11 pages
In the following essay, Lydon recalls her initial pleasure reading Wodehouse's Jeeves stories.
Critical Essay by Michael Cohen
3,171 words, approx. 11 pages
In the following essay, Cohen describes the mild nature of Wodehouse's anti-American humor, asserting that “his bashing of Americans is as unmalicious as befits an Englishman who would eventually become an American citizen.”
Critical Essay by Barbara C. Bowen
2,659 words, approx. 9 pages
Clearly Rabelais and Wodehouse are worlds apart, in many ways. For instance, Rabelais is primarily an intellectual and Wodehouse often aggressively anti-intellectual; Rabelais is deeply committed to the reform of religious, political and social institutions, while Wodehouse remains serenely aloof from society's problems; Wodehouse's novels are based on plot and its ramifications, while Rabelais' are based on ideas; Rabelais delights in unbuttoned comedy, while Wodehouse's is alwa...
Critical Essay by Wilfrid Sheed
1,816 words, approx. 6 pages
Somewhere between the Romantic Revolution and the Great Victorian Exhibition of 1851 in England, suet pudding entered the English soul, after which it became almost impossible for that country to produce a pure artist. Despite generous help from Ireland, America and even Poland, any Englishman who had been to a public school felt and looked like a perfect chump, a tourist, in the world of Flaubert and Rimbaud. It was almost as if these schools, founded in the 1830's, had it for their main object that...
Critical Essay by Alexander Cockburn
1,532 words, approx. 5 pages
[The question of tone] is troubling for anyone writing about Wodehouse. High seriousness about him brings to mind poor Professor Scully. This professor's attempt, in 1902, to describe a smile scientifically was quoted by Richard Usborne in his fine book Wodehouse at Work. Scully doggedly dissected "the drawing back and slight lifting of the corners of the mouth, which partially uncover the teeth, the curving of the naso-labial furrows …" Wodehouse is peculiarly resistant to what ...
Critical Essay by Hilaire Belloc
1,290 words, approx. 4 pages
Some two or three years ago I was asked in the United States to broadcast a few words on my own trade of writing—what I thought of it and why I disliked it. (p. 342) Now in the course of this broadcast I gave as the best writer of English now alive, Mr. P. G. Wodehouse.
Critical Essay by Robert A. Hall, Jr.
1,073 words, approx. 4 pages
In the following essay, Hall analyzes Wodehouse's use of the transferred epithet, contending that it lends a comic effect to his fiction.
Critical Review by John Espey
1,042 words, approx. 4 pages
In the following review, Espey provides a positive review of an audiotape version of Right Ho, Jeeves.
Critical Essay by Peter Dickinson
1,026 words, approx. 3 pages
Light verse, for some reason, demands to be written in a rather old-fashioned way. The language can, and should, be as modern as you like, but it should still not merely scan and rhyme, but should do so with felicitous ingenuity. It should pour itself, without any contortions, into apparently complex molds. There is an enormous satisfaction in reading what could be, say, an extract from a legal document, full of whereases and notwithstandings, which the poet has contrived to arrange into triple-rhyming deca...
Critical Essay by Anthony Lejeune
1,005 words, approx. 3 pages
In the following essay, originally written in 1961, Lejeune claims that The Ice in the Bedroom is “an exhibition of easy mastery, of familiar skill, as incomparable in its special way as Fred Astaire's dancing.”
Critical Review by William Trevor
894 words, approx. 3 pages
In the following laudatory assessment of A Man of Means, Trevor praises the appealing nature of Wodehouse's fiction.
Critical Essay by C. David Benson
820 words, approx. 3 pages
[Wodehouse's last work, the posthumous] Sunset at Blandings, is actually only the preliminary typescript of the first 16 chapters (out of a planned 22), with the author's somewhat contradictory plans for ending and revising the work, plus notes and appendixes by Richard Usborne. The material of the novel will be familiar to readers of previous episodes of the Blandings "saga" (altogether, 12 novels and 10 short stories). A young woman is shipped off to the security of Blandings t...
Critical Essay by Malcolm Muggeridge
813 words, approx. 3 pages
A substantial cache of uncollected [material] such as David Jasen has got together [in The Uncollected Wodehouse] might seem surprising in view of Wodehouse's long and famous career as a writer and the many published volumes of his stories and occasional pieces. Yet here it is—juvenilia, early contributions to Punch, school stories, lyrics, romances in his inimitable vein—all the familiar Wodehousean offerings. And what is more, all up to scratch. (p. ix) Wodehouse was not given to gene...
Critical Review by Pamela Marsh
638 words, approx. 2 pages
In the following review, Marsh contends that Wodehouse's short story collection, Plum Pie,“may not contain top-notch examples of his skill, but it is still very good Wodehouse indeed.”
Critical Essay by R. C. Churchill
620 words, approx. 2 pages
A writer like Wodehouse who published over a hundred books cannot have been a Flaubert or a James Joyce, but in his own style and idiom he was a connoisseur of the mot juste, as careful to get the precise nuance of every Bertie Wooster slang phrase—so artfully contrasted with the stately idiom of Jeeves—as Joyce was to catch the precise accent of the various inhabitants of Dublin on that June day in 1904. Wodehouse in translation, like Dickens in translation, must lose some of his appeal. Bert...
Critical Essay by Sinclair Lewis
529 words, approx. 2 pages
When the meatier conversation at the party is over and you have drearily listened to the latest on Chiang Kaishek,… and the other topics which are regarded as conversation in these funereal days of repeal, how joyful it is to find that the host is not entirely a sadist, but is going to enliven the social seminar with a showing of clowns and magicians. In the book world, the magicians are the authors of literate detective stories…. Yet greater are the clowns, and of these the greatest living is...
Critical Essay by George Orwell
521 words, approx. 2 pages
[Professor Alfred North Whitehead] once remarked that every philosophy is coloured by a secret imaginative background which does not officially form part of its doctrines. Obviously this is even truer of fiction, but it has perhaps been less noticed that it is truest of all of very low-grade "light" fiction…. As a rule, the more lowbrow the novelist the more thoroughly he gives himself away, like the people who relate their dreams every morning at breakfast…. It is curious that, ...
Critical Essay by Dorothy Parker
352 words, approx. 1 pages
Well, Wodehouse and Bolton and Ken have done it again. Every time these three are gathered together, the Princess Theatre is sold out for months in advance. This thing of writing successes is just getting to be a perfect bore with them. They get up in the morning, look out of the window, and remark wearily, stifling a yawn, "Oh, Lord—nothing to do outdoors on a day like this. I suppose we might as well put over another 'Oh, Boy!'" From all present indications, "Oh, ...
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