the master

Walk into any bookstore these days and one finds yard upon yard of Wodehouse, much of it in fresh editions. Why is he so imperishable, fresh as a Wooster boutonnière, when so many other writers of his generation have vanished, long since past their sell-by date? A writer with an eye to literary immortality would do well to consider the Wodehousian oeuvre.

It’s not rocket science. The Master revealed the secret himself in a 1935 letter to Bill Townend, his old Dulwich school chum and the recipient of most of the letters here. It was a question, he said, of “making the thing frankly a fairy story and ignoring real life altogether.” Wodehouse’s admirer and defender Evelyn Waugh framed it perfectly; or as Jeeves might say, quoting Plautus, Rem acu tetigisti. (“You have hit the nail on the head.”)