Classics, fiction, short stories

My Man Jeeves and Other Early Jeeves Stories.

my man jeeves early stories

My Man Jeeves and Other Early Jeeves Stories [with biographical introduction], Kindle Edition, by P.G. Wodehouse.Short story collection contains stories of varied publishing dates between 1912 and 1919.

My familiarity with P.G. Wodehouse is limited and quite recent, after reading Krysta’s review of My Man Jeeves at Pages Unbound. I only realized after starting it that the volume I purchased contains a few stories which don’t include Jeeves -or his boss Bertie Wooster- at all, but were among Wodehouse’s early work featuring the narrator Reggie Pepper.

The basic gist of the stories is that of a young wealthy man living well in the big city. Some stories are set in London, while others are set in New York City. This is a book I turned to specifically in the hope that it would make me laugh. And it did. I actually laughed out loud several times while reading Wodehouse’s short stories featuring the genius valet, the narrator’s “man, Jeeves”.

Our narrator, employer of the titular valet, finds himself endlessly involved in the near constant dramas and dilemmas that befall his male friends. Most of these problems which require a unique solution fall in the categories of money crises and romantic hi jinks. Wodehouse is a master at one liners and while I find Jeeves brilliantly entertaining, the narrator and supporting casts are equally engaging and funny.

The great thing about these books is that because they are short stories, they can be enjoyed in bits and pieces without the pressure of trying to complete the whole book. That’s what I intend to do with the additional volumes I’ve purchased since reading this one. The original My Man Jeeves is available on Kindle right now for free.

I’ll round this one out with some of my favorite lines from the stories (all quotes copied from Goodreads).

From My Man Jeeves:

“…there occurred to me the simple epitaph which, when I am no more, I intend to have inscribed on my tombstone. It was this:
“He was a man who acted from the best motives. There is one born every minute.”
From Right Ho, Jeeves:
“You know how it is with some girls. They seem to take the stuffing right out of you. I mean to say, there is something about their personality that paralyses the vocal cords and reduces the contents of the brain to cauliflower.”
From How Right You Are, Jeeves:
“The snag in this business of falling in love, aged relative, is that the parties of the first part so often get mixed up with the wrong parties of the second part, robbed of their cooler judgement by the party of the second part’s glamour. Put it like this: the male sex is divided into rabbits and non-rabbits and the female sex into dashers and dormice, and the trouble is that the male rabbit has a way of getting attracted by the female dasher (who would be fine for the non-rabbit) and realizing too late that he ought to have been concentrating on some mild, gentle dormouse with whom he could settle down peacefully and nibble lettuce.”
From My Man Jeeves:
“I’m not absolutely certain of my facts, but I rather fancy it’s Shakespeare — or, if not, it’s some equally brainy lad — who says that it’s always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole, and more than usually braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with a bit of lead piping.”
From Leave it to Jeeves, which you can read free online here:
“Oh, Jeeves,’ I said; ‘about that check suit.’
Yes, sir?’
Is it really a frost?’
A trifle too bizarre, sir, in my opinion.’
But lots of fellows have asked me who my tailor is.’
Doubtless in order to avoid him, sir.’
He’s supposed to be one of the best men in London.’
I am saying nothing against his moral character, sir.”
From Carry On, Jeeves:
“What’s the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don’t yield to them?”
These stories are full of pith, humorous one liners tinged with truths about life and human nature. I highly suggest them.

4 out of 5 stars.

Content advisory: This is another instance where clean does not equal child friendly. These clean, funny stories are clearly written with an adult audience as the target audience.

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fiction, short stories, Uncategorized

Big ideas offered in short stories.

In preparing for a class I’ll be teaching this semester, I have been reading a number of short stories. What started out as an exploration of short stories appropriate for middle school aged students turned into a reading of many other short stories purely for the enjoyment.

Inadvertently, I stumbled upon writings that helped me hone my thoughts on a number of issues, one in particular that has jump started my stalled research on a potential book topic. As a result, I am developing a true love of short stories, and encourage you to take the time to read a few. For people who don’t have copious amounts of time to devote to reading for whatever reason, they are an excellent way to read and enjoy thought-provoking, well structured stories.

A few good reads include (each can be read online at the linked titles):

  • White Nights, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The ironic title of this story notwithstanding, the tale of this lovelorn, Mitty-esque protagonist stayed with me for a long time after I finished it.
  • The Necklace, by Guy de Maupassant. I chose this one for the slate of stories for our class. This lesson in the perils of female vanity is a timeless tale. Well worth the read.
  • Sweat, by Zora Neale Hurston. The tragic story of a black washerwoman and her abusive, insecure husband. The southern dialect takes a few paragraphs to get used to.
  • The Land Lady, by Roald Dahl. A creepy tale with a lot of room for imaginary exercise. We’ll be using this one in my class this semester.
  • Spunk, also by Zora Neale Hurston. This story of a fatal love triangle, contrasted against the tragic Sweat, exemplifies the observable love/hate relationship Hurston seemed to have with the ideas of love and marriage. On the one hand she found strong men electrifying but was equally wary of weakness in a man masquerading as strength. Again, language barrier alert.
  • The Gift of the Magi, by O Henry. I hesitated to include this one since it is so well known, but it’s probably been a long time since most of us have read it. A wonderful story employing literary irony and the beauty of selfless marital sacrifice. We’re using this one in my class semester because it’s more than just a Christmas story.

Feel free to add more short stories in the comments.