George Orwell wrote in his 1945 essay 'In Defence of P. G. Wodehouse' that 'Wodehouse's real sin has been to present the English upper classes as much nicer people than they are. All through his books certain problems are constantly avoided. Almost without exception his moneyed young men are unassuming, good mixers, not avaricious: their tone is set for them by Psmith, who retains his own upper-class exterior but bridges the social gap by addressing everyone as "Comrade".'
Psmith has perhaps been overlooked in favour of Wodehouse's most famous creations Jeeves and Bertram Wooster, whose antics have been so brilliantly potrayed on the small screen but which truly come alive in readings such as CSA Word's excellent Right Ho, Jeeves, with the perfect modulations of Martin Jarvis at the helm.
Whether Orwell is right about how 'nice' Wodehouse's upper classes are portrayed is open to discussion. This listener is beginning to find the misogyny and recklessness of young Bertram rather cruel, and is even wondering whether Wodehouse, far from being under the thrall of the right, as some claim his broadcasts from German-occupied France during the Second World War demonstrate he was, is in fact Marxist by inclination.
Regardless, let it be said that Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, Tuppy Glossop, Aunt Dahlia and the very first celebrity chef, Anatole, will bring a smile to even the gloomiest listener. This 4-CD set will be played time and time again and will never fail to amuse.
Quite simply, brilliant.
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