I’m not a Wodehouse connoisseur – nor do I even pretend to be one. It’s Ana that is much more the Wodehouse expert. But I have noticed a greater Wodehouse presence of late… from the BBC TV show Blandings (which divided opinion) to this particular news story – that there will be a brand new Jeeves and Wooster book.
How so!? Wodehouse died in 1975, and Jeeves and Wooster should only live on in fond memory – from the pages of well-thumbed books, or perhaps from the brief scenes of the 90s TV series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (see picture).
But it is so… Sebastian Faulks – author of Birdsong – who also wrote a new James Bond in 2008, has been approached by the Wodehouse estate to take up the mantle.
The publishers have promised a book “faithful to the history and personality of Wodehouse’s characters but by shining a different light on them will also show how robust, durable and lovable these creations are”, and announced that Jeeves and the Wedding Bells would publish on 6th November this year.
So far, opinions have been mixed – from the fearful and skeptical to the ambivalent. I’ve yet to see enthusiasm, and this lukewarm reception seems to be largely down to the fact that Wodehouse’s peculiar kind of humour simply cannot be replicated. His quick-witted lyricism is unmatched, and has created immortal characters and scenes that even those who haven’t read any Wodehouse can identify.
So could Faulks make a success of a new Jeeves and Wooster? His proven ability to take on the writing of another author (his Bond book pleasantly surprised critics) suggests that perhaps he is the best person for the job. As a self-professed Wodehouse fan, he should surely know the style inside-out, and be able to draw on this to create an admirable Jeeves and Wooster pastiche.
On the other hand, and as the nay-sayers are crying, Wodehouse is simply impossible to copy. His unique prose – not heavy, perhaps, in plot – is dense in wit and clever plays of language that only Wodehouse has ever seemed to produce. Faulks – a dab hand at the drama, the romance and the mystery – surely cannot take on this kind of humour and do it justice.
What do you think of Faulks writing a new Jeeves and Wooster?
Will you read Jeeves and the Wedding Bells?