The Wit and Wisdom of P. G. Wodehouse

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog in which I discussed a few different books of quotations, including those famous and those relatively unknown, many funny and some wise. Since then, I have bought another book of quotations, one which focuses on just one amazing author, P. G. Wodehouse. The book is called The Wit and Wisdom of P. G. Wodehouse, and is compiled and edited by Tony Ring.

I wanted to write a blog about this specific book for a number of reasons. Wodehouse was an amazing author, and a much loved humorist  during his long and illustrious career as a writer, during which he wrote nearly a hundred books. His books were quintessentially British, often making fun of the English aristocracy, but his writing was of such a nature as to be enjoyable by all kinds of readers. Evelyn Waugh believed that Wodehouse produced “three wholly original similes on each page,” which, if this is an exaggeration, is only a very slight one at that. Wodehouse’s ability to manipulate and play with words is unique, masterful and utterly joyful, and has inspired many writers over the last century.

This anthology includes some of the best quotes by Wodehouse from all his various novels and characters, and is compiled so that each left page contains witticisms, while the right hand pages have words of wisdom. For fans of Wodehouse, it is fun to indulge in some of these classic moments, while for newcomers it may provide a nice entrance into the world of this man’s magnificent mind.

Here are some of my favourites from this book:

Wit:

“Warm though the morning was, he shivered, as only a confirmed bachelor gazing into the naked face of matrimony can shiver.”

“He was in the acute stage of that malady which, for want of a better name, scientists call the heeby-jeebies.”

“‘…I assure you, on the word of an English gentleman, that this lady is a complete stranger to me.’ ‘Stranger?’ ‘A complete and total stranger.’ ‘Oh?’ said the bloke. ‘Then what’s she doing sitting in your lap?'”

“A melancholy-looking man, he had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life’s gas-pipe with a lighted candle.”

“It was one of those still evenings you get in the summer, when you can hear a snail clear its throat a mile away.”

Wisdom:

“It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.”

“It is a good rule in life never to apologise. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.”

“I was one of those men my mother always warned me against.”

“I attribute my whole success in life to a rigid observance of the fundamental rule – Never have yoursself tattooed with any woman’s name, not even her initials.”

“The advice I give to every young man starting to seek out a life partner is to find a girl whom he can tickle.”

“That’s the way to get on in the world – by grabbing your opportunities. Why, what’s Big Ben but a wrist-watch that saw its chance and made good.”

If you’ve never read any Wodehouse, I urge you to do so. I would perhaps suggest starting with one of the Jeeves and Wooster novels, of which there are plenty (there are also four seasons of a television show based on Jeeves and Wooster, which starred Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie – I always read these novels in their voices as a result).

Happy reading!