Monday, November 19, 2007

22 was a funnier number than 14

At the Telegraph, several extracts from Gary Dexter's book on the "story behind the story"--why is it Catch-22 as opposed to Catch-18, why is Bertie Wooster's servant called Jeeves, and why does the postman always ring twice? Here's a bit, though not the explanation:
'Had it been summer, he would have taken some literature out on to the cricket-field or the downs, and put in a little steady reading there, with the aid of a bag of cherries.' - P.G. Wodehouse, 'The Gold Bat' (1904).

My Man Jeeves (1919) was the first Wodehouse book with Jeeves in the title. There were 10 more: The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), Carry On, Jeeves (1925), Very Good, Jeeves (1930), Thank You, Jeeves (1934), Right Ho, Jeeves (1934), Ring for Jeeves (1953), Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954), Jeeves in the Offing (1960), Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963) and Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971).

Although My Man Jeeves was the first Jeeves title, Jeeves the gentleman's personal gentleman - possessor of the secret of how to make a perfect cup of tea and serve it precisely as his master is waking up - first made an appearance in the story Extricating Young Gussie in the Saturday Evening Post of 18 September, 1915. He had only two lines: 'Mrs Gregson to see you, sir', and, 'Very good, sir. Which suit will you wear?'

Wodehouse said in the introduction to the anthology The World of Jeeves (1967): 'It was only some time later, when I was going into the strange affair of The Artistic Career of Corky, that the man's qualities dawned upon me. I still blush to think of the off-hand way I treated him at our first encounter.'
Some literature, a little steady reading, a bag of cherries--heavenly...

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