Why Would You Ever Do That to Wodehouse?

This has been distracting me all day.

Here’s the original starting text of “Bertie Changes His Mind” from P.G. Wodehouse’s collection, Carry on, Jeeves. (It’s the only Jeeves story that’s actually narrated by the inimitable Jeeves rather than fluffanutter Bertie.)

It has happened so frequently in the past few years that young fellows starting in my profession have come to me for a word of advice, that I have found it convenient now to condense my system into a brief formula. “Resource and Tact” — that is my motto. Tact, of course, has always been with me a sine qua non; while as for resource, I think I may say that I have usually contrived to show a certain modicum of what I might call finesse in handling those little contretemps which inevitably arise from time to time in the daily life of a gentleman’s personal gentleman.

It’s quite a different texture from the usual amusing Bertie Wooster prattling. Jeeves is such a refined, crafty, and deliciously underhanded fellow. (Oh, Charles Stross, I blame you and Saturn’s Children for my sudden revival of interest in Jeeves stories of yore.)

Now there’s this thing I discovered, which makes me want to hurl.

Here’s the beginning of “Bertie Changes His Mind” in the collection Jeeves and Friends, by P.G. Wodehouse… but retold by Clare West.

It has happened so frequently in the past that young fellows starting in my profession have come to me for a word of advice, that I have found it convenient to put my answer into a few words. Resource and tact – that is what I advise. Tact, of course, has always been part of my nature, and as for resource, well, I think I may say that I have shown a certain intelligence when solving those little problems that appear from time to time in the daily life of a gentleman’s personal gentleman.

Yes, something’s different here, isn’t it. I can’t put my finger on what.

Oh wait, don’t tell me…

Someone stripped out all the pop of Wodehouse’s language and style choices.

I know I’d roll in my grave.

Lest you think this is limited to the very odd-out story in the Jeeves literature, see the original text of “Jeeves Takes Charge”, which is narrated by the much more usual suspect, Bertie Wooster:

Now, touching this business of old Jeeves — my man, you know — how do we stand? Lots of people think I’m much too dependent on him. My Aunt Agatha, in fact, has even gone so far as to call him my keeper. Well, what I say is: Why not? The man’s a genius. From the collar upward he stands alone, I gave up trying to run my own affairs within a week of his coming to me.

Here’s the text “retold” by Clare West:

Now, this business of old Jeeves – my valet, you know – well, a lot of people, like my Aunt Agatha, think I’m much too dependent on him. And what I say is, why not? The man’s super-intelligent. I stopped trying to organize my own life a week after he came to work for me.

As someone else once said, What fuckery is this?

Don’t waste your money on Jeeves and Friends; go to the actual collections. Here’s a Wikipedia page that keeps track of what story went where(s).

And will somebody out there please get Penguin to put Carry On, Jeeves, at least, out as a Kindle edition? The collection was published in 1927 in the U.S., though. Copyright in the U.S. would have expired in 2002—or would it? Argh.

I really want to get Carry On, Jeeves into Project Gutenberg now if it’s eligible. But my Penguin book politely states

Copyright by the Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate
All rights reserved

The moral right of the author has been asserted

No dates attached.

I guess this means no Project Gutenberg edition.

… Yes, this means I’ll probably end up scanning in Carry On, Jeeves and learning to apply OCR techniques to create a private-use-only Kindle book.

Back to reading Zoe’s Tale now.

One thought on “Why Would You Ever Do That to Wodehouse?

  1. I landed on your page looking for a e-copy of Carry On, Jeeves. And oh, the blasphemy that you subjected me too. There are people out in the world who get paid to make literary works BAD? I am going to take some time to wrap my head around that.

    Anyways, I have a really old, frail, copy of Carry On, Jeeves, with Ian Carmicael and Dennis Price on the cover. I don’t mind the oldness, and can be careful with the frailness, but I needed a e-copy to read on a flight I am about to board. Unfortunately, I will have to read some other book today. Dang, I really had set myself up for reading Carry On, Jeeves today.

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