Blast From the Past: Psmith

My blog has been around for 2.5 years. I thought about doing a recap of some of the high points since the last retrospective, but that would be boring.

Instead, I will put up a little series of posts that I’m most proud of, which are my Psmith musings. If you ever notice my avatar in various places, it’s Psmith. As to why I identify with him… I don’t know, possibly I have the same ridiculousness about me. If you ever meet me in person, the first word that comes to mind is: ditz what uses fancy words.

Anyways. Here are the posts.

In the Beginning Was Psmith

How I got interested in Psmith, and why I like him.

He’s cheeky and dignified; selfish and generous; incorrigible trickster who’s one half Jeeves in his powers of manipulation and coolness, and one half Fred (another popular Wodehouse character) in his sending up of society and comical insouciance.

Schoolboy Days

Discussing the boarding school fiction of Mike and Psmith, drawing on some parallels with the Harry Potter series, then going into detail about the book itself.

And yes, Psmith is sending up just about every other Boy’s Boarding School story ever. And it’s more or less the case that whenever he speaks, his dramatic and serious recital, contrasted to its ridiculous content, generates at times an absurd amount of humor.

Work is a Mug’s Job

Discussing Psmith in the City, where Psmith gets a job, and it’s hilarious. Mike and Psmith in the workplace, with the concentration where it belongs on Psmith.

If he’s a less than ideal student for the school master who wishes to squash his friends, he’s an even less ideal employee for the manager who likes making his underlings’ lives miserable. Which is exactly what happens in Psmith in the City, when a wealthy and vindictive bank manager convinces Psmith’s father to put Psmith under his wing in the working world as opposed to sending him off to Cambridge for a law degree.

Reality Bites

Discussing Psmith, Journalist, which suddenly takes a turn for the serious. Also, there is unfortunately racism, and I unfortunately do not talk about it at all, except for a mention. Sigh. A coward is I.

Sadistically, because Psmith is so resourceful, cunning, arguably insane, and brave, Wodehouse decides to throw him into the deep end with the sharks of the New York underworld. The result is an unsettling hybrid of American violence, yellow journalism, upper crust corruption, lower class hell, and the understated British stiff upper lip—with Psmith’s distinct and unique touch.

Love is an Umbrella

Discussing Leave It to Psmith, written in Wodehouse’s more romantic comedy days. It’s amongst one of his best. And he’s also fairly sadistic, but only in how he thrusts Psmith into these situations (actually, come to think of it, that’s been the way ever since Psmith in the City, only it’s much worse here, because Screw The Rules, I Have Money is no longer in effect).

For the first time in the series, we see a Psmith who is not only vulnerable in the physical sense (we saw that in Psmith, Journalist) but also in the more intimate mindset sense. This may be why Leave It to Psmith is viewed by some as the weakest Psmith book, because he doesn’t come across as a force of nature—he’s “just” a very smart man. But in the sense of handling the personality of Psmith from all angles, Leave It to Psmith is the strongest Psmith book.

Love is an Umbrella: Acoustic Redux

Not part of the Psmith series, but talks a little bit about Marié Digby’s acoustic cover for the song “Umbrella”, which is my favorite cover, and reminds me more than any other performance of Leave it to Psmith.