"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Currently in the car I'm listening to The Code of the Woosters. I find myself listening to snippets at a time, as the turns of phrase are so rich you have to pause to digest. Oh, to craft one sentence as deftly witty as each of Wodehouse's in succession – never mind a paragraph. I'm reminded of the Kenyan marathoners: Who among us can run a mile in 4:50? They run 26 of them in a row and appear barely winded at the end.
So the great P. G. was making his presence felt in my life once more. And I soon learnt that I still had much to learn. How to smoke plain cigarettes, how to drive a 1927 Aston Martin, how to mix a Martini with five parts water and one part water (for filming purposes only), how to attach a pair of spats in less than a day and a half, and so on.
But the thing that really worried us, that had us saying "crikey" for weeks on end, was this business of The Words. Let me give you an example. Bertie is leaving in a huff: "'Tinkerty tonk,' I said, and I meant it to sting." I ask you: how is one to do justice of even the roughest sort to a line like that? How can any human actor, with his clumsily attached ears, and his irritating voice, and his completely misguided hair, hope to deliver a line as pure as that? It cannot be done. You begin with a diamond on the page, and you end up with a blob of Pritt, The Non-Sticky Sticky Stuff, on the screen…
Naturally, one hopes there were compensations in watching Wodehouse on the screen - pleasant scenery, amusing clothes, a particular actor's eyebrows - but it can never replicate the experience of reading him. If I may go slightly culinary for a moment: a dish of foie gras nestling on a bed of truffles, with a side-order of lobster and caviar may provide you with a wonderful sensation; but no matter how wonderful, you simply don't want to be spoon-fed the stuff by a perfect stranger. You need to hold the spoon, and decide for yourself when to wolf and when to nibble.
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Lance Mannion ponders the question: Would Peter Wimsey have been chummy with Bertie Wooster?