Everyone and his butler thinks he can do the Wodehouse voice. They’re all wrong, but Schott’s version, a painstaking facsimile rendered in spun sugar, has its own particular charm.
From 1915 to 1974, the British humorist and immortal genius P.G. Wodehouse tickled readers’ palates with tales of the well-born, well-heeled Bertie Wooster and his unflappable valet, Jeeves. Wodehouse balanced frenetic plots with wordplay that drew its zing from the contrast between Bertie’s breeziness and Jeeves’ formality. All the elements are here in Schott’s version: country weekends with the “Aged Relative,” impersonations, taxi chases, narrow escapes across rooftops, matrimonial engagements that threaten like thunderstorms. Familiar characters stay in character: Madeline Bassett moons over daisy chains, Roderick Spode stomps around in his fascist black shorts, Uncle Tom obsesses over antique silver, and Bingo, Freddie, Barmy, Tuppy, and Catsmeat booze it up with Bertie at the Drones Club. Schott, known for his charming trivia (Schott's Quintessential Miscellany, 2011, etc.), is capable of true Wodehousian flights in lines like “From across the auditorium came a clatter of chairs and the resounding ‘thud’ of a tall man overestimating a low door” or “The majority of Dronesmen suffer from advanced cases of ergophobia—a sloth-inducing affliction that is as crippling as it is contagious. Medical Science has hitherto been reluctant to recognize ergophobia as a genuine diagnosis, but if Medical Science ever popped into the Drones Club on a weekday afternoon, then Medical Science’s bow tie would spin round and round in amazement.” But where the master’s own voice seems to burble forth as effortlessly as a gutter’s in a downpour, Schott gives the impression of infinite—if gleeful—labor. He even includes endnotes. The endnotes are a joy, as one might expect from the author of Schott’s Miscellany, but still.
Anyone who hasn’t read the original Jeeves and Wooster stories should start with the master himself, but fans longing for more will welcome Schott’s homage, which was authorized by the Wodehouse estate.