Wodehouse: A Life Hardcover – 2 Sep 2004
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'Excellent biography...sensible, loving and well-written' -- Daily Mail
'Excellent...those who delight in Wodehouse will also delight in McCrum's biography.' -- John Mortimer
'Lucid, fair-minded and proper...No lover of Wodehouse will want to be without this masterly appraisal' -- Stephen Fry
'Wodehouse' is a lucid, scholarly and constantly engrossing biography of one of the greatest comic writers of the 20th century.' -- Guardian
Wonderful - one of those biographies that lives up to all ones hopes and expectations...' -- John Le Carre --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Robert McCrum is the author of six novels and two works of non-fiction, The Story of English and My Year Off. He is literary editor of the Observer and lives in London.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a diligent and comprehensive but rather dull dissertation, rattling off facts in an efficient chronology, but lacking in passion, or even original insights about its subject. When McCrum does dare to venture an opinion he tends to contradict himself a few pages later (e.g. giving conflicting summaries of PGW's academic success, and emphasising that he was a loner but then describing another situation as satisfying his need for companionship).
There are voluminous notes, but there is no superscript marker when reading the chapters, so you don't know when there is additional information, which is intensely irritating and makes the notes somewhat pointless.
For a far more enjoyable and informative read, see Barry Phelps' P G Wodehouse Man and Myth (out of print, but surely available from Amazon Marketplace and abebooks etc).
In addition, I knew that P.G. Wodehouse was very prolific, but I never quite understood how he did it. I was fascinated to see how disciplined he was to keep doing his daily quota of words. As someone who likes to write as well, this was a positive inspiration to keep to that discipline myself. I was also pleased to find out more about how he developed his plots and characters and did his rewriting. If you combine this book with Sunset at Blandings, you can get a quite helpful perspective on the details of his craft.
Next, I am always running into veiled and ambiguous references to P.G. Wodehouse having done some broadcasts for German radio during World War II while living in Germany. It was never clear to me what that was all about. Now, this book gives me enough information to have views on the subject. I hadn't realized that Wodehouse had been interned by German forces in prison environments for over a year before the broadcasts.Read more ›
McCrum is clearly a Wodehouse fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Master's work but he avoids the mistakes that have bedevilled other biographers of Wodehouse, in that: (a) he doesn't try to write like PGW and (b) he maintains his objectivity when appraising Wodehouse's books. The problem he faces is that - the notorious wartime broadcasts apart - Wodehouse really didn't do very much with his life apart from travel (in the early years) and write. The world he created - the world of Jeeves and Wooster, Blandings Castle, Mr Mulliner and Uncle Fred - was the one in which he felt most at home and the one in which he evidently spent most of his time. His "real" world contained no scandals (the broadcasts apart), no politics, no messy family life; he was simply an amiable if slightly remote man and a ferociously hard-working writer.
But it is this second point that I find so interesting. The care, dedication and attention to detail that Wodehouse put into the creation of all those seemingly effortless, lighter-than-air confections is astonishing. Luckily, like many of his generation, he was a daily letter writer and left behind a mountain of correspondence which allows McCrum to detail the painstaking way in which he mapped out his plots, outlined his characters, drafted early scenarios and gritted his teeth through endless re-writes until the whole thing rose as magically as a souffle. This is the sort of stuff I want to read about in a biography of an author and this is where McCrum delivers the goods.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent biography, giving a clear picture of Wodehouse and his passion for writing, the thing in his life which seems to have made him really happy. Read morePublished 21 months ago by B.E.
I knew Wodehouse only through his books with some idea of his being in disgrace after collusion with the Nazis during World War II. Read morePublished on 17 Sept. 2011 by Tallscot
This is a thoroughly researched piece of work that is well written and full of all the factual information anyone interested in Wodehouse might need but it is too sympathetic to... Read morePublished on 20 May 2011 by John Fitzpatrick