In Wodehouse’s first story of the exploits of Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves, many of the familiar details are present: the language, Bertie’s aunts, and the predicament that needs resolving.
But there was one notable exception: Jeeves scarcely got a mention. “I still blush to think of the off-hand way I treated him at our first encounter,” wrote Wodehouse. He would flesh him out later. “[A] tallish man, with one those dark, shrewd faces” who brings order to the scrape-ridden world of Bertie and his friends with noiseless omniscience. In that first story, however, there is no hint that we are in the presence of a “bird of the ripest intelligence”, who “From the collar upward…stands alone.”
I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten around to this story. My first foray into this part of Wodehouse’s world was with one or two stories from Very Good, Jeeves, which being written in the late 20s was beyond establishing many of the principles. When I saw that another book, Carry On, Jeeves, began with what you might call an origin story (originally published in 1916), I read through that one before returning to the other. I like to keep things in order.
Jeeves and Wooster came into play for Glenn Fisher the other day when he praised these habit of two writers he admires. “Both JG Ballard and PG Wodehouse challenged themselves to write 1,000 words a day.”
That may be just the idea I need to press ahead with my own goals.