ABSTRACT

While he is best known for his Jeeves and Bertie Wooster stories, P.G. Wodehouse was a prolific writer who penned many other novels, stories, and musical comedy libretti, the latter of which played an enormous role in the development of American musical theater. This collection re-examines Wodehouse in the context of recent scholarship on the middlebrow, attending to his self-conscious relationship to the literary marketplace and his role in moving musical comedy away from vaudeville’s lowbrow associations towards the sophistication of the Wodehouse style. The focus on the middlebrow creates a critical context for serious critical consideration of Wodehouse’s linguistic playfulness and his depictions of social class within England. The contributors explore Wodehouse’s fiction and libretti in reference to philosophy, depictions of masculinity, World War I Britain, the periodical market, ideas of Englishness, and cultural phenomena such as men’s fashion, food culture, and popular songwriting. Taken together, the essays draw attention to the arbitrary divide between high- and middlebrow culture and make a case for Wodehouse as a writer whose games with language are in keeping with modernist experimentation with artistic expression.

chapter |14 pages

Introduction to Middlebrow Wodehouse

chapter 1|20 pages

Know Your Audience

Middlebrow Aesthetic and Literary Positioning in the Fiction of P.G. Wodehouse
ByAnn-Marie Einhaus

chapter 2|16 pages

Reading Up or Curling Up with a Book

Aspiring and Promiscuous Readers in P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Bertie Stories
ByAnn Rea

chapter 3|22 pages

Before Jeeves

Impudence in P.G. Wodehouse’s Novels, 1909–23
ByMichael T. Williamson

chapter 4|14 pages

P.G. Wodehouse and the First World War

ByGeorge Simmers

chapter 5|18 pages

The Prison Camp as Public School

Wodehouse, School Stories and the Second World War
ByCaleb Richardson

chapter 6|18 pages

The Place of the Pig

Blandings, Barsetshire and Britain
ByDebra Rae Cohen

chapter 7|30 pages

P.G. Wodehouse and the American Musical Comedy

Innovations in Writing
ByBasil Considine

chapter 8|16 pages

Wooster the Musician

ByKenneth Kreitner

chapter 9|22 pages

Philosophy with a Smile

ByRichard Hall

chapter 10|18 pages

‘A Fairly Unclouded Life’

Upper-Class Masculinity in Crisis in the Early Jeeves and Wooster
ByRoz Tuplin

chapter 11|20 pages

The Queer Domesticity of Bertie and Jeeves

ByBrian D. Holcomb

chapter 12|20 pages

Problematic Menswear in P.G. Wodehouse and Dornford Yates

ByKate Macdonald

chapter 13|18 pages

In the Soup

Food and Hospitality in Wartime Wodehouse
ByAriel Buckley