Wodehouse: Psmith II

May 7, 2019

Psmith in the City
P.G. Wodehouse
(Overlook, 2003) [1910]
208 p.

Psmith and Mike both leave school for a life of responsibility and upward mobility, and, as chance would have it, both land in the postage department of the New Asiatic Bank in London. Hilarity ensues. Befriending their excitable and meticulous supervisor by feigning to share his interest in football, they acquire the leisure to take tea and circle in the orbit of the bank’s manager, Mr Bickersdyke, on whose good will Psmith is intent on playing for his own amusement. Eventually Mike hears the call of the cricket field too strongly and, deserting his post, abandons bank life, Psmith following. In the end, Psmith is bound for Cambridge University, intent on studying law, and offers Mike an all-expense-paid berth at the same in the capacity of his personal secretary. The future is bright.

This was one of my favourite Wodehouse novels so far. Psmith is a splendid character who enlivens every page. Mike, thoughtfully, withdraws to the shadows so as not to distract. The sequence in which Psmith attends a political speech by “Comrade Bickersdyke” and rises to point out Bickersdyke’s appropriation of an episode in Three Men in a Boat was raucously funny. Really delightful.

**

Psmith, Journalist
P.G. Wodehouse
(Overlook, 2008) [1915]
256 p.

A year has passed, and Psmith and Mike have a term off at Cambridge. Mike and the cricket team head state-side, and Psmith follows.

The events of the story take place in New York City, with Mike mostly off-screen. Psmith encounters the Acting Editor of a homely little magazine called Cosy Moments, and, sensing an opportunity for adventure, convinces him to reboot his rag as an edgy political agitator; their cause: the degredations of New York’s tenement housing.

It’s a good premise, giving Psmith scope to talk his way into, and then out of, trouble, in his inimitable manner. The story goes places I’d not have expected, including into the world of boxing, and of gangsters, where Psmith is out of place. I enjoyed the book, but it lacked some of the sparkle of the earlier Psmith stories. It could be that I need to give him a rest for a while, to sharpen the appetite.

One Response to “Wodehouse: Psmith II”

  1. ashokbhatia Says:

    One of the truly endearing characters created by Plum!


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