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This report is taken from PN Review 182, Volume 34 Number 6, July - August 2008.

Not Jove? Frank Kuppner

I suspect the work must already have been done elsewhere, but it recently occurred to me that even in the books of a light-as-air, land-that-never-was humorist like P.G. Wodehouse, some characters do die, and that this sorry truism must pose a certain challenge to his nothing-ever-to-worry-about-really style. How then did he deal with Death, this quintessentially un-Wodehousian phenomenon? How, indeed. Since the Wodehouse Universe predominantly consists, for me at least, of the giant planet Jeeves, with Bertie Wooster a minor but indispensably attached satellite - though I can certainly see the glory of such as Uncle Fred Flits By - when The World of Jeeves recently came my way again (£3 this time, umpteenth-hand from Shelter, thirty-four short stories, '90th Birthday Edition'), I raced through it with an eye on the question of how this particular author treated the determinedly untwinkling question of ostensible personal extinction.

Such are the travails of dedicated scholarship. Not to keep polishing an unduly sharp tenterhook, I will straightway admit in forthright manner that the rich sequence of hilarious phrases which I had confidently anticipated, gently Wodehousifying death, simply failed to materialise. There was the occasional familiar, much-loved 'handed in his dinner-pail' - but very little else in that line. (Mention of a fish 'being jerked from the society of its loved ones on the end of a hook' is possibly the best of the meagre rest.)

Wodehouse advises us in his Introduction to ...

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