Monday, October 16, 2006

From Wodehouse to Wittgenstein

Intrigued? So was I. But the title of Anthony Quinton's book turns out to be a trick. Quinton has essays on these titans of the twentieth century, but the essays are quite distinct.

My disappointment was more severe because it is so easy to find connections between them. They share, among other things, a formidable attention to language, association with a notorious Club – the Drones and the Moral Sciences, respectively – and a fondness for double-barreled names: Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Not to mention P.G.'s mid-career conversion from the logical atomism of Psmith in the City to the mature linguistic pluralism of Right Ho, Jeeves!


Blogger Kieran Setiya said...

On a related note: I recommend Peter Cannon's parodic synthesis of P. G. Wodehouse and H. P. Lovecraft, Scream for Jeeves.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a pity to see you repeating the canard about a sharp discontinuity in W's thought: recent scholars see his work as being unified by methodological quietism. See, for instance, the essays that appear in The New Wodehouse.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Tractatus wasn't L's own choice for the book. He called it the Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung (logical philosophical handbook), but the translator, C. K. Ogden, suggested the present title in an echo of Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. L concurred with the idea.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And "Logical-Philosophical Handbook" isn't double-barrelled at all!!!

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeeves is certainly a bit of a philosopher. Bertie has him wait in the car while he pays a call and finds him reading a book when he returns. He asks Jeeves what he's reading. "Spinoza's Ethics, sir."

He also pronounces Nietzsche "fundamentally unsound." But I'm afraid I can't recall where he says these things.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Kieran Setiya said...

From "Jeeves and the Greasy Bird":

"Oh, Jeeves," I said, "I hope I'm not interrupting you when were curled up with your Spinoza's Ethics or whatever it is, but I wonder if you could spare me a moment of your valuable time?"

The story was originally published in Plum Pie, which is now sadly out of print. In Jeeves in the Offing it turns out that the book was a gift from Bertie himself.

On the Nietzsche question, see "Jeeves Takes Charge", which appears in Carry On, Jeeves.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Kieran Setiya said...

I was delighted to learn, in response to this post, that L.W. was an admiring reader of Wodehouse - in particular, of the short story, "Honeysuckle Cottage". A nice discussion can be found here.

8:13 PM  

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