Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hugh Laurie on Wodehouse

I was, in truth, a horrible child. Not much given to things of a bookey nature, I spent a large part of my youth smoking Number Six and cheating in French vocabulary tests. I wore platform boots with a brass skull and crossbones over the ankle, my hair was disgraceful, and I somehow contrived to pull off the gruesome trick of being both fat and thin at the same time[. . .]

But this, you will be nauseated to learn, is a tale of redemption. In about my 13th year, it so happened that a copy of Galahad at Blandings by PG Wodehouse entered my squalid universe, and things quickly began to change. From the very first sentence of my very first Wodehouse story, life appeared to grow somehow larger. There had always been height, depth, width and time, and in these prosaic dimensions I had hitherto snarled, cursed, and not washed my hair. But now, suddenly, there was Wodehouse, and the discovery seemed to make me gentler every day. By the middle of the fifth chapter I was able to use a knife and fork, and I like to think that I have made reasonable strides since.


annesd said...

At the risk of sounding disgustingly trite, I am amazed at the transformative power of the written word. I had a similar experience when I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. The "tesseract" seemed to be the coolest way possible to get around this universe and beyond, not to mention existing in different dimensions, reading great quotations in almost every language imaginable, and being inspired by the beauty and vitality of the writing itself. My mother bought the book for me to rescue me from the Doldrums and Angst of a 12 year old girl and it certainly did the trick for me. Unfortunately, I think the movie that came out recently based on the book couldn't capture the beauty and the charm of the writing and didn't quite get the spirit of the book itself. But based on the Wodehouse YouTube clips I've seen, and browsing through some his writings at the library recently, I think Wodehouse would be tickled pink at the tv shows. I'm looking forward to settling in and enjoying them.

b said...

Hi, thanks for the comment!

I definitely agree with you-- sometimes what people have told us is trite is only so because it's hard to express a common experience that had such an impact. I read and read and read when I was a kid, and still do, and I still remember all those books-- especially when you are young, they are pure magic, and you can lose yourself in those worlds with an abandon it's hard to achieve as an adult. Wrinkle in Time was definitely one of them, and then when I was a little older, I remember reading An Acceptable Time over and over again. The one downside of when i was a nanny with such young kids was that I couldn't share those books with the kids, though we started reading Harry Potter & the girl absolutely took to them-- you could tell she was fascinated by its world, and it reminded me of reading it for the first time when I was in 6th grade. I'm really looking forward to sharing all these books with my son, even though now that I think of it they're a little girly? Little Princess, Secret Garden. . . I rock that shit hard.

And I've been watching the Laurie Wooster shows on YouTube these past few days and am really enjoying them! They are a very respectful interpretation of the books, which I think gets lost a lot of the time (Lord of the Rings, for example--)

I only recall a made-for-TV movie of a Wrinkle in Time, don't remember being very impressed with it, though that was awhile ago.

annesd said...

Hi again! There was another book by Madeleine L'Engle that I thought was equally enthralling--trying to remember the name of it--possibly A Swiftly Tilting Planet--a story that takes place when Meg is a grown-up. Have you read it by any chance? I'll see if I can find a little blurb on it or find out the correct name.

I too used to get thoroughly lost in the world of the book of I reading. Now that my daughter is a senior in h.s. and I am trying to get used to the idea of an empty nest, I am hoping to take the plunge back in on a more regular basis.

b said...

ooh A Swiftly Tilting Planet is my absolute favorite of those books, I was all about from fourth grade on. (Meg is an adult in that one though it focuses on Charles Wallace.)

Yeah it wasn't after the baby came that I realized how much I value the ability to sit down for even 10 minutes of quiet & just read. I'm sure you'll be able to find a lot of great things!


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