Right Ho, Jeeves
|Author||P. G. Wodehouse|
|5 October 1934|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Preceded by||Thank You, Jeeves|
|Followed by||The Code of the Woosters|
Right Ho, Jeeves is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse, the second full-length novel featuring the popular characters Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, after Thank You, Jeeves. It also features a host of other recurring Wodehouse characters (some of whom it introduces), and is mostly set at Brinkley Court, the home of Bertie's Aunt Dahlia. It was first published in the United Kingdom on 5 October 1934 by Herbert Jenkins, London, and in the United States on 15 October 1934 by Little, Brown and Company, Boston, under the title Brinkley Manor. Before being published as a book, it had been sold to the Saturday Evening Post, in which it appeared in serial form from 23 December 1933 to 27 January 1934, and in England in the Grand Magazine from April to September 1934. Wodehouse had already started planning this sequel while working on Thank You, Jeeves.
Bertie returns to London from several weeks in Cannes spent in the company of his Aunt Dahlia Travers and her daughter Angela. In Bertie's absence, Jeeves has been advising Bertie's old school friend, Gussie Fink-Nottle, who is in love with a goofy, sentimental, whimsical, childish girl named Madeline Bassett. Gussie, a shy teetotaler with a passion for newts and a face like a fish, is too timid to speak to her. Bertie is annoyed that his friends consider Jeeves more intelligent than Bertie, and he takes Gussie's case in hand, ordering Jeeves not to offer any more advice.
Madeline, a friend of Bertie's cousin Angela, is staying at Brinkley Court (country seat of Aunt Dahlia and Uncle Tom). Aunt Dahlia demands that Bertie come to Brinkley Court to make a speech and present the school prizes to students at the local grammar school, which he considers a fearsome task. Bertie sends Gussie to Brinkley Court in his place, so that Gussie will have the chance to woo Madeline there, but also so that Gussie will be forced to take on the unpleasant job of distributing the school prizes.
When Angela breaks her engagement to the athletic but heavy Tuppy Glossop, Bertie feels obliged to go down to Brinkley Court to comfort Aunt Dahlia. In addition to her worry about Angela's broken engagement, Aunt Dahlia is anxious because she has lost 500 pounds gambling at Cannes, and now needs to ask her miserly husband Tom to replace the money in order to keep financing her magazine, Milady's Boudoir. Bertie advises her to arouse Uncle Tom's concern for her by pretending to have lost her appetite through worry. He offers similar advice to Tuppy, to win back Angela. He also offers the same advice to Gussie, to show his love for Madeline. All take his advice, and the resulting return of plates of untasted food upsets Aunt Dahlia's temperamental prized chef Anatole, who gives notice to quit. Not unreasonably, Aunt Dahlia blames Bertie for this disaster.
When Bertie attempts to probe Madeline's feelings about Gussie, she misinterprets his questioning as a marriage proposal on his own behalf. To his relief, she tells Bertie she cannot marry him, as she has fallen in love with Gussie. Bertie relays the good news to Gussie, but even with this encouragement, Gussie remains too timid to propose, and Bertie decides to embolden him by lacing his orange juice with liquor.
Gussie ends up imbibing more liquor than Bertie had intended. Under its influence, Gussie successfully proposes to Madeline. He then delivers a hilarious, abusive, drunken speech to the grammar school while presenting the school prizes. Madeline, disgusted, breaks the engagement and resolves to marry Bertie instead. The prospect of spending his life with the drippy Madeline terrifies Bertie, but his personal code of chivalrous behavior will not allow him to insult her by withdrawing his "proposal" and turning her down. Meanwhile, Gussie, still drunk, retaliates against Madeline by proposing to Angela, who accepts him in order to score off Tuppy. Tuppy's jealousy is aroused and he chases Gussie all around the mansion, vowing to beat him within an inch of his life.
In the face of this chaos, Bertie admits his inability to cope, and appeals to Jeeves for advice. Jeeves arranges for Bertie to be absent for a few hours, and during that time swiftly and ingeniously solves all the problems, assuring that Angela and Tuppy are reconciled, that Gussie and Madeline become engaged again, that Anatole withdraws his resignation, and that Uncle Tom writes Aunt Dahlia a check for 500 pounds. Bertie learns his lesson and resolves to let Jeeves have his way in the future.
- Stephen Fry, in an article titled "What ho! My hero, PG Wodehouse", remarks on the popularity of the work, especially the prize-giving episode:
The masterly episode where Gussie Fink-Nottle presents the prizes at Market Snodsbury grammar school is frequently included in collections of great comic literature and has often been described as the single funniest piece of sustained writing in the language. I would urge you, however, to head straight for a library or bookshop and get hold of the complete novel Right Ho, Jeeves, where you will encounter it fully in context and find that it leaps even more magnificently to life.
- John Le Carré lists the work among his all-time favourite novels.
- In a 2009 internet poll, Right Ho, Jeeves was voted number 1 in the "best comic book by English writer" category.
- In 2012, Christian Science Monitor editors Peder Zane and Elizabeth Drake listed Right Ho, Jeeves as number ten in a list of the ten best comic works in all of literature.
- McIlvaine, E., Sherby, L.S. and Heineman, J.H. (1990) P.G. Wodehouse: A comprehensive bibliography and checklist. New York: James H. Heineman, pp. 66–68. ISBN 087008125X
- Brian Taves; Richard (FRW) Briers (2006), P.G. Wodehouse and Hollywood: screenwriting, satires, and adaptations, McFarland, p. 191, ISBN 978-0-7864-2288-3
- David A. Jasen (2002), P.G. Wodehouse: a portrait of a master, Music Sales Group, p. 132, ISBN 978-0-8256-7275-0
- Stephen Fry, What ho! My hero, PG Wodehouse, The Independent, Tuesday, 18 January 2000. A longer version of this article appears as the introduction to "What Ho! The Best of PG Wodehouse".
- Le Carré, John. "Personal Best: Right Ho, Jeeves". Salon.com. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
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