Carry On, Jeeves (A Jeeves and Bertie Novel)
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81 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2000
"Carry On, Jeeeves," a collection of ten short stories first published in 1925 involving the adventures of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, provides an excellent introduction to the world of P.G. Wodehouse. The collection contains the first Jeeves' story, in which the valet comes to work for Bertie replacing a valet named Meadowes, evidentally a hypocrite who converted to evangelism (as we find out in the story "The Aunt and the Sluggard".) At any rate, Meadowes was sacked by Bertie when the valet was caught stealing his silk socks. The stories take place in New York, briefly in Paris, and, of course, in London, although Wodehouse, as usual, does not delineate any part of New York except to place Bertie in a flat on 57nd Street and mention Washington Square as a place of Bohemianism, and Long Island as rural countryside. The stories contain the usual Wodehousian social parasites living off wealthy aunts, and develops such characters as Aunts Agatha and Dahlia, Bingo Little, Sir Roderick Glossop (the loony doctor) and several of Jeeves' numerous relatives, including a relatively incompetent constable and female model and partime "actress." The charm of the Jeeves-Wooster stories, I have always thought, comes from Bertie as speaker, and Bertie narrates the action in nine of the ten stories. Wodehouse is at his best in characterizing Bertie: Wooster's prose tends to be rich in unusual similes, metaphors and 1920's slang; there is a cadence to Bertie's narration, as well as a refreshingly humorous charm to his perception of the world. Bertie has been termed "a useless blot on the fabric of society" by his former valet, and a "wooden-headed blighter" by others. Bertie, himself, admits to having "half the amount of brain a normal bloke ought to possess." Even the discrete Jeeves considers Bertie "mentally negliable," although, of course, this is an unspoken thought. (In the final story in this excellent collection, Wodehouse uses Jeeves as narrator, an unusual occurence in Wodehouse, but one which enriches the character of Jeeves and makes him more meaningful in later works. Wodhouse seemed to have exerted more care in the Jeeves' stories throughout his writing career. Wodehouse admits that he always took particular care to be especially humorous and witty in these stories because he thought that the reader demanded more with Jeeves and Wooster. "Carry On, Jeeves" is a highly recommended introduction into the world of Wodehouse; a first-time reader may, like most of us, become quickly addicted to Wodehouse and further explore the richly humorous world of this marvelous author. Longtime admirers will, of course, return frequently to these miniature gems.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon September 17, 2001
These ten short Jeeves and Wooster tales originally appeared in 1925 and three-quarters of a century later provide an excellent entry point to Wodehouse's comic series. The Jeeves and Wooster stories generally follow the same template, the young, wealthy airhead Wooster or one of his upper-crust pals gets in some sticky social situation, and it is up to his genius butler Jeeves to devise an ingenious solution to the quandary. Often the stories involve some manner of deception, misunderstanding, or often, mistaken identity-and sometimes, Jeeves' scheme backfires, resulting in even greater hilarity (although as with every comic tale, all is set right by the end). The stories can fairly be compared to contemporary TV sitcoms, as they to reply on recurring (often over the top) characters, a rarefied setting, a single type of humor, and recurring situations. Simply put, if you like one Wooster story (and don't get sick of them), you're going to like them all. Much of this can be explained by Wodehouse's mastery of the language and constant deft turns of phrase, period slang, and comic timing. Those who deride the shallow subject matter and milieu of the Jeeves and Wooster series need to recall the context in which these stories appeared. Only a few years removed from the horrors of World War I-an event that is never alluded to in the series, despite the loss of an entire generation of British young men-the stories can be viewed as a bandage of sorts, an attempt to transport the reader to a world far removed from the traumatic recovery from the Great War. Not to mention Wodehouse's clear depiction of the upper classes as wastrels and idiots of the highest order when compared to the street savvy of the servants (as exemplified by Jeeves). Of course, one doesn't read Wodehouse for social commentary or as a salve these days, but for his dry wit and keen command of the written word.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This volume of ten stories originally hails from 1925. I read them in the 1999- 2000 Penguin paperback edition. While many readers like the covers by Ionicus on earlier Penguin paperbacks, these recent editions with covers by David Hitch are my favorites. They are very well done, reasonably priced and just the right size, which is to say, perfect for the novice or seasoned Wodehouse reader. The stories are also among the absolute tops in the Wooster/ Jeeves canon, and give the back stories that Bertie meditatively refers to in so many of the later books.

As Richard Usborne notes in his invaluable guide, Plum Sauce, five of these stories appeared earlier in My Man Jeeves (1919). Two of the stories there told by Reggie Pepper are here transformed into Bertie's ruminations. Carry On Jeeves was the next collection following the ten stories in The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), and Wodehouse was on a roll. Here's Bertie's first engagement to Florence Craye, and his first encounter with her younger brother, Edwin, the Boy Scout, who rapidly renders unsafe house and home. Enter Biffy and Bingo Little, later fixtures in the Wooster ouvre. Here also Bertie pens his oft- mentioned "piece" for his "good aunt" Dahlia Travers, and her struggling paper, Milady's Boudoir. The last story in this collection is somewhat questionably narrated by Jeeves, but Wodehouse fortunately reverted to telling tales in first person Bertie in the later shorts. Some of these tales also found their way into the Jeeves and Wooster TV shows with even more riotous results. All in all, a capital collection.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2006
I had never got around to reading any P.G. Wodehouse until I read this volume, and now I regret the delay.

My first exposure to Wodehouse, at least the first I can remember, was the great Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (better known from "Black Adder" and "House") TV series "Jeeves and Wooster". That series, plus a few artsy articles on Wodehouse (for example this one by Christopher Hitchens [...] ), turned my Wodehouse radar on.

Even though the world of butlers and aristocratic drones in the 1920s may as well be life of the Siberian Steppes to us web connected suburbanites, the human comedy never really changes. It was the Jeeves and Wooster stories, not "Seinfeld", that was the original "show about nothing."

Every story starts from a minor mishap that turns into major mayhem, requiring the sagacious Jeeves to slide in and rescue his well meaning but social accident prone patron from the self induced quagmire.

This is humour that is sympathetic to all the parties involved. As such it is a pleasant change from the rude brood of "cruder than thou" comedies that has dominated mainstream TV / movie comedy from both England and America for most of the last dozen years. My guess is that generation of young media consumers has grown up that know no humour other than the stick it someone else variety. Not to say there is anything wrong with that, it's just the monotony of it all that I am tired of.

Bring back Wodehouse!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2001
I am not a native English speaker, so my vocabulary consists of what I learned in school (a long time ago), what I hear on movies/TV, and what I read. Books and films most often these days come from America, of course, so that is the version of English that I speak (albeit with an accent). Reading P.G. Wodehouse, this or any other book, shows that the English language is not confined to the transatlantic variant; it can be so much richer! Add to that the wonderful, sarcastic sense of humour the man had and you end up with a truly sensational reading experience. Of course, you do need to know a bit of the society of which he writes. It makes me wonder what youths in e.g. the U.S. today would think if they read this book.
I am still looking forward to many hours of delightful reading, as I have only read a few books yet. My own introduction to Bertie, Jeeves, and the others in fact came from the excellent British TV series starring Hugh Laurie (as Bertie) and Stephen Fry (as Jeeves). If you get the chance to see it, do so.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
It's almost impossible to write funny about humor, and anyone who writes seriously about it is doomed to come off as a fuddy duddy. E.B. White, a funny writer himself, once said that analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog, in that the thing tends to die in the process and the results will be interesting only to the purely scientific mind. -Andrew Ferguson, Divine Comedy : P.G. Wodehouse's perfect pitch
Two things the critics generally agree on are that : (1) P. G. Wodehouse is one of the funniest writers in the English language; and, (2) it's almost impossible to explain why. Among the various authorities cited for the difficulty in analyzing humor are Evelyn Waugh and Sigmund Freud, themselves authors of hilarious fictions. Suffice it to say, and I mean this in the very best sense, the enjoyments of the Jeeves and Wooster stories are much the same as those of the great TV sitcoms. Wodehouse created these two great comic characters, surrounded them in each story with oddballs, plunked them all down in trying situations, and then had the inimitable Jeeves extract Bertie and his upper-class nitwit friends from their difficulties through various stratagems and diversions. Though Andrew Ferguson and others deny that there is any deeper meaning or political content to the stories, it is at least notable that the finest young gentlemen in all of England are hopelessly overmatched by life unless Jeeves steps in to save them. The resulting stories have a certain sameness to them--of course, just try watching ten episodes of Cheers in a row and see if it's still fresh and amusing in hour five--but read in moderation they are immensely enjoyable and their very familiarity becomes quite comforting.
GRADE : A+
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2008
Wodehouse is perhaps the best antidote I know for depression. His novels are literally unreal, for Bertie inhabits a world of leisure, servants, and privilege, an Edenic world where even the threat of pain, suffering, and mortality have no place, and Jeeves is always there as a deus ex machina. But ultimately we return to Wodehouse (again and again!) because of the language--quite simply, the man cannot write a bad sentence.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2002
Previous: The Inimitable Jeeves
While some of the stories in this collection pre-date The Inimitable Jeeves, it was published as a collection two years later, and so I'm calling it the second book in the series. The stories in this set are all stand-alone and unrelated. While many of them are charming, there is one that stands out far and away more noticeably than the others - the ingenious Bertie Changes His Mind. I will not give away the wonderful twist of this story, except to say that Wodehouse pulls it off with flying colors, and it is surprisingly hilarious. If the first couple paragraphs throw you a little, keep reading - you'll catch on, and you will be utterly charmed. Another notable story in this collection is The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy, in which Bertie looks like a genius in comparison.
Next: Very Good, Jeeves
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2004
P.G. Wodehouse's CARRY ON, JEEVES, is a masterpiece of hilarity! Jeeves is Bertram (Bertie) Wooster's manservant in jolly old England. Jeeves is always there to get poor Bertie out of his farcical jams. This book was first published in 1925, but the comedy plays out just as well today. I especially love the variety of turns of phrases that pop up on every page. (Imagine being described by Bertie as: "As vague and woollen-headed a blighter as ever bit a sandwich."!) Each of the ten short chapters is another adventure, with the last adventure being told from Jeeve's own point of view. I highly recommend this book, and I can't wait to read the others in the series!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Martin Jarvis' reading of Carry On, Jeeves runs circles around Jonathan Cecil's reading of anything (for more on Cecil, see Psmith: Journalist). He simply embodies the characters of Bertie Wooster, Jeeves, Biffy, Corky, and all the cast (albeit with the same typical attempt at an American accent).
Carry On, Jeeves contains eight of the ten stories available in the print version (the remaining two stories appear on My Man Jeeves), so completists will want that, but for pure enjoyment, you can't go wrong with this. Even the titles Wodehouse writes are funny, my favorite being "The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy." They simply roll off the tongue.
The stories here include "Jeeves Takes Charge" (chronologically the first as it tells the story of Jeeves' entry into Bertie's life). The others, namely "The Artistic Career of Corky," "Clustering Round Young Bingo," "Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest" (about a young cousin of Bertie's who goes wild under his wing), and "Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg" are all classics of the Wodehousian genre and show Jeeves at his problem-solving best.
This would easily appeal to the casual Wodehouse fan, and is perfect for long road trips or any other situation where a laugh is needed. Wodehouse exceeds all others in humor and, one assumes, will remain that way for centuries to come.
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