Some of the stories in the man with two left feet (1917) appear to have been influenced. Henry, and other books written about this time contain Americanisms (e.g. "highball" for "whisky and soda which an Englishman would not normally use in propria persona. Nevertheless, almost all the books of this period-psmith, journalist; the little nugget; the indiscretions of archie; piccadilly jim and various others-depend for their effect on the contrast between English and American shakespeare manners. English characters appear in an American setting, or vice versa: there is a certain number of purely English stories, but hardly any purely American ones. The third period might fitly be called the country-house period. By the early nineteen-twenties Wodehouse must have been making a very large income, and the social status of his characters moved upwards accordingly, though the ukridge stories form a partial exception. The typical setting is now a country mansion, a luxurious bachelor flat or an expensive golf club.
Ukridge appeared in 1924. When one looks through the list of Wodehouse's books from 1902 onwards, one can observe three fairly well-marked periods. The first is the school-story period. It includes such books as the gold bat, dubai the pothunters, etc and has its high-spot in mike (1909). Psmith in the city, published in the following year, belongs in this category, though it is not directly concerned with school life. The next is the American period. Wodehouse seems to have lived in the United States from about 1913 to 1920, and for a while showed signs of becoming americanised in idiom and outlook.
One is to the effect that Wodehouse "was still living in the period about which he wrote and the other that the nazi propaganda ministry made use of him because he "made fun of the English." The second statement is based on a misconception. But Flannery's other comment is quite true and contains in it part of the clue to wodehouse's behaviour. A thing that people often forget about. Wodehouse's novels is how long ago the better-known of them were written. We think of him as in some sense typifying the silliness of the nineteen-twenties and nineteen-thirties, but in fact the scenes and characters by which he is best remembered had all made their appearance before 1925. Psmith first appeared in 1909, having been foreshadowed by other characters in early school stories. Blandings Castle, with Baxter and the earl of Emsworth both in residence, was introduced in 1915. The jeeves-wooster cycle began in 1919, both jeeves and wooster having made brief appearances earlier.
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He knew that Wodehouse made fun of the English in all his stories and that he seldom wrote in any other way, that he was still living in the period about which he wrote and had no conception of nazism and all it meant. Wodehouse was his own Bertie wooster." The striking of an actual bargain between Wodehouse and Plack seems to be smart merely Flannery's own interpretation. The arrangement may have been of a much less definite kind, and to judge from the broadcasts themselves, wodehouse's main idea in making them was to keep in touch with his public and the comedian's ruling passion to get a laugh. Obviously they are not the utterances of a quisling of the type of Ezra pound or John Amery, nor, probably, of a person capable of understanding the nature of quislingism. Flannery seems to have warned Wodehouse that it would be unwise to broadcast, but not very forcibly. He adds that Wodehouse (though in one broadcast he refers to himself as an Englishman) seemed to regard himself as an American citizen. He had contemplated naturalisation, but had never filled in the necessary papers.
He even used, to Flannery, the phrase, "We're not at war with Germany." I have before refilling me a bibliography. It names round about fifty books, but is certainly incomplete. It is as well to be honest, and i ought to start by admitting that there are many books by wodehouse perhaps a quarter or a third of the total which I have not read. It is not, indeed, easy to read the whole output of a popular writer who is normally published in cheap editions. But I have followed his work fairly closely since 1911, when I was eight years old, and am well acquainted with its peculiar mental atmosphere an atmosphere which has not, of course, remained completely unchanged, but shows little alteration since about 1925. In the passage from Flannery's book which I"d above there are two remarks which would immediately strike any attentive reader of Wodehouse.
As late as December 1944 there were demands in Parliament that Wodehouse should be put on trial as a traitor. There is an old saying that if you throw enough mud some of it will stick, and the mud has stuck to wodehouse in a rather peculiar way. An impression has been left behind that Wodehouse's talks (not that anyone remembers what he said in them) showed him up not merely as a traitor but as an ideological sympathiser with Fascism. Even at the time several letters to the press claimed that "Fascist tendencies" could be detected in his books, and the charge has been repeated since. I shall try to analyse the mental atmosphere of those books in a moment, but it is important to realise that the events of 1941 do not convict Wodehouse of anything worse than stupidity. The really interesting question is how and why he could be so stupid.
When Flannery met Wodehouse (released, but still under guard) at the Adlon Hotel in June 1941, he saw at once that he was dealing with a political innocent, and when preparing him for their broadcast interview he had to warn him against making some exceedingly. As it was, the phrase "whether England wins or not" did get through. Soon after the interview Wodehouse told him that he was also going to broadcast on the nazi radio, apparently not realising that this action had any special significance. Flannery comments assignment to berlin by harry. Flannery.: "By this time the wodehouse plot was evident. It was one of the best nazi publicity stunts of the war, the first with a human angle.Plack (Goebbels's assistant) had gone to the camp near Gleiwitz to see wodehouse, found that the author was completely without political sense, and had an idea. He suggested to wodehouse that in return for being released from the prison camp he write a series of broadcasts about his experiences; there would be no censorship and he would put them on the air himself. In making that proposal Plack showed that he knew his man.
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"Cassandra's" Postscript caused a certain amount of protest, but on the whole it seems to have intensified popular feeling hazlitt against Wodehouse. One result of it was that numerous lending libraries withdrew Wodehouse's books from circulation. Here is a typical news item: "Within twenty-four hours of listening to the broadcast of Cassandra, the daily mirror columnist, portadown (North Ireland) Urban District council banned. Wodehouse's books from their public library. Edward McCann said that Cassandra's broadcast had clinched the matter. Wodehouse was funny no longer." (daily mirror.) In addition the. Banned Wodehouse's lyrics from the air plan and was still doing so a couple of years later.
Wodehouse was also censured for using (in the interview with Flannery) the phrase "whether. Britain wins the war or not and he did not make things better by describing in another broadcast the filthy habits of some belgian prisoners among whom he was interned. The germans recorded this broadcast and repeated it a number of times. They seem to have supervised his talks very lightly, and they allowed him not only to be funny about the discomforts of internment but to remark that "the internees at Trost camp all fervently believe that Britain will eventually win." The general upshot of the. These broadcasts caused an immediate uproar in England. There were questions in Parliament, angry editorial comments in the press, and a stream of letters from fellow-authors, nearly all of them disapproving, though one or two suggested that it would be better to suspend judgment, and several pleaded that Wodehouse probably did not realise. On 15th July, the home service of the. Carried an extremely violent Postscript by "Cassandra" of the daily mirror, accusing Wodehouse of "selling his country." This postscript links made free use of such expressions as "Quisling" and "worshipping the Fhrer". The main charge was that Wodehouse had agreed to do german propaganda as a way of buying himself out of the internment camp.
long time. When I join my wife i had better take along a letter of introduction to be on the safe side." "In the days before the war I had always been modestly proud of being. Englishman, but now that I have been some months resident in this bin or repository of Englishmen i am not so sure. The only concession I want from Germany is that she gives me a loaf of bread, tells the gentlemen with muskets at the main gate to look the other way, and leaves the rest. In return i am prepared to hand over India, an autographed set of my books, and to reveal the secret process of cooking sliced potatoes on a radiator. This offer holds good till Wednesday week.". The first extract"d above caused great offence.
Broadcasting System, which still had its correspondents in Berlin. Wodehouse also published in the saturday evening post an article which he had written while still in the internment camp. The article and the broadcasts dealt mainly with Wodehouse's experiences in internment, but they did include a very few comments on the war. The following are fair samples: "I never mattress was interested in politics. I'm quite unable to work up any kind of belligerent feeling. Just as I'm about to feel belligerent about some country i meet a decent sort of chap. We go out together and lose any fighting thoughts or feelings." "A short time ago they had a look at me on parade and got the right idea; at least they sent us to the local lunatic asylum. And I have been there forty-two weeks.
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When the germans made their rapid advance through Belgium in the early summer of 1940, they captured, among other things,. Wodehouse, who had been living throughout the early part of the war in his villa. Le touquet, and seems not to have realised until the last moment that he was in any danger. As he was led away into captivity, he is said to have remarked, "Perhaps after this I shall write a serious book." he was placed for the time being under house arrest, and from his subsequent statements it appears that he was treated. Over a year later, essay on 25th June 1941, the news came that Wodehouse had been released from internment and was living at the Adlon Hotel. On the following day the public was astonished to learn that he had agreed to do some broadcasts of a "non-political" nature over the. The full texts of these broadcasts are not easy to obtain at this date, but Wodehouse seems to have done five of them between 26th. June and 2nd July, when the germans took him off the air again. The first broadcast, on 26th June, was not made on the nazi radio but took the form of an interview with Harry Flannery, the representative of the columbia.