12 OCTOBER 1934, Page 32

Jeeves at Brinkley Court Right Ho, Jeeves. By P. G.

Wadehcu3e. (Herbert Jenkins. 75. evd.) THE reappearance a few months ago of Jeeves in a full- length novel was an event of capital importance to close students of Mr. P. G. Wodehouse's work. Not only was it the first time that the gentleman's gentleman had taken the burden of the young master's imbecilities on his shoulders, during the course of a whole book, but it was also in the nature of a happy restoration. Many loyalists must have speculated gloomily about the fate of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster during the interregnum of Mr. Mulliner and the Blandings Castle interludes. Mr. Wodehouse has now made the fullest possible amends to loyal Woosterians by devoting another complete novel to the old firm.

It would be easy to accuse Mr. Wodehouse of lack of invention as far as the actions of his characters are concerned. In this respect there is nothing new in his latest chronicle. Brinkley Court—one of the stately mental homes in his favourite Worcestershire—has already appeared in a short story—" The Love that Purifies." And only one r.ew character, that of Gussie Fink-Nottle, the prince of newt- fanciers, has been added to the number of its inmates. The others are old friends. Aunt Dahlia, Bertie's favourite aunt, will be remembered for her boisterous part in" Clustering round Young Bingo" and two other short stories. Angela and Tuppy Glossop turn up again freshly engaged, but at loggerheads in the matter of Angela's adventures with a shark at Cannes. Anatole, the chef, whom Aunt Dahlia snaffled from Mrs. Bingo Little many years ago, is still administering to the dyspeptic needs of Uncle Thomas. And best of all, Jeeves and the young master are once again divided by one of those unfortunate little questions of taste, viz, a white mess-jacket, which Bertie had sported on the Riviera during Jeeves' annual vacation. (Curious readers will recollect sundry cummerbunds, yellow velvet evening suits, old Etonian spats and pink ties, which in the past caused similar coolnesses ".) But the absence of novelty in the actions of these immortal lunatics is, one feels, part of a, deliberate design. What they do is not particularly important, nor even particularly insane, though an exception must be made for the Fink- Nottle's outrageou% conduct at the speech-day celebrations at the Market Snodsbury Grammar School. As Wooster remarks, "Great lovers throughout the ages inve fixed up the preliminary formalities at Brinkley," and the plot of this new chapter in its history does nothing more than show that they are still at it, Bertie intervening at suitably inappro- priate moments to fix and unfix. It is the quality_ of the variation Mr. Wodehouse plays on the original theme that matters, the peculiar harmony of words and phrases he employs to describe familiar situations. Its effect on the reader is cumulative rather than sudden, though Mr. Wodehouse still shows himself to be a master of the unex- pected and contrary epithet and simile, as when he speaks of "the vital oolong " or of Bertie, after the day's work "sipping the mixture with carefree enjoyment rather like Caesar having one in his tent the day he overcame the Nervii."

Or again, there is the characteristic trick of hyperbole, admirably used in his description of the newt-king's demeanour : "Many an experienced undertaker would have been deceived by his appearance and started embalming on sight." Or Bertie's attempts to eir.ulate Jeeves in his literary references—a fruitful source of lrlatity--and gnomic observations, e.g., "spilt milk blows nuoody any good." One other point worth noting is that Mr. Wodehouse has never written anything which could not be safely introduced into "the cabinet of the severest matron "—Aunt Agatha, for example. It is a remarkable feat, considering that sex, and not love, is the substance of all his tales. Doubtless, the psychologists could say more than enough in explanation, just as they would surely have some pretty sinister things to say about the infantilism of the Berties, Bingos and Tuppies, and about Jeeves' role as the mother-surrogate. For those who have fallen under the Woosterian spell, it is enough that Mr. Wodehouse continues to provide the most exquisitely futile pleasure without any arriere pens& that