Monday, January 8, 2018

The Mind Boggles

So, I'm still working my way through the Milne biography, and came across an assertion* that made me do a double take.

Writing of the time when Milne and Wodehouse were still on friendly terms (i.e., before Milne slandered Wodehouse with accusations of treason), Thwaite relates how the two men sponsored a mutual acquaintance to membership in the Garrick Club. But unlike Milne, who enjoyed men's clubs, Wodehouse hated clubs, she says, and soon quit this one.

The creator of the Drones Club, probably one of the two most famous Clubs in fiction,**  didn't like clubs? I'd never have guessed it. It's a good reminder that we tend to think authors are like their characters. Even when we know this is not true as a general rule, we tend to project a character's opinions onto the author himself or herself. That Wodehouse's narrative voice is so guileless tends to make us forget that PGW is not Bertie any more than he is Jeeves, though as author his point of view is nearer the latter: the behind the scenes manipulator who pulls together all the strings to bring the story to a satisfactory ending.

--John R.

*p. 310

**the other I'd say being the Diogenes Club of the Mycroft Holmes stories


Hlaford said...

Wodehouse's dislike for clubs is well documented. This is from a 1956 letter to R. Usborne:

I was at one time a member of Garrick, Beefsteak, Constitutional, and over here Coffee House. I now belong only to Coffee House and the Lotos of New York. At a very early stage I was a member of a ghastly little bohemian club called the Yorick, and later, of course, the Dramatists Club. But I hated them all and almost never went into them. I loathe clubs. The trouble is, it's so difficult to resign. I have not been inside the Coffee House for three years, though I sometimes lunch at the Lotos when in New York. I think I hated the Garrick more than any of them. All those hearty barristers! I did resign from the Garrick.
The Drones is pure invention. I suppose Buck's would be the nearest thing to it. I never belonged to Buck's but sometimes lunched there with Guy Bolton.

ATMachine said...

I'd argue that third place among best-known fictional clubs should go to Blades, the club frequented by James Bond (as a guest) and M (as a member) in Ian Fleming's novels.