Narrator: Jonathan Cecil
Length: 7 hrs 3 mins
Publisher: Audible Studios
Audible release: 2016
If, like me, you’ve listened to ‘My man Jeeves’ fairly recently, ‘Carry on Jeeves’ will bring with it a definite sense of déjà vu. This is because, as I think I pointed out before, several of the stories are actually revised versions of those published in the earlier book.
Four of the stories contain little more than minor alterations — the sort of barely noticeable changes you only pick up on subliminally. ‘Fixing it for Freddie’, on the other hand was originally a Reggie Pepper story that Wodehouse rewrote with Bertie as the central character. This revision worked, producing a funnier, more enjoyable story than the original. Even so, ‘Fixing it for Freddie’ was probably my least favourite tale in the collection.
Back in ‘The inimitable Jeeves’ Wodehouse chose to join the short stories together under chronological chapter headings. Thankfully he didn’t follow this approach in ‘Carry on Jeeves’. The stories are presented as separate tales, connected only by character and setting. This allows the book to flow like a vaguely chronological series of reminiscences told by the fireside on a cold winter’s evening.
And this is almost certainly how they should be read. Wodehouse wasn’t aiming for verisimilitude. He wasn’t producing morality tales or railing at the inequities of life. At a time when Marcel Proust was producing over a million words on introspection and James Joyce was attempting to rewrite the classics in a modern setting, Wodehouse was simply having fun. I was about to add that he wasn’t in the business of trying to make us better people, but maybe, in his own way, he was. After all, if more people spent more time laughing over Jeeves and Wooster stories and less on many of their other activities, the world would be a lighter, happier place.