R: She-Hulk v. 4 #3 ("#100") (February 2006), art by Greg Horn
(Click picture to hundred-size)
...It is the only book of mine which I tried to produce without sitting down at a typewriter and getting a crick in the back.Yes, it's a mark of genius that Wodehouse can have you laughing even before you get out of the Preface.
Not that I ever thought of dictating it to a stenographer. How anybody can compose a story by word of mouth, face to face with a bored-looking secretary with a notebook is more than I can imagine. Yet many authors think nothing of saying 'Ready, Miss Spelvin? Take dictation. Quote No comma Lord jasper Murgatroyd comma close quote said no better make it hissed Evangeline comma quote I would not marry you if you were the last man on earth close quote period Quote Well comma, I'm not the last man on earth comma so the point does not arise comma close quote replied Lord Jasper command twirling his moustache cynically period And so the long day wore on.'
If I started to do that sort of thing I should be feeling all the time that the girl was saying to herself as she took it down, 'Well comma this beats me period How comma with homes for the feeble-minded touting for customers on every side comma has a fathead like this Wodehouse succeeded in remaining at larger all these years mark of interrogation.'
Analysing this, if analysing is the word I want, I came to the conclusion that this changed outlook was due to the fact that she was so dashed dynamic. Unquestionably an eyeful, Pauline Stoker had the grave defect of being one of those girls who want you to come and swim a mile before breakfast and rout you out when you are trying to snatch a wink of sleep after lunch for a merry five sets of tennis. And now that the scales had fallen from my eyes, I could see that what I required for the role of Mrs Bertram Wooster was something rather more on the lines of Janet Gaynor.Pauline Stoker, is, of course, a chummy ex-fianceé of Bertie's, which means plenty of opportunity for Chuffy, her new boyfriend, to be greedily jealous of Bertie. The wedding has got to take place, too...not merely for true love, but in order to seal the deal where Chuffy will unload his crumbling ruin of a Devon mansion on Pauline's millionaire dad in order to make it into a health sanatorium for Roderick Glossop. Or, as Bertie puts it (wonderfully):
'And unless old Stoker buys the Hall, Chuffy will continue to be Kid Lazarus, the man without a bean. One spots the drama of the situation. And yet, why, Jeeves? Why all this fuss about money? After all, plenty of bust blokes have married oofy girls before now.'This wedding thing: Sounds simple enough, right? Not when Bertie finds this in his cottage, in one of the truly finest and most melodic single sentences in the entire English language:
Reading from left to right, the contents of the bed consisted of Pauline Stoker in my heliotrope pyjamas with the old gold stripe.Definition time: Heliotrope: a vivid shade of purple. Sure, Wodehouse could have gone for "purple" or "mauve" or "violet' here, but isn't heliotrope the most magnificent word you could find in a book? It scans wonderfully when you read that sentence, doesn't it?: