Saturday, November 06, 2004


People have found echoes of many writers in Gravity's Rainbow, but never of Wodehouse as far as I know; and when the idea of a Wodehouse influence on Pynchon first occurred to me, it seemed so unlikely that I decided not to mention it. But when one of the amorous adventures Slothrop relates to Tantivy is described as "the bizarre masquerade involving Gloria and her nubile mother, a quid wager on the Blackpool-Preston North End game, a naughty version of 'Silent Night,' and a providential fog" (22, Bantam edition), this sounds to me an awful lot like one of Bertie Wooster's references to (for instance) "the complex case of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, my Cousin Angela, my Aunt Dahlia, my Uncle Thomas, young Tuppy Glossop and the cook, Anatole" (Brinkley Manor, Chapter One). Slothrop himself resembles a Wodehouse protagonist to some extent: not Bertie Wooster, but one of Wodehouse's empty-headed young men who are always chasing after some girl or other and getting into "scrapes," like Freddie Widgeon. And last (so far) but not least, in the following piece of dialogue, the second line sounds quiteWodehousean to me:

"'We-e-e-ell, you see, somebody swiped all my clothes, and I was just on my way to complain to the management--'
"'But decided to put on a purple bedsheet and climb a tree instead,' nods the General." (233)


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