... it was in Hollywood that there was the first major manifestation of Wodehouse’s besetting fault as a human being.
How does one define this? Tactlessness on a monumental scale? Innocent tactlessness? A breezy unconsciousness of the way the world works, or the way his words and actions would appear to that world? However you define the quality, you can see that it is the dark side of the coin which made him such a successful writer – that is, his capacity to see the world entirely on his own infantile terms, without realizing how those terms would impact on grown-ups. To this extent, he seems no more grown-up than Just William (in those Richmal Crompton stories which owe so much of their comedy to following Wodehousian formulas). The Hollywood blunder, endearing and comic as it was, was a foreshadowing of the major blunder which would overshadow the second half of Wodehouse’s life. While in Hollywood, he gave an interview to a journalist from the Los Angeles Times, in which he cheerfully admitted, “I have been paid $104,000 for loafing”. While on the MGM payroll, he had written “a novel and nine short stories . . . brushing up my golf, getting an attractive suntan and perfecting my Australian crawl”.
Friday, December 30, 2011
... P. G. Wodehouse, the writing-machine with a tragic twist | TLS.