Psmith in the City - The Original Classic Edition
by Wodehouse P
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Psmith in the City marks something of a transition piece for Wodehouse. Here, two of his principle School characters are taken away from the school environment and put into the real world. Psmith is elevated to the principle character quite clearly - a trend which continues in Psmith, journalist, and of course is entirely dominant in the concluding Leave it to Psmith, where Mike is relegated to the background.
There is also an element of the autobiographical in this work, for Wodehouse spent his post school days in much the same position as Mike finds himself - working in a city job for which he had little aptitude and did not like. Dulwich College, Wodehouses school, also makes a cameo appearance.
The character of Psmith (based on a real person, unusually for Wodehouse) lends himself well to Wodehouses skill at dialogue. Psmiths unique character traits are generally revealed in his conversation, and Wodehouse makes the most of this - certainly more than he was able to in the earlier school settings for Mike and Psmith. The dialogue does not, perhaps, soar to the heights it achieves in Leave it to Psmith, but this is a distinctly earlier piece of writing. Indeed, the reader is occasionally brought up with a jolt to just how early in the twentieth century this is, with some of the settings and phrasings.
Overall this is a very enjoyable book, and interesting because of the transition role it plays in shifting from the more serious School series to the more frivolous work for which Wodehouse is more remembered. The autobiographical aspect is also of interest, and though the historical reminders may shock a little, they are a reminder of how long Wodehouse was writing.
- Emereo Publishing, October 2012
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