I love satire. So it comes as no surprise that H. H. Munro (Saki), Waugh and Wodehouse are at the forefront of my shelves. Each is different of course, Waugh is hilariously mean, Wodehouse gentle and Saki downright brutal. But all satirical geniuses of the first water. But in his virtually unknown masterpiece, Augustus Carp, Sir Henry Bashford out does them all. And in that company, that’s saying something….
The book was published anonymously in 1924 by physician Henry Bashford. It was a neglected masterpiece for many years until Anthony Burgess singlehandedly got it back into print in 1966. Since that time it has slowly built up a following and the cause has been taken up by some heavyweights like Michael Dirda.
No one, that I’ve read, has so effectively skewered the self righteous and hypocritical church goer as does Bashford. I have always wondered what event, or, what person(s) pissed off Sir Henry to the extent that he took the time to write this classic. Obviously it was a private venting, as he published it anonymously. One suspects that the good doctor might have alienated much of his client base had he signed his name to it.
Read the reviews, and by all means read the book. You won’t regret it.
Laughing at Augustus by Michael Dirda
The Neglected Books Page
It’s one thing for Mr. Faulks to play fast and loose with Ian Fleming’s James Bond, but quite another to presume to touch The Master. I’m not quite sure what the Wodehouse Estate were thinking of here…We already have around 100 books penned by a genius, I know, let’s get a modern novelist to write a new one, which is, of course, impossible, but what the heck…The mind does indeed boggle.
Anyone who is familiar with the Master’s work will understand why this is not only impossible, but also a very bad idea. There is no need for a new Wodehouse novel. Bertie and Jeeves are doing just fine as they are thank you. Wodehouse’s world was, and is unique and cannot be recreated by anyone, regardless of their skill as a writer. It inhabits its own universe, its own time, perfect and pristine, unchanging through time and space. One cannot add to the Sistine Chapel or re-imagine Michelangelo’s David, so why do they think they can write like Wodehouse? You. Can’t. Do. It.
So stop this nonsense at once. Please write your own books, but leave Plum’s alone.
“…It’s easy to think of Wodehouse (1881–1975) as the purveyor of literary comfort food. The flyleaves of Overlook Press’s Collector’s Wodehouse editions would make excellent wallpaper for a sanatorium, and simply seeing the spines on a shelf never fails to soothe me. A friend mentions that any random Wodehouse is his go-to subway reading—perfect for dipping into, no emotional commitment, it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish it. Indeed, you might have already finished it: The remarkable consistency and volume of his output means you can be pretty far into something before it dawns on you that you’ve read it before. Even his titles are designed to blur the lines. I couldn’t be trusted to tell you the difference between Mulliner Nights and Mr. Mulliner Speaking, Heavy Weather and Summer Lightning, Carry On, Jeeves and Very Good, Jeeves, though I’ve read them all. (I think.) This is in fact a virtue of Wodehouse’s work, although as we learn in a new collection of his letters, the author was sensitive to accusations that he was continually raking over the same fictional ground. In 1932, Wodehouse grumbled about a review by J. B. Priestley, who “called attention to the thing I try to hush up,—viz., that I have only got one plot and produce it once a year with variations.”…”