Jeeves & Wooster are back — not on the screen, however, but in print.
The current issue of Vanity Fair includes an excerpt from “Jeeves And The Wedding Bells,” which is due next month from author Sebastian Faulks, who was previously charged with filling Ian Fleming’s shoes via the James Bond novel “Devil May Care.” It’s the first new piece of Jeeves lit since Wodehouse wrote the last complete novel in 1974.
Judging from the synopsis at Amazon, it certainly sounds like a Jeeves & Wooster plotline:
… Bertie and Jeeves return in a hilarious affair of mix-ups and mishaps. With the approval of the Wodehouse estate, acclaimed novelist Sebastian Faulks brings these two back to life for their legion of fans. Bertie, nursing a bit of heartbreak over the recent engagement of one Georgina Meadowes to someone not named Wooster, agrees to “help” his old friend Peregrine “Woody” Beeching, whose own romance is foundering. That this means an outing to Dorset, away from an impending visit from Aunt Agatha, is merely an extra benefit. Almost immediately, things go awry and the simple plan quickly becomes complicated. Jeeves ends up impersonating one Lord Etringham, while Bertie pretends to be Jeeves’ manservant “Wilberforce,”—and this all happens under the same roof as the now affianced Ms. Meadowes. From there the plot becomes even more hilarious and convoluted, in a brilliantly conceived, seamlessly written comic work worthy of the master himself.
And judging by the excerpt in Vanity Fair, Faulks has the sparse writing style down.
Now if the pair were to return to the screen, who should play them this time around?
Geoffrey Woolf’s novel “The Final Club” is set at Princeton in the 1950s and contains the following passage about a clothes-conscious “dandy.” The scene takes place during Bicker, the brutal selection process for Princeton’s eating clubs. The upperclassmen can be arbitrary and cruel when it comes to weeding out undesirables, as the book’s protagonist Nathaniel learns:
A Colonial Clubman, glass of fashion and mold of form, sat across from Nathaniel. “Well, tell me about yourself.” The dandy was touching the shoulder of Nathaniel’s tweed jacket. “Say, that jacket’s badly dimpled!”
“Say what?” Nathaniel said.
“Dimpled! Do you use wire hangers?”
“I guess so, yes, yes, in fact I do.”
“There it is, then. Damned sin against a fine tweed sportcoat. Didn’t anyone at home advise you?”
“Advise me? I’m sorry…”
“Wooden hangers are de rigueur. Curved to the lie of the shoulder.”
“I never knew.”
“Jesus! Guys,” the Colonial Club macaroni said to his fellow-Bickerers, “this guy doesn’t know how to care for a tweed jacket.”
His clubmates stared at Nathaniel, who made a gesture of surrender.
“We’ve got to head on down the road,” said the clothes-care evangelist, rising, jotting notes to himself. “Never forget: curved wood hangers!”
Pictured above is a young gent from the Tuesday Night Euripides Club, from the 1956 Princeton yearbook presented at the Fine & Dandy blog.
Yesterday the Huffington Post reported on a new photo series by Sophia Wallace called “Modern Dandy.“
Writing on her website, Wallace describes the photo series thusly:
My many years of focusing on gender, race and constructions of beauty led me to dandyism as a radical position for art making and social critique. Indeed, dandyism’s subversive aesthetic of beauty disrupts normative gender in fascinating ways.
Wallace’s summation of the photo series serves as a convenient vocabulary list for anyone wishing to discuss the concept of dandyism without sounding like an airheaded fop. Consider it in keeping with the dandy tradition of talking seriously about trivial matters:
Then again, choosing a necktie in the morning (make that early afternoon) is difficult enough without having to worry about “performing a persona construct in a radical subversive aesthetic space that disrupts normative gender androgyny.”
Yesterday The Boston Globe reported on the “Artist/Rebel/Dandy” exhibit, which the Rhode Island School Of Design somehow managed to pull off without us.
Still, we managed to get a few contrarian words into the story, sparked by the reporter’s question of whether NFL quarterback Tom Brady qualified as a dandy. We replied that there’s a simple way to find out.
Quotes the article:
But Christian Chensvold , founder of the website Dandyism.net, points out that a dandy is more than a well-dressed man. “The magic of dandyism resides in the interplay between the dandy’s temperament and his appearance,” Chensvold writes on his website.
He contends that a dandy isn’t just someone who dresses well — therefore he rejects the idea that many current celebrities are dandies. Instead, he sees a dandy as a package of personality and appearance. A dandy speaks eloquently and spends his free time immersed in cultural and intellectual pursuits. He even offers a quiz on his website to determine if you are a dandy.
“I think the real dandies are people we don’t know,” Chensvold said in an e-mail. “In other words, they’re not famous, though they may be celebrated to an extent, such as the English writer Nick Foulkes. I’m also biased in that I see the legacy of dandyism as largely literary in nature, and I’m more likely to vote for men such as Foulkes and Tom Wolfe.”
And on the same day the Wall Street Journal takes on the subject with this corker:
We know a dandy when we see one. Three-piece or double-breasted suit of ineffable, enviable fit, often in rainbow-trippy tweeds, tattersalls and velvets. Pristine collar, tie and pocket square. Vivacious socks. Shoes pampered and polished. A boutonniere, hat, walking stick—or all three—as grace notes. The dandy has the disciplined vigor of a Bach fugue, the ebullience of a male warbler in spring plumage.
Put down that walking stick, pull up a chair, and see the rest of the article here.