The Man Who Disliked Cats by P.G. Wodehouse, 1912
The magic trick:
Very funny turns of phrase
Time for some good ol’ fashioned silliness in this crazy world of ours.
Thank goodness for P.G. Wodehouse.
The plot is absurd (of course). The stakes are ridiculous (of course). The characters are ludicrous (of course).
We’re here for the writing – the classic Wodehousian turn of phrase. What could be better? The narrator, having accidentally heaved a cat into the face of his uncle and employer, reminds the listener: “I am there in his hotel, you will understand, as cashier, not as cat-thrower.” What more do you want?
And that’s quite a trick on Wodehouse’s part.
I am in Paris, young, ardent, artistic. I wish to paint pictures. I ‘ave the genius, the ent’usiasm. I wish to be disciple of the great Bouguereau. But no. I am dependent for support upon an uncle. He is rich. He is proprietor of the great Hotel Jules Priaulx. My name is also Priaulx. He is not sympathetic. I say, ‘Uncle, I ‘ave the genius, the ent’usiasm. Permit me to paint.’ He shakes his head. He say, ‘I will give you position in my hotel, and you shall earn your living.’ What choice? I weep, but I kill my dreams, and I become cashier at my uncle’s hotel at a salary of thirty-five francs a week. I, the artist, become a machine for the changing of money at dam bad salary. What would you? What choice? I am dependent. I go to the hotel, and there I learn to ‘ate all animals. Cats especially.
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