By P.G. Wodehouse
Everyman is rumoured — I have never seen any physical evidence — of being in the process of republishing the entire Wodehouse canon in hardcover editions (minus Performing Flea, the musicals and the articles, I fear), but before those excellent people started on their ambitious project, Penguin was the publisher to go to if you wanted to get a new Wodehouse to complete your collection of second-hand Herbert Jenkins First Editions. Penguin, in their wisdom, have published Wodehouse in three formats — viz., and in chronological order from hoary to contemporary, orange-spined with Ionicus covers, orange-spined with Chris Riddell covers and, in a smaller format, varicoloured with David Hitch covers. Both Ionicus and Chris can be relied upon to produce a nice sketch if called upon. David cannot draw. Worse, far worse, was the decision to set the text with a ragged right edge. Unjustified and unjustifiable. You see, Wodehouse mixes a lot of dialogue with his exposition. And one of the visual clues a reader uses to recognize dialogue is that the right margin is rather more ragged than the right margin of the more narrative sections. Ragging every paragraph means that it is deuced hard to distinguish between dialogue and narrative. And that is what made me reluctant to read and finish my copy of Pigs Have Wings.
- Author: P.G. Wodehouse
- Title: Pigs Have Wings – A Blandings Story
- Pages: 231
- Published: 1999 (1952)
- Publisher: Penguin
- ISBN: 0-14-028463-X
The other thing is that it is a post-WW-II novel — see my introduction to French Leave. In Pigs Have Wings we return to Blandings Castle, always a pleasant spot to be, and nothing has changed since Jerry thought it a jolly good idea to toss a few V1’s in the general direction of London.
There are shocks to be experienced, though. Tubby Parsloe, the Matchingham bart., gets engaged twice, and one has the distinct impression that his second engagement will give results. Pigs are stolen — but that’s to be expected with a title like Pigs Have Wings. Impostors are placed in the woodwork, and booted out, and port is consumed in Beach’s pantry. And Rowling should have read the entire Blandings saga before attempting Luna Lovegood in The Order of the Phoenix (review of which will follow soon).
Formulaic, unchanging — but never stale or facile. This book is as well constructed as any of Wodehouse’s efforts, better than French Leave in any case, and Wodehouse’s use of English is of the highest uality. So: get this book, complete your collection, but avoid this particular edition like the plague. Any other (older) edition is better.