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Pieter Boogaart and his Mortdecai Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Anna Maria Polidori on May 8, 2014

PG Wodehouse’s fan Pieter Boogaart analyzes The Mortdecai Trilogy and the direct correlations with PG Wodehouse

We all Know Johnny Depp Imagewill be back on screen this next february 6th 2015 with The Mortdecai Trilogy.

I decided of creating a series of articles  involving Bonfiglioli‘s world and this time it’s the turn of the correlations, similarities and differences of the author, with PG Wodehouse  one of Bonfiglioli‘s biggest heroes.

 

Pieter Boogaart European Secretary of the Folly Fellowship, book reviewer, writer

Image

Pieter wrote this book in collaboration with his wife Rita

and teacher, wrote several years ago an article reviewing The Mortdecai Trilogy analyzed through the lens of a Wodehouse fan and into a Wodehouse perspective.

The article in stand-by for something like six years, it was written in fact in 2007, was released only on march 2013 by the Wooster Sauce the quarterly journal of The PG Wodehouse Society based in UK. The journal is the PG Wodehouse Society journal like also By the Way.
Wooster Sauce is 24 pages or more and contains both humorous and scholarly articles on P G Wodehouse and his works, as well as photos, graphics, poems, quotes, reviews, and Society news. At first, for a decade it was edited by Wodehouse scholar Tony Ring. Actual editor is Elin Woodger Murphy and all members, and non members from all over the world can give their contribution. The journal wants to entertain and inform. The motto? Take a regular dose of Wooster Sauce at bedtime, and you will sleep like a contented baby.

The article written by Pieter Boogaart is incredibly very well done stunningly interesting.

I want to start to thank for the courtesy Elin Murphy the editor of the Wooster Sauce and Kristine Fowler treasurer of The Wodehouse Society for the help.

To me it is necessary to trying to understand the similarities and the big differences existing between the two dimensions of hilarity and humor of these two authors respectively for writing-style and humor both very remarkable.

In Wodehouse the life is hilarious and situations ironic but positive and funny, pretty relaxing.

Bonfiglioli although will largely use the same hilarity will locate and transfer the dimension of humor in a darkest dimension of the life.

At the same time I had to ask for some help at someone more close to P.G. Wodehouse for many reasons. Fans and specialist of the sector can be of great help, considering that when I read Wodehouse something like 14-15 years I read it in italian and Bonfiglioli hasn’t been a joke and I couldn’t be in grade to recognize always direct Wodehouse’s tributes.

The title of the article by Boogaart is very intelligent: Wodehouse Whiffs: The Mortdecai Trilogy. Yes well, that word is more than right. There is a strong connection between in fact irony and murder, irony and crime with Charlie Mortdecai as we can’t find with great simplicity in many other books.

To Bonfiglioli’s character Charlie Mortdecai, morality means perversion and illegality.

To him murdering or stealing or living out of any decent honest rule in the life is just a story of normal administration of the existence. I would be surprised if someone like Mortdecai would act with morality, because I am more than sure that Charlie wouldn’t be in grade to acting morally and maybe he would lose all his charm and sensuality to, if he would act as a common human being. Cruelty is in his blood like is in his blood having such funny time with the life, living the life ’til the possible extreme consequences being a heartless man.

Bonfiglioli to me in a way has re-created a sorta of little “Portrait of Dorian Gray” metaphorically. As I said in a previous article, his life has been at time “adventurous” and sometimes legality not always respected. Maybe he has loved to transfer his heavy potentially heavy darkest part of the soul in literature.

Back to Pieter Boogaart’s review. Boogaart introduces Bonfiglioli saying: “He (Bonfiglioli) was a great admirer of the Master of Folly and I have never come across a writer who so copiously and freely quoted from Wodehouse’s works“.

Boogaart adds. “Bonfiglioli wrote with a great sense of humor, but a perverted one“. True.

I had always thought that if a reader has read Wodehouse then maybe can have a sort of shock reading The Mortdecai Trilogy and thinking will find the same situations. I wasn’t wrong. It happened with me and Boogaart: “I hesitate to recommend him to Wodehouse readers, who are such civilized and gentle folk on the whole“. The main reason: “In one scene that is both gruesome and hilarious, somebody gets his ear nailed to a tree”. So Boogaart warn potential Wodehouse’s readers that of course humor is not the same one of P.G. and that “The Trilogy is full of this kind of stugg, but Bonfiglioli’s style is witty, a bit salacious, and has fast-paced suspense“.

Boogaart now takes in consideration the characters created by Wodehouse and the ones created by Kyril Bonfiglioli.

Apart from the wit, it’s not what we would expect from Wodehouse or his fans. The main character in all three books, Charlie Mortdecai, is an immoral art dealer and adventurer.
Bertie Wooster had faithful Jeeves; Mortdecai has faithful Jock, who is an uneducated and streetwise thug, always ready with tea in the morning and knuckle-dusters for other occasions“.

This is true: and plus I would want to add something something else at Boogaart’s words.

There is to say, for example, that at time or very often or maybe always Jeeves is more intelligent than Bertie, while with Mortdecai song is different.

Jock is a name much more dark than of course the one of Jeeves where the letters sounds melodical, while in Jock’s case, hard.
Jock: hard character able of being helpful in any possible legal and illegal situation. Perfect in the mansion of common butler although there is not morality at all in Jock. As for Charlie Jock is another cruel man. Yes a good pair for sure.

All the good character and penetration of thought Jeeves has, with Jock is replaced by the necessity of being cruel because there is the necessity of acting in cruel situations. With pleasure. He won’t never complain, don’t worry.

As I thought Boogaart admits that: “A reader must be well versed in Wodehouse  to spot all the references“.

As I said previously I needed some help.

Boogaart continues: “There are characters’ names which faintly smack of Wodehouse, like the car mechanic Spinoza (Jeeves’s favorite author) and H.Glossop, a young lady reporter. but mostly the PGW links consist of general expressions and quotations from other authors whom Wodehouse favours. Sometimes they are grouped together“.

Let’s see which ones:

…So I simply left the room in a marked manner and stayed not upon the order of my going.

The lark was one the wing and flying strongly, while the snail was positively striding up its favorite thorn. Admittedly. there was one fly trampling about in the ointment of my content….

Sleep, Nature’s kindly nurse, raveled up the sleeve of care until dinner-time, when I arose with my nerve-endings more or less adequately darned“.

Boogaart thinks Bonfiglioli at time would be bothered by Wodehouse Whiffs. “As if this were a disease and sometimes these expressions appear on their own“.

Some.: “You interest me strangely, I said”.

“Be that as it many, tell me now, without evasion and in your own words, omitting no detail however slight, what is for dinner tonight?”

There is a quote from Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur.

“This way and that like Odysseus on so many occasions, I divided my swift mind”.

Boogaart: “Tennyson was talking about King Arthur, not Odysseus, whom he would have called Ulysses, anyway”. He asks to himself and to the Wodehouse’s fans: “This is a simple mistake by Bonfiglioli or does Tennyson use this saying more than once. A great number of such expressions are used. It’s a lot more fun if I live it to you to discover them yourself“.

Quotations where Wodehouse is more obvious to Boogaart.

“Are you aware,I asked bravely, that you are occupying space which I have other uses for? Or other for which I have other uses?”
“I like P.G. Wodehouse too, sir, he rejoined, but I would hesitate to use any kind of flippancy in the situation you find yourself in. Or rather, in which you find yourself”.

Boogaart: “I gaped at the man. Perhaps he was human after all“.

In the following example, the reference involving Wodehouse is camouflaged writes Boogaart:

“Back in my slum on the fourth floor in Upper Book Street…Jock sidled in.
“Jock I said severely, I have repeatedly asked you not to sidle. I will have not this sidling. It smacks of the criminal classes. If you wish to better yourself you must learn to shimmer. That’s the name of those naval-outfitter chaps at the Piccadilly end of Bond Strert?”
“Gieves?”
“That’s it, there you are, you see, I said completely vindicated”.

Boogaart: “But Bonfiglioli usually quotes Wodehouse with insouciance and quiet cheerily, even using words like “To Wooster” ad “Woosterism” as in this next quote“.

“Wheel on the life-giving fluids without delay….We Woostered away for a while giggling silenty at the thought of grim-jawed FBI men and beetle-browed CIA men frantically sending out “Code Orange Trace Orders” on such ornaments of the Drones Club as Oofy Prosser and Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps…..While we idly bandied these Woosterisms….After another invigoriting suck at the brandy-tit we parted with many a friendly message to Freddied Widgeon and Honoria Glossop…..Charlie don’t believe a world old Mulliner says” I gasped, but mumbled, grinning inaudibly”.

Boogaart: “This last quote shows lots of Wodehouse references on one page. This was a very serious attack of Wodehouse Whiffs.

The opinion of Pieter Boogaart about The Mortdecai Trilogy.

“I enjoyed reading it tremendously for Bonfiglioli’s wit and creative use of language, and for the contrast his naughtiness and pace provides with the relative tranquility and languorous humor of Wodehouse”.

The suggestion to the Wodehouse Society Members. “You should, perhaps, try Bonfiglioli, tough he is not for the faint-hearted”. I assure the reader that it is true. At first there is a sort of shock. Reading it will pass.

The end of the article is reserved to another quotation. Charlie Mortdecai and Jock Strapp have returned home after a lot of funny, nice and criminal (of course!) adventures. Charlie asks for a drink.

“Jock, please add one of your extra-special jam-sandwiches to that order, if you will be so kind”.
“Right Mr. Charlie; that’s one large rum, one jam semwidge”.
“And one canary”..
“Right Mr. Charlie”
“Right Jock” I said.

 

Anna Maria Polidori

 

 

 

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