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Wodehouse and Wittgenstein

The philosopher most often associated with Wodehouse is surely Spinoza. We know Jeeves preferred him to Nietzsche, whom he famously proclaimed to be ‘fundamentally unsound’ (Carry On, Jeeves). Jeeves’ views on the philosopher Wittgenstein are less clear, but it seems Wittgenstein was fundamentally sound in his appreciation for P.G. Wodehouse – as discussed in this lovely piece by George Simmers. My thanks to George Simmers for his kind permission to reblog here.

HP

Great War Fiction

During my Dornford Yates talk at the Newcastle Great War and Popular Culture conference earlier this year, I got an unexpected laugh (as well as some chuckles I’d planned for). It was when I quoted Wittgenstein saying:

I couldn’t understand the humour in Journey’s End.… I wouldn’t want to joke about a situation like that.”

I suppose people thought I was having a dig at humourless Teutons, or over-serious philosophers, but I didn’t intend this, actually.

In fact, Wittgenstein seems to have had a serviceable enough sense of humour when not in his most intellectually savage moods, and was a fan of P.G.Wodehouse (full details can be found in Ludwig Wittgenstein : Personal Recollections, ed. Rhees, Rush, Oxford 1981).

According to the memoir, Wittgenstein named Wodehouse’s Honeysuckle Cottage as the funniest thing he’d ever read. Not perhaps one of P.G.’s most famous works, it’s one of the…

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