Critical Assessment

“Mr. Wodehouse has never descended further into the dangerous regions of broad farce than in his latest book, “Meet Mr. Mulliner.” He has never taken larger liberties with the entire cordon of esthetic probabilities. If his hand had been a shade more heavy, or his spirits a trifle less effervescent, the descent might easily have been a disaster. As it is, Mr. Wodehouse has done a job which few, if any, of his contemporaries could have managed. He has punned and bubbled and burlesqued his way through nine frothy, inimitable stories. Not one of them is strained beyond the point of satisfaction, not one of them is labored or forced. And two of them, at least, deserve to be called the best of their kind.”

“‘Leave Me With a Smile’ and Other Recent Novels,” The New York Times, March 4, 1928.

First Excerpt

“He felt most amazingly fit. Undoubtedly, in asserting that this tonic of his acted forcefully upon the red corpuscles, his Uncle Wilfred had been right. Until that moment Augustine had never supposed that he had any red corpuscles; but now, as he sat waiting for Mrs. Wardle to bring him his fried egg, he could feel them dancing about all over him. They seemed to be forming rowdy parties and sliding down his spine. His eyes sparkled, and from sheer joy of living he sang a few bars from the hymn for those of riper years at sea.

“He was still singing when Mrs. Wardle entered with a dish.

“‘What’s this?’ demanded Augustine, eyeing it dangerously.

“‘A nice fried egg, sir.’

“‘And what, pray, do you mean by nice? It may be an amiable egg. It may be a civil, well-meaning egg. But if you think it is fit for human consumption, adjust that impression. Go back to your kitchen, woman; select another; and remember this time that you are a cook, not an incinerating machine. Between an egg that is fried and an egg that is cremated there is a wide and substantial difference. The difference, if you wish to retain me as a lodger in these far too expensive rooms, you will endeavour to appreciate.'”

meet-mr-mulliner-400x400-imadhh9fkdkudjbpSecond Excerpt

“‘Shall we dance?’ he said.

“‘Can you dance?’ said the girl.

“Lancelot gave a short, amused laugh. He had had a good University education, and had not failed to profit by it. He was a man who never let his left hip know what his right hip was doing.

“‘I am old Colonel Charleston’s favorite son,’ he said, simply.

“A sound like the sudden descent of an iron girder on a sheet of tin, followed by a jangling of bells, a wailing of tortured cats, and the noise of a few steam-riveters at work, announced to their trained ears that the music had begun. Sweeping her to him with a violence which, attempted in any other place, would have earned him a sentence of thirty days coupled with some strong remarks from the Bench, Lancelot began to push her yielding form through the sea of humanity till they reached the centre of the whirlpool. There, unable to move in any direction, they surrendered themselves to the ecstasy of the dance, wiping their feet on the polished flooring and occasionally pushing an elbow into some stranger’s encroaching rib.”

“‘This,’ murmured the girl with closed eyes, ‘is divine.’

“‘What?’ bellowed Lancelot, for the orchestra, in addition to ringing bells, had now begun to howl like wolves at dinner-time.

“‘Divine,’ roared the girl. ‘You certainly are a beautiful dancer.'”