Checking in with P. G. Wodehouse

P. G. Wodehouse turned 90 in October 1971, was (finally!) awarded a knighthood in January 1975, and died in February 1975. One of the couple of people who managed to interview him shortly before his death was Gerald Clarke, who published the interview in The Paris Review (Winter 1975): P. G. Wodehouse, The Art of Fiction No. 60 — it’s a lovely interview, that I have read often.

I posted this on G+ in 2015 when I first read it:

What a frightfully happy chap, the Master at 90+.

Nothing fazes him. Whether characters like his really exist in the world is not a concern. He knows what he’s doing, knows he couldn’t do anything else, knows he’s good at what he does, is happy. If critics complain about something, he cheerfully accepts their criticism but with no regrets. He rereads the same old books he likes. (“Every year or so I read Shakespeare straight through.”) He cannot recall any bad times in his life. He is aware of how fortunate he has been.

A. A. Milne was nasty to him, spearheading the public lynching of his reputation (link) but having got it out of his system he continues to read Milne’s books for pleasure.

A life well lived.

Just discovered today that a year earlier, the interviewer had published another article in Esquire (May 1974) based on the same encounter (so with some overlap, but published as a profile rather than an interview): “Checking in with P G Wodehouse: Notes in Passing on a Life Still in Progress”, and it’s available online. I just cut out the relevant pages and they’re here:

Edit 2024-02-24: Just thinking more about his good cheer, e.g. these two parts from the above:

Here is someone who:

…and he says he’s had no unhappiness in his life. I guess one has to be born that way alright; what a blessing.