On Prefaces

This was such a delightful read:

It fails to topple my all time favorite preface, but given that that one was written by the one and only Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, it is entirely understandable. No?

Here is the first paragraph, but you really should read the whole thing (and of course, the entire novel).

A certain critic – for such men, I regret to say, do exist – made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained ‘all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.

Preface: Summer Lightning, by PG Wodehouse.

He was pretty good at dedications too:

“To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.”

I couldn’t for the life of me (alas) remember which Wodehouse book this came from. But this column proved helpful, and also proved to be thoroughly enjoyable, so here you go.

The Heart of a Goof, if you are not in a clicking through frame of mind.

What Else Is There But Stories?

I have spent the day immersed in Leave it To Psmith, and what a magnificent day it was. And I have now purchased Summer Lightning, and I refuse to feel the least bit guilty about it, so there.

On a related note, I also happened to read a (mostly) lovely essay by Salman Rushdie titled “Ask Yourself Which Books You Truly Love“:

All human life is here, brave and cowardly, honorable and dishonorable, straight-talking and conniving, and the stories ask the greatest and most enduring question of literature: How do ordinary people respond to the arrival in their lives of the extraordinary? And they answer: Sometimes we don’t do so well, but at other times we find resources within ourselves we did not know we possessed, and so we rise to the challenge, we overcome the monster, Beowulf kills Grendel and Grendel’s more fearsome mother as well, Red Riding Hood kills the wolf, or Beauty finds the love within the beast and then he is beastly no more. And that is ordinary magic, human magic, the true wonder of the wonder tale.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/24/opinion/sunday/salman-rushdie-world-literature.html

And (or should the word be but?) because us economists are always supposed to look at all ides of the issue, here’s the other side of the spectrum:

As a simple rule of thumb, just imagine every time you’re telling a good vs. evil story, you’re basically lowering your I.Q. by ten points or more.

https://fs.blog/2012/01/the-danger-of-storytelling/

Here’s the full talk.

(And finally, do remember that The Truth Always Lies Somewhere In The Middle)