Monday, February 27, 2006

Wodehouse in India

Wodehouse never wrote about India, but sells better on the subcontinent than in Britain, with pirated copies in common circulation. He is one of the most heavily requested authors at the British Library in Delhi and there are clubs and internet chatrooms devoted to him.


The club’s president in the mid-1980s, Thomas Abraham, is now president of Penguin Books India, the country’s largest Wodehouse publisher. “We’ve all grown up with Wodehouse,” he says. “It’s a phenomenon here. When one of his books goes out of print, everyone goes ballistic. My publishing counterparts in the UK are very amused.”

The Times

1 comment:

Thos said...

Sashi Tharoor, who is quoted in your cutting from The Times, wrote a great article on this very subject four years ago in The Guardian Review, including this choice bit about how little Wodehouse is read in Britain today:

It was at the Hay-on-Wye Festival of Literature a few years ago that I realised with horror how low the fortunes of PG Wodehouse had sunk in his native land. I was on stage for a panel discussion on the works of the Master when the moderator, a gifted and suave young literary impresario, began the proceedings by asking innocently, "So how do you pronounce it - is it Woad-house or Wood-house?"
The fact was that a luminary at the premier book event in the British Isles had no idea how to pronounce the name of the man I regarded as the finest English writer since Shakespeare.

As is so often the case, it is those of us in the colonies, be we in India, Canada or elsewhere, to whom it falls to keep up the traditions of a m├ętropole that's lost its way.