To drop the final shoe from our final discussion, I couldn’t resist turning to the OED to see what it said about “getting the mitten”. Here are the most relevant definitions (click on the picture below to enlarge the text).
So Wodehouse’s usage first appears in 1838; and note how quickly the illustrative quotations start coming from American sources. I also like the earlier (16th-18th century) entries that lay the figurative groundwork for the later colloquialism.
Last Saturday we went back and forth on just how good, or not, Wodehouse was. In Plenty of Room for Stupidity: On P.G. Wodehouse, a review of a collection of his letters, Brad Leithauser covers some of the same ground.
P. G. Wodehouse’s reputation suffered a steep fall in Britain as a result of radio broadcasts he made while a civilian prisoner in Germany in WWII. In his 1946 essay, In Defense of P. G. Wodehouse, George Orwell pushes back against the censure Wodehouse received, offers compelling explanations for what Wodehouse did, why the Germans wanted him to make the broadcasts, and why the reaction in Britain was so fierce and undeserved. In short, Orwell says, “the events of 1941 do not convict Wodehouse of anything worse than stupidity.”
P.G. Wodehouse republished with extensive revisions several of the stories in “My Man Jeeves”. Here’s a side-by-side view of two versions of the story Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest.
Tom’s ADDENDUM (June 8th)
I’ve been able to reformat the original PDF so that the columns of 1919’s and 1925’s texts line up better and it’s easier to see the revisions. I’ve also cleaned up some of the scanner’s mistakes and reduced the font size a bit.
(Final revision [that prints out better] posted 6pm, 6/8)
Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest (1919 and 1925) (TL Revision)