Critical Context

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Full Moon is one of several novels in the Blandings cycle, all set at Blandings Castle and all carefully plotted in Wodehouse’s cinematic style. It thus represents a fair sampler of Wodehouse style and substance. His plots are ingenious and uproarious, his dialogue crisp, direct, and genuinely amusing, his endings predictably happy. His novels thus meet a general audience’s appetite for genteel romantic comedy occurring within absurdly pretentious social settings.

One Wodehousian literary trademark that Full Moon exhibits in an extraordinary manner is the masterful use of the elaborate simile. Whether he is describing Lord Emsworth’s affection for his prize pig (“He could hear her deep, regular breathing, and he was drinking it in as absorbedly as if it had been something from the Queen’s Hall conducted by Sir Henry Wood”) or the courtship of young lovers (“Tipton Plimsoll, feeling as if some strong hand had struck him shrewdly behind the ear with a stuffed eelskin, stared bleakly at this lovers’ reunion”), Wodehouse deftly uses this figure of speech to heighten the reader’s sense of his character’s eccentricities. As many critics have observed, few twentieth century writers have come close to Wodehouse’s skill in employing the simile to capture the buffoonery of snobbish characters.

Wodehouse wrote nearly fifty “adult” novels, earning praise from such disparate sources as George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. In 1939, he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and many of his contemporaries regarded him as a modern Oscar Wilde. Among critics of Wodehouse, there is hardly a middle ground: He is regarded either as one of the most amusing English-language humorists in the twentieth century or one of the most predictable and, thus, redundant writers ever to achieve public success.