THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS, by Pelham Granville Wodehouse. Doubleday Doran, New York. 279 pages. $2.50.
FEW literary characters in the past decade have given the American public greater enjoyment (and a more distorted idea of the United Kingdom) than Bertie Wooster, and in Mr. Wodehouse's latest opus, his wealthy, good-natured, irresponsible hero returns, funnier than ever but with a new glint in the Wooster eye.
The explanation of young Bertram's new-found vigor is that buried beneath a typically complicated plot is a subtle lampoon at Sir Oswald Mosely, and indirectly at Fascism as a whole. Mr. Wodehouse, is too good an author, and possibly too clever a propagandist, ever to let his satire become oppressive, but he has given Bertie repeated opportunities to "tick off" Spode, totalitarian leader, in the strongest terms the lackadaisical hero has ever used.
The plot, subordinated as always to dialogue, deals with the theft or attempted theft of a constable's helmet, a notebook containing sundry libels, a silver creamer, and Anatole, the master chef.
Jeeves, gentleman's gentleman, hovers urbanely over the story and manocuvres his young master into many ridiculous situations, the funniest being that in which Bertram informs a horrified Sir Watkyn Bassett that he intends to marry that worthy's nicce. But the story leaves Bertic a single man and Mr. Wodehouse one in a million.