Exit pursued by a bear

Exit pursued by a bear

I suppose the fundamental distinction between Shakespeare and myself is one of treatment. We get our effects differently. Take the familiar farcical situation of someone who suddenly discovers that something unpleasant is standing behind them. Here is how Shakespeare handles it in “The Winter’s Tale,” Act 3, Scene 3:

ANTIGONUS: Farewell! A lullaby too rough. I never saw the heavens so dim by day. A savage clamour! Well may I get aboard! This is the chase: I am gone for ever.

And then comes literature’s most famous stage direction:

“Exit pursued by a bear.”

All well and good, but here’s the way I would handle it:

BERTIE: Touch of indigestion, Jeeves?

JEEVES: No, Sir.

BERTIE: Then why is your tummy rumbling?

JEEVES: Pardon me, Sir, the noise to which you allude does not emanate from my interior but from that of that animal that has just joined us.

BERTIE: Animal? What animal?

JEEVES: A bear, Sir. If you will turn your head, you will observe that a bear is standing in your immediate rear inspecting you in a somewhat menacing manner.

BERTIE (as narrator): I pivoted the loaf. The honest fellow was perfectly correct. It was a bear. And not a small bear, either. One of the large economy size. Its eye was bleak and it gnashed a tooth or two, and I could see at a g. that it was going to be difficult for me to find a formula. “Advise me, Jeeves,” I yipped. “What do I do for the best?”

JEEVES: I fancy it might be judicious if you were to make an exit, Sir.

BERTIE (narrator): No sooner s. than d. I streaked for the horizon, closely followed across country by the dumb chum. And that, boys and girls, is how your grandfather clipped six seconds off Roger Bannister’s mile.

Who can say which method is superior?

P. G. Wodehouse – Over Seventy

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9 responses to “Exit pursued by a bear

  1. Found this post reblogged on Plumtopia.
    This is excellent!
    Perhaps a novel is in order – from the bit I’ve read of the Sebastian Faulks tribute, I think you’ve achieved the much nearer tone.

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