I came to Wodehouse in a round-about way. I'd heard of Jeeves of course (in fact Jeeves was generic for Butler in my family- as in, "Jeeves, kindly replace the toilet paper roll in the bathroom", or "Jeeves, peel me a grape."), but my first exposure to the literary version was through a Wodehouse-inspired short story in one of the science fiction magazines that I used to get (Isaac Asimov's? Analog?) that featured Lord Emsworth (or an Emsworth type) switching brains with his beloved pig Empress (the result? not a lot of difference either way). I don't remember the title or the author, but I definitely remember that it was incredibly funny. And that it led me to my library
Where I discovered Uncle Fred in the Springtime, which I think is the funniest book I've ever read. Period.
Jacket blurbs never do books justice, and that's the case with this one as well. The story is wonderfully funny, so funny that you might not notice how incredibly well it was plotted and written. And of course, Uncle Fred led me to the rest of the oeuvre, which I devoured.
Unfortunately, I was the only one who ever checked these books out from our library, so when they finally got to be too shabby for the shelves, the librarian offered them to me (as opposed to tossing them the garbage bin). I jumped at the chance to own the set. I was even more excited when I saw this:
The book is in tough shape- ragged binding, torn cover, no dust jacket- just the glued flaps, retired library written all over inside (and as Alan pointed out- it's an American first edition, no British spelling), but still...
But regardless of the edition, it's the words that count. And this, word for word, is the funniest passage in the English language: