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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"The Man With Two Left Feet" by P. G. Wodehouse

I enjoy listening to The Classic Tales Podcast, in which B. J. Harrison reads aloud old favorites and more obscure pieces that are in the public domain. When I clicked on "The Man With Two Left Feet," I came across Harrison's accurate interpretation of the main character's traits of Asperger's syndrome.
Now, I know that the definition of autism has been evolving since 1908 until what it is today, but I think that the hero of today’s story is on what is now considered the autism spectrum. My reasons for saying this?

1) His method of study is unorthodox, and requires an incredible amount of tenacity, even fixation. Most people couldn’t do this. This is what I term the autism super power.

2) His unwillingness to vary his study schedule of the Encyclopedia (He won’t skip a volume).

3) He imagines a fantasy scheme where his problems are all solved, and works diligently to accomplish this impossible task.

4) He is rather socially awkward, bless him.
This is no way official, and I can’t back it up with anything other than my own observations, but when I read this story, it struck me how my autistic son has many of these same character traits. He also demonstrates the autism super power, and is a truly amazing boy. I find it encouraging that P.G. Wodehouse saw how characters of this temperament could find happiness and love in a world that largely misunderstands them.
Maybe you'd like to hear or read "The Man With Two Left Feet" yourself - and who knows? - maybe you'll see yourself reflected there. The link to The Classic Tales Podcast is no longer working, so here is a link to another reader's interpretation of Wodehouse's comical work.

Section 09 in Short Story Collection Vol. 065 on Librivox