Easily one of the wittiest English writers of the early twentieth-century, P.G. Wodehouse was famous (or infamous) for his biting satire. Writing for Vanity Fair in May 1914, Wodehouse turned his sights on physical culture, a topic he was already well acquainted with. Perhaps you may recognise your own health behaviour in the article? Sadly I certainly can… The article goes well with our previous posting on ‘the Food Fadist‘.
Physical culture is in the air just now. Where, a few years ago, the average man sprang from bed to bath and from bath to breakfast-table, he now postpones his onslaught on the boiled egg for a matter of fifteen minutes. These fifteen minutes he devotes to a series of bendings and stretchings which in the course of time are guaranteed to turn him into a demi-god. The advertisement pages of the magazines are congested with portraits of stern-looking, semi-nude individuals with bulging muscles and fifty-inch chests, who urge the reader to write to them for illustrated booklet. Weedy persons, hitherto in the Chippendale class, are developing all sort of unsuspected thews, and the moderately muscular citizen (provided he has written for and obtained the small illustrated booklet) begins to have grave doubts as to whether he will be able, if he goes on at this rate, to get the sleeves of his overcoat over his biceps.