Jerome K Jerome
It seems a little odd to post a link to an eBook of a classic Victorian English novel, but that’s what I’m going to do tonight.
Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat… To Say Nothing of the Dog describes a journey on the Thames by three young men and a small dog in a Thames skiff equipped for camping. It’s a classic of boating literature and of Victorian English life, and seems to me to be a prototype for every road movie I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t had occasion to read it yet, I strongly recommend it – particularly if you have a keen sense of humour and are at least just a little interested in our funny English ways.
If you happen to be of a foreign persuasion, reading this book may help to explain a few things about the rosbifs.
To my mind, one of the key burning questions of English literature is which is the funniest and most influential interlude in Jerome’s book? Is it the incident with the cheese on the train, or the business with the tin of pineapple? If you read the book online or elsewhere, please let us know.
For more on Jerome K Jerome, take a peek at the Jerome K Jerome Society’s website and at the Wikipedia entry.
Here’s a link to one free eBook of Three Men in a Boat, and here’s another. And you can take a holiday in an Edwardian camping skiff here: Thames Skiff Hire.
Jerome is well known for a number of amusing and sharply observed observations on life, many of which are contained in his excellent essays. If after reading Three Men in a Boat you’re interested in explore his output further, I’d like to suggest you take a look a collection of his essays entitled Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.
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4 thoughts on “Three Men in a Boat”
That's timely, I was thinking about this book the other day. I haven't read it for many years but I remember one episode where Jerome describes the hanging of a picture on a wall, if my memory serves it was similar to building a boat.
Some intresting stuff…
I love the book, but it has had the unfortunate result that if you sit on the bank of the Thames on a sunny Sunday afternoon you will see at least four skiffs with three blokes in blazers and straw boaters, thinking they are frantically novel in recreating the trip.
It also has to be said that TMIAB includes long, sentimental and (dare I say it?) boring descriptions of local tourist sites.
Bless 'em in their innocence! 🙂
I've thought about the descriptive passages too, and ended by thinking
(i) that the Victorians wrote this way in general, and that making the trip to some of these tourist resorts must have been at least a little exciting and exotic in the 1880s,
(ii) that many of Jerome's readers will not have made the trip to the Thames (having lived in poor circumstances, he would be aware of that) and maybe felt he should tell them all about it,
(ii) that one of the things that makes TMIAB interesting is that much of it seems surprisingly modern, thought the terse stylists of the 20th century were still a long way off in the 1880s!