Book Title: Three Men In A Boat, To Say Nothing Of The Dog
Author: Jerome K. Jerome
Original Publication Date: 1889
Edition Read: Dent Publisher, 1974
Total Pages: 192
Reason Read: Friend on Goodreads recommended
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
To look at Montmorency you would imagine that he was
an angel sent upon the earth, for some reason withheld from mankind, in
the shape of a small fox-terrier. There is a sort of
make-it-better-and-nobler expression about Montmorency that has been
known to bring the tears into the eyes of pious old ladies and gentlemen.
When first he came to live at my expense, I never thought I should be
able to get him to stop long. I used to sit down and look at him, as he
sat on the rug and looked up at me, and think: “Oh, that dog will never
live. He will be snatched up to the bright skies in a chariot, that is
what will happen to him.”
But, when I had paid for about a dozen chickens that he had killed; and
had dragged him, growling and kicking, by the scruff of his neck, out of
a hundred and fourteen street fights; and had had a dead cat brought
round for my inspection by an irate female, who called me a murderer; and
had been summoned by the man next door but one for having a ferocious dog
at large, that had kept him pinned up in his own tool-shed, afraid to
venture his nose outside the door for over two hours on a cold night; and
had learned that the gardener, unknown to myself, had won thirty
shillings by backing him to kill rats against time, then I began to think
that maybe they’d let him remain on earth for a bit longer, after all.
I think I have found Bill Bryson’s inspiration! Jerome Jerome (J. for short) is hysterical. Get over the fact that this book is well over 100 years old. It is not stuffy or dated. It is filled with everyday observances and feelings towards the same stuff that anyone can relate to. Things like oversleeping, being a hypochondriac over the slightest sniffle, telling tall fishing tales, accidental boating mishaps, the challenges of pitching a tent, dislike of work and fondness for general laziness, to say nothing of the dog (ha ha).
J. relays the tale of he and his two buddies’ bright idea to take some days off and go boating up the Thames river with J.’s dog. They have lots of fun creating their packing list and less success actually packing. They row and tow their way up the river, stopping at lots of towns along the way. Sometimes they stay overnight on the boat, or camp, and every now and then find lodging in town. J. fills in the events of the journey with descriptions of each town, places to visit, history lessons, and tangents that something or other has reminded him of that are equally humorous.
I was terrifically entertained from beginning to end and felt like I was along for the ride. I only wish it had been a longer journey – I could have listened to J.’s stories about it for weeks on end.
It is always surprising to me when I discover that a Classic contains humor. It is hard enough to make jokes relevant for more than a few months these days. Imagine having the ability to make your jokes funny to readers over a century later! It is a reminder that regardless of the times that we live in, or how advanced we think we may have become, at the end of the day people are still basically the same creatures we have always been. Reading a great humorous classic like this makes me think perhaps I could have fit in back then after all. Maybe I would have enjoyed a boat ride with these bumbling idiots and their dog. It sounds a lot more entertaining than some of the options that present themselves to me in my everyday life!
Classics are not always stuffy, dramatic, lengthy and outdated. Sometimes they leave you begging for more laugh out loud funny moments because you’ve done or felt some of the very same things. Luckily for us, J. wrote a follow-up called Three Men On The Bummel. And inspired modern humorists like Bryson and his A Walk In The Woods. Read the roots of J. and make your way to Bryson. They will both give you hours of delight and belly laughs.