Three Men In A Boat-Jerome K Jerome
Three Men, George, Harris, Jerome of the Merry & Lazy Variety of well-to-do Young men of the Victorian Era feel so depressed with their routine & assumed illness (Munchausen Syndrome) that they decide to go on an Idyllic Cruise along London Thames River for a fortnight, in an equally depressing soggy weather. They pack their food, clothes & the fictional dog, Montmorency, in a small boat. They travel the Country along the Thames. Right from the word ’go’, nothing goes right for them. This book narrates what all they are forced to encounter & endure in their jolly (!?) boat ride. They really have hell of a time! Jerome winds up the story with a GRAND O’Henry Twist, leaving in us a satisfaction & pride that we too have read an English Fiction!
III. Why did I Choose to Read This Book in the first place?
Some years back, I came upon the humorous, Laughers’ Best , ’Uncle Podger Hangs a Picture’. (chapter III of this book). Then, I learnt this book was a favourite one of our Indiraji too. Immediately, highly motivated, I rushed to our school Library to pick this book up before others & started reading with great assumed enthusiasm. but found the going was not good. I read some parts at random & returned the book intact with a sly smile at the thought that my other friends too would read & suffer. It worked & whoever picked that book, secretly regretted for it.
Some years after, while in College, I came upon other interesting pieces from that same book. Then I wanted to give the book a second try. This time, I was mature enough to read the full book skipping some dreary patches of boring boating details. After this read, the book got stuck in my mind for life.
IV. What I consider As The Merits of this Book:
It’s a short easy-to-read (but not so easy to fully comprehend) book having just 19 short chapters, all told 150 pages, in Readable Print easy on the eyes.
Funny situations in & a clever, brilliant presentation of the story
In some limited measure, It helps us to gain the knowledge of & insight into human nature, follies & foibles & absurdities & ironies of Life.
4.Above all, the book is available On-line:
- Some Chapters are Simply Superb:
a) First & Top-most: The Way Uncle Podger Hangs A Picture’ finds me at my laughing best ! As a boy I didn’t need any reason to laugh out loud just to attract others’ attention ! Somehow, I always like watching persons troubling others.
b) The Cheese in the Train Episode (Chapter IV)
c) Dog’s Encounter with a Large Cat
d) The Vanishing Friend in the Field.
- Characterization: (All the three, Personification of attractive Laziness)
George, Harris & Jerome are the laziest young men of the despicable Victorian Era, each endowed with wits & a ’genteel ruthlessness’. The characters are well-defined, unique & distinct. They have a great depth for no use in the story. The Fictional Dog is also equally lazy & ’world-weary’ but pugnacious at times. Besides, Jerome’s ’personal Style gives the book its true character’.
- Style: Slow-paced & Circumlocutory as of the leisurely class with no sense of urgency.
V. Some Glimpses into Two of My Favorite Chapters:
a) ’Uncle podger Hangs A Picture:’
Podger is all thumbs, a poor workman but great in ranting & raving, complaining, cursing & swearing. He believes that in getting some work done there are two options: either he must do it himself or hire someone to do it. Thank God! he doesn’t know of the third: forbidding his kids from doing it as the sure way of getting it done! He prefers the first one & readily takes upon himself the burden of hanging the picture on the wall & put it on the back of other people in the family. (Harris is his replica)
He makes a big fuss & there was a lot of commotion in the house. He keeps them all on their toes to fetch things he needed, to hold the chair, lift the picture, search for his hanky in his coat etc etc. At last, he manages to hang the picture up ’in a very crooked & insecure way’ & surveys the mess with evident pride’! ’Everybody in the family was dead beat & wretched except Uncle Podger’.
This episode is a ’must-read’ for everyone, who loves fun.
b) The Cheeses In the Train Episode: (Oh Cheeses! How Powerful are you!)
He undertook to hand over Tom’s cheeses to his wife. He carries the mucky, Rotten-smelling Cheeses & marches up the railway platform. People fall back respectfully on either side. He gets into the train & puts his cheeses upon the rack. Co-passengers begin sniffing & leave the compartment one by one & sometimes in group on some pretext- He has the full compartment all to himself.------ The Coroner did not allow Tom to bury the Cheeses as they would wake up the Corpses! The story goes on like this.
VI. Some Sparkling Sample Passages (Quoted) :
a) ’I’ve found it (his Coat) myself now. Might just as well ask the cat to find anything as expect you people to find it’.
b) ’Seven of you gasping round there, and you don’t know what I did with the hammer’.
c) ’Oh, you women, you make such a fuss over everything’
d) ’Why some people would have had a man in to do a little thing like that’
- Other Quotes:
a) I can’t stand still & see another man slaving & working. I want to get up & superintend, & walk around with hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do’.
b) I like work. It fascinates me; I can sit & look at it for hours! (Widely Quoted one)
This book seems to prove some of Murphy’s Laws such as:
’Nothing is as easy as it looks’.
’Everything takes longer than you think’.
’Anything that can go wrong will go wrong’.
Don’t you know of the press report that says ’62.8 per cent of people all over the world agrees that the most desirable trait in a potential partner is a good sense of humor & being fun rather than money, sophistication, intelligence & physical attraction. I strongly recommend this book to all fun-lovers’.
Why lag behind? Buck yourself up by reading this book!