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Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel (Oxford World's Classics)

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Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel

Oxford World's Classics

By Jerome K. Jerome, Geoffrey Harvey (Edited by)

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Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Other Information: frontispiece, 1 line illustration, 3 maps
Published In: United Kingdom, 13 November 2008
'Other works may excel this in depth of thought and knowledge of human nature: other books may rival it in originality and size; but, for hopeless and incurable vivacity, nothing yet discovered can surpass it.' (Jerome, Preface to Three Men in a Boat). Three Men in a Boat describes a comic expedition by middle-class Victorians up the Thames to Oxford. It provides brilliant snap-shots of London's playground in the late 1880s, where the fashionable steam-launches of river swells encounter the hired skiffs of city clerks. The medley of social vignettes, farcical incidents, descriptions of river fashions, and reflections on the Thames's history, is interspersed with humorous anecdotes told by a natural raconteur. Three Men on the Bummel records a similar escapade, a break from the claustrophobia of suburban life some ten years later; their cycling tour in the Black Forest, at the height of the new bicycling craze, affords Jerome the opportunity for a light-hearted scrutiny of German social customs at a time of increasing general interest in a country that he loved. This account of middle-aged Englishmen abroad is spiced with typical Jeromian humour. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

About the Author

Geoffrey Harvey is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Reading.

EAN: 9780199537976
ISBN: 0199537976
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.95 x 2.03 centimetres (0.26 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Dr. Rod Pitcher on
 
I was not impressed by Three Men in a Boat. Why anyone ever thought it funny is beyond me. I found it boring and difficult to get interested in. I only persisted with it to see how it ended, but it wasn’t worth the effort.

It starts off with the narrator is feeling ill. He always does, he’s a hypochondriac. He’s fed up with London and wants to get away for a holiday.

He discusses it with two friends who also want a holiday. They decide to spend a fortnight sailing a boat up the Thames, camping at various places as they feel like it.

The first three chapters are about all the boring arguments they get into over what to take with them, where to go and when to start. As a result, they start later than they had planned. Eventually, with Montmorency the dog, they get going.

The book doesn’t get much more interesting.

There are a few descriptions of places they visit along the Thames, but they are short and lacking in depth. They are mildly interesting if you’ve never heard of the places before, but are not enough to make the book interesting. They don’t, unfortunately, distract very much from the horrible story of the men’s incompetence. If they had, they might have made the book worthwhile.

As it happens, they don’t sail all the way up the Thames and back down again to London, as they had planned. In the end, pouring rain dampens their spirits (and them) and they give up and catch a train back to London and its bright night-life. A very weak ending to a very weak book.

Many people have said that this book is ‘a comic classic’. I didn’t find it to be so. It’s just a long-winded account of the way three incompetents (and their dog) manage to get themselves into all sorts of trouble. I didn’t find it at all funny.

I didn’t bother reading the second story in the book Three Men on the Bummel. A short glance showed that it was just more of the same except on bikes and in Germany. After ploughing through Three Men in a Boat I couldn’t be bothered with it.

Not recommended, unless you enjoy reading stories about Victorian-era incompetent upper-class English twits getting themselves into troubles of their own creation.

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