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Three Men in a Boat & Three Men on the…

Three Men in a Boat & Three Men on the Bummel

by Jerome K. Jerome

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Three Men in a Boat (omnibus)

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7091813,323 (4.05)37
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    The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: A work of humor dressed up like travel literature and full of dry wit and set pieces.

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Reading these books are like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers. Humorous and delightful on the first or second reading.
  M_Clark | Mar 12, 2016 |
There are words that have fallen out of disfavor. They have taken on the feel of age or mustiness or a sense that what was once a compliment has now turned into something less. One such word is "whimsy". We may get by with occasionally calling something whimsical. But if we say that something has whimsy or is a piece of whimsy, there is a suggestion that we are being somewhat derogatory.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word. It is a word intended to imply fun and playfulness with a hint of unpredictability. It is a word that speaks of a type of humor that does not take itself too seriously. It is not mean humor; it is humor that is just meant to be enjoyed.

A perfectly good word and a word that is definitely complimentary.

Upon completing the two books included in this collection, the first word that came to mind was whimsy. In Three Men and a Boat we follow J. and his two friends as they try their best to enjoy a voyage up the Thames. This journey is a story of the many things that go wrong. However, if that were all, then it would be farce and pratfalls. No, it becomes more (hilariously more) because Jerome is able to describe the foibles of the three in a way that is also enlightening about their characters. These are not ciphers just falling in the mud; these are flawed (funny) people falling in the mud.

The second book, Three Men on the Bummel, follows the same three friends as they decide to take a bike ride through Germany. The same flaws, foibles, and falls harass the three in a different environment. But this is more than just the same story told in a different location. Jerome is able to bring a new perspective to these individuals while exploring a whole new geographic area. Time has changed the three. But within they are still as hapless as ever. In particular, the attempts to convince their wives (wives which did not exist in the first story) of the importance of the voyage are particular enlightening while being very funny.

There is an extra nuance put to these tales because of the historical backdrop – a period that was not historical at the time of the writing. Travels up the Thames were all the rage at the time, but it was also a time that was seeing changes in the landscape and the population. This is evident in the story that is told, and part of the humor comes from those changes – changes that were not always welcome by everyone.

Similarly, by the time Bummel was published, bicycles were all the rage and everyone was making similar trips. What becomes strange in this second tale is that we all know what is about to happen in Germany. In fact, changes were in the works, and the world was gearing for war (even if it didn't know it.) Some of the last paragraphs are hard to read because we know where some of this is going to lead.

Thinking about it just a touch more, it is interesting that I chose the word whimsy when I am talking about books written in 1889 and 1900. An old word for some old books. And maybe the reason the word "whimsy" has fallen out of fashion is because this type of book has fallen out of fashion. If so, it is indeed a shame. I literally laughed out loud while reading some passages (as always, strange looks from fellow passengers on the plane) and spent most of the time smiling. That is not a bad thing. And if, because of it, I have to defend "whimsy", then so be it. I would suggest you try these books and see if you can't become a fan of whimsy yourself. ( )
1 vote figre | Aug 12, 2014 |
Three Men In A Boat - There is a reason this is a classic. It's not just that it's hilarious, although it is. It's the way that you know people like George, Harris and J, and everyone's had disasters just like theirs.

The other interesting thing is that you don't feel like you're reading something set more than a hundred years ago. It's just the occasional mention of things like steam launches that make you remember it.

This is awesome.

Three Men On The Bummel - I can see why Jerome didn't write a lot of the more descriptive passages that were found in Three Men In A Boat in this, it left more room for commentary on the people they meet on their journey and getting permission to go on it in the first place, but I did miss them a bit. Mostly I would have liked to have known what Dresden looked like, because I could follow their journey round Berlin and Prague, but Dresden's changed so much that I didn't have a hope.

I also loved the bits about the German language and the teaching of foreign languages in England. ( )
  redfiona | Jun 3, 2014 |
[Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog!] by [[Jerome K. Jerome]] - J. and his friends Harris and George are bored, and so they decide to go on a boating vacation up the Thames. (With J.'s dog Montmorency.) They have benign but hilarious adventures and also discuss the scenery around them as they travel from London to Oxford, and its importance in English history. J. narrates with many, many tangential anecdotes about this uncle that taught him how best to pack a trunk and that friend who got stuck in the river without a paddle.

[Three Men on the Bummel] by [[Jerome K. Jerome]] - 10+ years later, J. and Harris need a break from married life and fatherhood so they recruit George (who is still a bachelor) and the three of them go on another vacation. This time they decide to go on a bicycle trip through the Black Forest. Not a lot of actual bicycling is done, of course, but there is no lack of excuses as to why they need to be driven somewhere instead.

These books were so hilarious; I really wish they had been on my radar earlier. The best part of the first book is, of course, the dog (whom J. talks about as if he was a person). There is an unfortunate lack of dog in the second book, but it's hilarious none the less. I enjoyed the copious commentary on Germany and Germans, and felt definite pangs of nostalgia as they traveled through Prague. J. and his friends were part of a whole new class of people at that point in history - the middle class, who had spending money but no pretensions or social obligations. Reading about them having fun (and then three pages about J's uncle trying to hang a picture, and then more about them having fun) is truly delightful. ( )
  norabelle414 | Apr 13, 2014 |
There are two books in this compilation, and I will review them individually.

Three Men in a Boat is to the Victorian era what the works of P.G. Wodehouse are to the Edwardian. Very funny, in the understated British way, with a lot of comic juxtaposition of elevated language to describe mundane matters, and vice versa. What sets this book aside is the convivial atmosphere that these three men exhibit, which invites the reader in and makes them feel part of the journey.

And it was a journey that I was sad to see at an end. In fact, the ending took me off guard, possibly in part because I didn't know it was coming so soon. (The peril of reading a novel that only takes up the first half of a physical book.) I wasn't ready to leave these characters, so it's a good thing that I have another journey to take with them. And maybe I'll get to find out what a "bummel" actually is.

Three Men on the Bummel: Apparently, a bummel just means a ramble or wandering journey. It's German, which sets the tone for the novel, which describes just such a wandering journey through that country. It's the very end of the 19th century, and we get a very interesting view of a united, nearly modern Germany, but before the world wars case a spectre over the country. Nevertheless, Jerome shows us militarism and a predisposition to Fascism that is almost prescient.

As a result, the carefree tone of the first book is utterly gone. The prose is charming, the story itself very much the same as in the original, but the modern reader has different eyes, and mat find it much less humorous as a result.

Nevertheless, I loved it. It gave great insight into life in Europe at the time, during a period that often is overlooked. ( )
  shabacus | Jan 22, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jerome K. Jeromeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harvey, GeoffreyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There were four of us – George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency
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This work contains BOTH Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) AND Three Men on the Bummel.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140437509, Paperback)

When J. the narrator, George, Harris and Montmorency the dog set off on their hilarious misadventures, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather-forecasts, imaginary illnesses, butter pats and tins of pineapple chunks. Denounced as vulgar by the literary establishment, Three Men in a Boat nevertheless caught the spirit of the times. The expansion of education and the increase in office workers created a new mass readership, and Jerome's book was especially popular among the 'clerking classes' who longed to be 'free from that fretful haste, that vehement striving, that is every day becoming more and more the bane of nineteenth-century life.'

So popular did it prove that Jerome reunited his heroes for a bicycle tour of Germany. Despite some sharp, and with hindsight, prophetic observations of the country, Three Men on the Bummel describes an equally picaresque journey constrained only 'by the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started'.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:23 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

'Three Men in a Boat' describes a comic expedition by middle-class Victorians up the Thames to Oxford, and provides snap-shots of London's playground in the late 1880s. 'Three Men on the Bummel' records a similar escapade some ten years later, when the trio cycle through the Black Forest, at the height of the new bicycling craze.… (more)

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