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Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K.…

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886)

by Jerome K. Jerome

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The predecessor to the author's 'Three Men in a Boat', this is a collection of Jerome's humorous journalism from the years immediately before that book. These pieces are not laugh-out-loud funny; and indeed, such have our lives and reading tastes changed, some will find them long-winded, circumlocutory and possibly even tedious. And the world they describe, the world that Jerome moved in, is now gone. But if you are in any way appreciative of nineteenth-century London, or want to get a good idea of what occupied the middle classes in those times, this book is perfect.

Interestingly, the author's voice in these essays was echoed in later years by P.G. Wodehouse; some of the idle musings he puts into the mouth of Bertie Wooster are straight out of the same mould as cast these gems of Jerome's. And just when you think that there's nothing at all substantial about any of this, you suddenly get hit between the eyes by the bitter reality of 'On being Hard Up', or realise that so often - mainly in 'On Memory', but also at intervals throughout the book, Jerome talks of people who have passed away and we realise that the rate of mortality, especially amongst children, was appallingly high compared to our own time.

But just to show that all is not doom and gloom, Montmorency the dog gets namechecked. And there is much to please throughout the volume.

My copy was the UK Snowbooks 2004 edition, a charming little volume in square hardback format with a "contemporary afterword" by a modern London dandy and flaneur. ( )
2 vote RobertDay | Aug 25, 2016 |
I absolutely ADORE this man. He would be mine all mine had I been born way back when. JKJ is a woefully underrated writer, in my estimation. He is so funny, so astute, so thoughtful, and so charming! He's easily as clever and observant as Oscar Wilde but without the sneer. (Don't get me wrong, I love Wilde's sneering.) This short book is not as laugh-out-loud funny as Three Men in a Boat but I think it's not meant to be. It's a collection of musings, often funny, sometimes philosophical, and sometimes downright poetic on all sorts of topics that touch every human being alive or previously so. It's wonderful.

"It is in our faults and failings, not in our virtues, that we touch one another and find sympathy." ( )
1 vote libbromus | Dec 1, 2015 |
There's something oddly satisfying about this book. Calming, interesting and humorous all at once. Two of these adjectives are not ones I tend to seek out in a book very often, but this man made it happen. High five, JKJ!

"The world must be rather a rough place for clever people. Ordinary folk dislike them, and as for themselves, they hate each other most cordially." ( )
  Melissarochell | Jul 20, 2013 |
Monday afternoons are most favorable to practice the art of idling. The anxiety of a fresh work week prevails over the dormancy of deadlines and you are back on detoxification diet after a carb loaded Sunday. On one such afternoons amid my momentary sniffing of liquid black ink( the one that fills the belly of a fountain pen), I hear a deafening sound enough to crack the inner chords of my ears. As I look up from my sniffing activity, I observe a recognizable obnoxious face of a dear friend who also acts as my local bookworm.

“Have you heard of Jerome K Jerome “, she says overlooking my disdain.
“Is he your fuck mate?” I ask, trying to outwit with my sarcasm.
You lightheaded bitch!, she shows displeasure. “He is the one who wrote Three Men in a Boat”.
Laughter overcomes me as I tell her my awareness of the author stating that he is one of the funniest men in English literature.
As she takes a mouthful of my salad, “Read this book. It is quite interesting”, she urges while masticating on the lettuce. “Jerome writes that although this book might be a good change in between reading “the best 100 books ever”, it wouldn’t even elevate a cow. But, I think it might elevate you”.
As she squanders away to my relief, I sit at my desk torn between the desire to resume ink inhalation or read a book by one of my favourite author.

Idling can be a joy if it is masked in the aura of procrastination. Lethargy is an entirely different concept as it is accompanied by comatose temporal lobe. So, I concur with my dear friend Jerome, when he states that in the world of slow-coaches and indolent people, a true idler is a rarity. A lazy person can sit on a park bench for hours and would care the least even if his butt falls asleep while staring expressionlessly at the birds. On the other hand, an idler for a gem of a person that he is, counts the pigeons in the park, browses the newspaper and exhibits characteristic facial expressions indicating his choc-a bloc schedule. Jerome infers idleness is as sweet as stolen kisses. Idle thoughts on the other hand, can weave an intriguing web of frivolous words and rational sentences. An imposed idleness can relay a series of thoughts, wondering why isn’t the life-cycle of a mosquito applicable to certain neighbors when they share the same blood-sucking attributes of the insect. Your mind debates the legitimacy of Darwin’s claim of man being evolved from apes, when you can clearly see the physical similarities and behavioral patterns between a walrus and one of you elder uncles at a family reunion. If we could identify with the baby talk, would all the “goo-goo-ga-ga” spell out Stewie Griffin’s verbal diarrhea? As you idle away work responsibilities, flinging pebbles in the nearby pond, the simultaneous ripples in the water brings a plethora of dystopian phrases that you might scribble away. Pigeons are devilish birds and so are seagulls. They secretly hate me like my exes. They stare at me and then maul me for a bag of cookies. Cats are smarter than dogs. An individual is the most compassionate and cheerful when he is fed. It is funny how a hungry stomach lustfully adores a plate full of gastronomic delicacies. Hunger is a luxury for those well-fed, as myself. Melancholy is like a glob of butter on toasts. It is detrimental to health, but without it life would be as flavorless as a stale oat. Vanity is not an honorary title solely bestowed on Simon Cowell. Everyone is vain. Take pride in it, just like my aunt whose bedroom lifestyle can put a praying mantis to shame (so claims my uncle, marvel at him being still hale and hearty), flutters like a butterfly at a cosmetic counter even though she appears to be a victim of a reversed metamorphosis. Jerome inscribes that memory is a rare ghost-raiser. Like a haunted house, its walls are ever echoing to unseen feet. Through the broken casements we watch the flitting shadows of the dead, and the saddest shadows of them all are the shadows of our own dead selves. Self- imposed amnesia is the best cure. That is what my cousin prescribes to when she runs into one of her ex-husbands while on a shopping spree.

Jerome is not at his sarcastic best. He is sick, you see. But, he does not disappoint at all. With the help of his dearest companion – the pipe, his drugged temporal lobe leisurely grabs every thought that runs through his mind contemplating from animal attitudes to love, furnishing apartments, babies, food and merriment of the time gone by. The text comprising of 14 varied essays, are rich with the humorous undertones on frolicsome anecdotes filtering into a theoretical finesse.

I am alone and the road is very dark. I stumble on, I know not how nor care, for the way seems leading nowhere, and there is no light to guide. But at last the morning comes, and I find that I have grown into myself.

As the alarm once again nearly ruptures my ear drums, it is 4’oclock in the evening and as I erase the defined whorls off my cheek printed by the ink stained thumb, a thought lingers asserting that my friend was precise of this book elevating me. Moo!!!!!

( )
  Praj05 | Apr 5, 2013 |
Mental meandering ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jerome K. Jeromeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Omboni, IdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the very dear and well-beloved friend of my prosperous and evil days—
To the friend who, though in the early stages of our acquaintanceship did ofttimes disagree with me, has since become to be my very warmest comrade—
To the friend who, however often I may put him out, never (now) upsets me in revenge—
To the friend who, marked with coolness by all the female members of my household, and regarded with suspicion by my very dog, nevertheless seems day by day to be more drawn by me, and in return to more and more impregnate me with the odor of his friendship—
To the friend who never tells me of my faults, never wants to borrow money, and never talks about himself—
To the companion of my idle hours, the soother of my sorrows, the confidant of my joys and hopes—
My oldest and strongest pipe, this little volume is gratefully and affectionately dedicated.
First words
On Being Idle: Now, this is a subject on which I flatter myself I really am au fait.
Idling always has been my strong point. I take no credit to myself in the matter--it is a gift.
Love is too pure a light to burn long among the noisome gases that we breathe
Chivalry is not dead: it only sleeps for want of work to do. It is you [women] who must wake it to noble deeds. You must be worthy of knightly worship.
When things go wrong at 10 o'clock in the morning we--or rather you--swear and knock the furniture about; but if the misfortune comes at 10 p.m., we read poetry or sit in the dark and think what a hollow world this is.
There is no pathos in real misery: no luxury in real grief.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0862990092, Paperback)

A collection of Jerome K. Jerome's humorous essays, including "On Being Hard Up" and "On Being in the Blues."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:18 -0400)

English essays.Published in 1886 and dedicated to the writer's ally in idling-his pipe-this collection of entertaining essays established Jerome K. Jerome as an eminent English wit. "What readers ask nowadays in a book is that it should improve, instruct, and elevate. This book wouldn't elevate a cow. I cannot conscientiously recommend it for any useful purposes whatever. All I can suggest is that when you get tired of reading ?e best hundred books,' you may take this up for half an hour. It will be a change." Here are his idle and amusing thoughts on all aspects of life-from love to poverty, vanity to ambition, babies to cats and dogs-and, of course, on the pleasures of spending one's time idling.Humour collections & anthologies.… (more)

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