THREE MEN IN A BOAT - Jerome K. J.
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), published in 1889, is a humorous account by English writer Jerome K. Jerome of a two-week boating holiday on the Thames from Kingston upon the Thames to Oxford and back to Kingston. The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history along the route, but the humorous elements took over to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages seem a distraction to the comic novel. One of the most praised things about Three Men in a Boat is how undated it appears to modern readers – the jokes have been praised as fresh and witty.
The three men are based on Jerome himself (the narrator Jerome K. Jerome) and two real-life friends, George Wingrave (who would become a senior manager at Barclays Bank) and Carl Hentschel (the founder of a London printing business, called Harris in the book), with whom Jerome often took boating trips. The dog, Montmorency, is entirely fictional but, “as Jerome admits, developed out of that area of inner consciousness which, in all Englishmen, contains an element of the dog”. The trip is a typical boating holiday of the time in a Thames camping skiff This was just after commercial boat traffic on the Upper Thames had died out, replaced by the 1880s craze for boating as a leisure activity.
The story begins by introducing George, Harris, Jerome (always referred to as “J.”), and Jerome’s dog, named Montmorency. The men are spending an evening in J.’s room, smoking and discussing illnesses from which they fancy they suffer. They conclude that they are all suffering from “overwork”, and need a holiday. A stay in the country and a sea trip are both considered. The country star is rejected because Harris claims that it would be dull, the sea-trip after J. describes bad experiences of his brother-in-law and a friend on sea trips. The three eventually decide on a boating holiday up the River Thames, from Kingston upon the Thames to Oxford, during which they will camp, notwithstanding more of J.’s anecdotes about previous mishaps with tents and camping stoves.