Jerome K. Jerome – Three Men In A Boat


“The river – with the sunlight flashing from its dancing wavelets, gilding gold the grey-green beech-trunks, glinting through the dark, cool wood paths, chasing shadows o’er the shallows, flinging diamonds from the mill-wheels, throwing kisses to the lilies, wantoning with the weirs’ white waters, silvering moss-grown walls and bridges, brightening every tiny townlet, making sweet each lane and meadow, lying tangled in the rushes, peeping, laughing, from each inlet, gleaming gay on many a far sail, making soft the air with glory – is a golden fairy stream.”

Having delved into some of the worst excesses of the era, I was slightly wary of the light upper-middle-class whimsy of Three Men In A Boat. Who were these jolly toffs larking around on the river when the masses were living in such misery? and so on. But of course I warmed to it right away, the whimsy being undercut by passages of palpable awe at the natural world, and the jokes still funny (or if not actually ROFL, their humour was at least not lost in the mists of time.)

Not sure I would actually rate it as great literature, but it’s at least a good read.

Three Men In A Boat
Three Men In A Boat (full text)
Three Men In A Boat (audiobook at librivox)


One thought on “Jerome K. Jerome – Three Men In A Boat”

  1. You may enjoy this BBC recording of Jeremy Nicholas reading Three Men in a Boat from 1984. It pops up for streaming from time to time and can be found elsewhere.

    Always one of my favourite books as a kid I love this because the main characters are such self-interested buffoons.

    In a similar vein of humour, and equal in its enduring quality, is the Diary of a Nobody by George and Wheedon Grosmith from 1892, which has a similar enduring quality. It has to be said bough that as a series of humorous vingenttes Fromm punch the later chapters sort of trail off, but the early one are a brilliant satire on middle class life.

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