Kathryn will lead this month's discussion. Note that we are meeting one week later than normal due to the Labor Day holiday weekend. New and used copies are readily available. An e-text is available at: http://www.literaturepage.com/read/threemeninaboat.html. Several audiobooks have been released, including a reading by Hugh Laurie in 1998. Two amateur audio readings from Librivox.org are available at: https://catalog.librivox.org/search.php?title=three+men+in+a+boat&author=&status=all&action=Search
Introduction: Jerome Klapka Jerome (born in Caldmore, England, in 1859) was an English writer and humorist, best known for the comic travelogue Three Men in a Boat. He wrote the book as soon as he returned from his honeymoon, which was a boating trip on the Thames. In the novel, his wife was replaced by his longtime friends George Wingrave (George) and Carl Hentschel (Harris). This allowed him to create comic (and non-sentimental) situations which were nonetheless intertwined with the history of the Thames region. The book, published in 1889, became an instant success and is still in print. Its popularity was such that the number of registered Thames boats went up fifty percent in the year following its publication, and it contributed significantly to the Thames becoming a tourist attraction.
In its first twenty years alone, the book sold over a million copies worldwide. It has been adapted to movies, TV and radio shows, stage plays, and even a musical. Its writing style influenced many humorists and satirists in England and elsewhere.
Plot: 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 three men are based on Jerome himself (the narrator J.) and two real-life friends, George Wingrave (who went on to become a senior manager in Barclays Bank) and Carl Hentschel (the founder of a London printing business, called Harris in the book), with whom he often took boating trips. The dog, Montmorency, is entirely fictional but Jerome admits he "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.
Also join us for Movie Night on Friday 9/13.