Friday, April 11, 2014

Jerome K Jerome - Humor writings

J of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

Of the many writers I have admired, Jerome K Jerome (JKJ) is one who has made me nod my head and laugh out really loudly in public places where I might be reading!  While I admit that PG Wodehouse was the king of humor writing, JKJ has also given us books that are downright crazy but utterly believable.

There are two acclaimed books which I particularly enjoyed and have read over and over again – Three Men in a Boat, and Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.  While the first is a splendid travelogue on adventures of three lazy friends and their dog Montmorency who take a boating and camping trip on river Thames, the second is just a series of essays on various topics. 

A few memorable lines from Three Men in a Boat that still make me laugh –

My tooth-brush is a thing that haunts me when I’m travelling, and makes my life a misery.  I dream that I haven’t packed it, and wake up in a cold perspiration, and get out of bed and hunt for it.  And, in the morning, I pack it before I have used it, and have to unpack again to get it, and it is always the last thing I turn out of the bag; and then I repack and forget it, and have to rush upstairs for it at the last moment and carry it to the railway station, wrapped up in my pocket-handkerchief.

 “I like work: it fascinates me.  I can sit and look at it for hours.  I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.

A few quotes however may not do justice if you get a chance to read the various anecdotes narrated in the course of the book and the journey.

The story of Uncle Podger who fixes a painting ‘single-handedly’ after enlisting the help of the whole house, finding lodging at one of the stops, opening a tin of pine-apple, cooking food are all hilarious.

A few quotes from Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow –

On Being in the Blues – “I can enjoy feeling melancholy, and there is a good deal of satisfaction about being thoroughly miserable; but nobody likes a fit of the blues. Nevertheless, everybody has them; notwithstanding which, nobody can tell why. There is no accounting for them. You are just as likely to have one on the day after you have come into a large fortune as on the day after you have left your new silk umbrella in the train. Its effect upon you is somewhat similar to what would probably be produced by a combined attack of toothache, indigestion, and cold in the head. You become stupid, restless, and irritable; rude to strangers and dangerous toward your friends; clumsy, maudlin, and quarrelsome; a nuisance to yourself and everybody about you.”

On Dress  - “They have a wonderful deal to do with courting, clothes have. It is half the battle. At all events, the young man thinks so, and it generally takes him a couple of hours to get himself up for the occasion. His first half-hour is occupied in trying to decide whether to wear his light suit with a cane and drab billycock, or his black tails with a chimney-pot hat and his new umbrella. He is sure to be unfortunate in either decision. If he wears his light suit and takes the stick it comes on to rain, and he reaches the house in a damp and muddy condition and spends the evening trying to hide his boots. If, on the other hand, he decides in favor of the top hat and umbrella—nobody would ever dream of going out in a top hat without an umbrella; it would be like letting baby (bless it!) toddle out without its nurse.”

On Memory – “It seems as though the brightest side of everything were also its highest and best, so that as our little lives sink back behind us into the dark sea of forgetfulness, all that which is the lightest and the most gladsome is the last to sink, and stands above the waters, long in sight, when the angry thoughts and smarting pain are buried deep below the waves and trouble us no more.”

Go ahead and enjoy his books for free from Project Gutenberg!


  1. Those are some wonderful snippets and quotes Richa...Never read his books. May be I should read one of these days

  2. I loved the quotes...never read his books.

  3. I have read an abridged version of "Three Men in a boat " & it was good fun !

  4. Wow....loved the quotes.nice post richa..

  5. That line about work made me laugh out loud.

  6. You had an extract called," The Art of Packing "in your school textbook from the same book.We used to read it together and often had laughing fits.

    1. Yes! That is what introduced me to his books.

  7. My favorite part in Three Men in a Boat is the putting up of a tent when it is raining. I've read the book over a hundred times but I still burst into giggles when that passage comes up.

    And the time when they make the scrambled eggs. Oh it's simply hilarious!

    Thank you for invoking the happy memories. :D

    1. Oh yes! The muddle in setting up the tent is hilarious!

  8. We had Three men in a Boat as study course material in 10th grade. Quite recently I re-read the book. I found it as funny in second reading as I did in the first. Now I must look for the other book. :)