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sábado, 3 de enero de 2015

Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome

Rating: 
18/02/14


Okay. Right from the beginning, it is a hilarious thing to read. This book was written in 1889, and it is still too funny. According to what I read, at first, it was going to be a travel guide, but that got lost among the humorous anecdotes that took over the whole book. I thank you, Jerome, for that.

Anyway, every paragraph is filled with amusing lines; not stupid funny, but witty funny. The thoughts of these hypochondriacs are written in such a way that you are entertained all the way through. Who never experienced "a general disinclination to work of any kind" ? Poor boy, he wasn't lazy, it was his liver!

So, three men (with a dog) started talking about how ill they were, almost like a contest on who was in the worst shape ever. And then, Jerome said his liver was out of order. Without visiting any doctor, he affirmed that his liver was out of order. How did he know that? Because he read a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed all the symptoms. And that single thing was my first hypochondriacal (is that a word?) laugh. I mean, don't most people do that? They feel unwell so they start looking for information, and suddenly they're writing a will because they KNOW it's their last week on earth. Then, if they have any time left, they visit the doctor. So, Jerome read that circular, and on another opportunity, went to the British Museam with the single purpose of reading about diseases (now there's Wikipedia).

Well, after all this chatting and feeling sorry for themselves, they arrived to the conclusion that all those maladies were caused by overwork. That's why they decided to take a boating holiday. While describing the trip, the author shared a lot of hilarious anecdotes. And I mean, a lot.

The one thing I did not like that much is the fact that this story seems to be told by a weird creature I named "Seinlet": there can be a funny paragraph narrated by a hilarious Seinfeld and the next one can be so dramatic like a dying Hamlet. It is an abrupt change and I was a bit lost. Jerome’s funny writing and the poetic writing are really good, if they're far, far away from each other, like in different books or something... Otherwise, it can be confusing. At least, it was for me.

"I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever - read the symptoms - discovered that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for months without knowing it - wondered what else I had got; turned up St. Vitus's Dance - found, as I expected, that I had that too, - began to get interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically - read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another fortnight. Bright's disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a modified form, and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. Cholera I had, with severe complications; and diphtheria I seemed to have been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twenty-six letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was housemaid's knee.
I felt rather hurt about this at first; it seemed somehow to be a sort of slight. Why hadn't I got housemaid's knee? Why this invidious reservation?"

"From the dim woods on either bank, Night's ghostly army, the grey shadows, creep out with noiseless tread to chase away the lingering rear- guard of the light, and pass, with noiseless, unseen feet, above the waving river-grass, and through the sighing rushes; and Night, upon her somber throne, folds her black wings above the darkening world, and, from her phantom palace, lit by the pale stars, reigns in stillness. 

"…we fall asleep beneath the great, still stars, and dream that the world is young again - young and sweet as she used to be ere the centuries of fret and care had furrowed her fair face, ere her children's sins and follies had made old her loving heart - sweet as she was in those bygone days when, a new-made mother, she nursed us, her children, upon her own deep breast - ere the wiles of painted civilization had lured us away from her fond arms, and the poisoned sneers of artificiality had made us ashamed of the simple life we led with her, and the simple, stately home where mankind was born so many thousands years ago."


"But there, everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses."
I can quote hundreds of passages. My favorite parts are the funny ones, of course. Oh my, how I laughed. I'm out of synonyms for “funny” (I think you noticed that). Jerome, you are a new safe place for me.


This is a solid 4.5-star book.






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