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Three Men on the Bummel (Penguin Popular Classics) [Paperback]

Jerome K. Jerome
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 July 2007 Penguin Popular Classics

'I did not intend to write a funny book, at first' wrote Jerome J. Jerome of Three Men in a Boat, which has since become a comic classic. When J. the narrator, George, Harris and Montmorency the dog set off on their hilarious misadventures, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather-forecasts, imaginary illnesses, butter pats and tins of pineapple chunks. Denounced as vulgar by the literary establishment, Three Men in a Boat nevertheless caught the spirit of the times. The expansion of education and the increase in office workers created a new mass readership, and Jerome's book was especially popular among the 'clerking classes' who longed to be 'free from that fretful haste, that vehement striving, that is every day becoming more and more the bane of nineteenth-century life.'

So popular did it prove that Jerome reunited his heroes for a bicycle tour of Germany. Despite some sharp, and with hindsight, prophetic observations of the country, Three Men on the Bummel describes an equally picaresque journey constrained only 'by the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started'.


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Three Men on the Bummel (Penguin Popular Classics) + Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Penguin Classics) + The Diary of a Nobody (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (26 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140621458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140621457
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.7 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 677,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Jerome Klapka Jerome (1859–1927) was an English writer and humorist, best known for the humorous travelogue Three Men in a Boat. Jerome was born in Caldmore, Walsall, England, and was brought up in poverty in London. He attended St Marylebone Grammar School. Other works include the essay collections Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow and Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow; Three Men on the Bummel, a sequel to Three Men in a Boat; and several other novels. In 1877, inspired by his older sister Blandina's love for the theatre, Jerome decided to try his hand at acting, under the stage name Harold Crichton. He joined a repertory troupe that produced plays on a shoestring budget, often drawing on the actors' own meagre resources – Jerome was penniless at the time – to purchase costumes and props. After three years on the road and with no evident success, the 21-year-old Jerome decided he had had enough with stage life, and sought other occupations. He tried to become a journalist, writing essays, satires and short stories, but most of these were rejected. Over the next few years he was a school teacher, a packer, and a solicitor's clerk. Finally, in 1885, he had some success with On the Stage — and Off, a comic memoir of his experiences with the acting troupe. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, a collection of humorous essays, followed in 1886 (see 1885 and 1886 in literature). On 21 June 1888, Jerome married Georgina Elizabeth Henrietta Stanley Marris (a.k.a. Ettie), nine days after she had divorced her first husband. She had a daughter from her previous, five-year marriage, nicknamed Elsie (her actual name was also Georgina). The honeymoon took place on the Thames "in a little boat," a fact which was to have a significant influence on his next, and most important work, Three Men in a Boat. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But is it as funny? 6 July 2000
Format:Paperback
Three Men on the Bummel is a far less well known book than its big brother, the celebrated and beloved classic Three Men in a Boat. Several years have elapsed between novels - indeed to those of us who know and love George, Harris and J it is somewhat startling to find J and Harris married with children. But domestic bliss is starting to cloy, and as the men develop ploys to escape for a holiday, both wives are seen to be extremely "modern" women! Suffice it to say that a cycling tour in the Black Forrest ensues. Jerome's constant observations of the Germans are disconcerting; yes, he writes amusingly of them as lovable eccentrics, obsessed by order and orders, but he was not to know to what hiddeous effect this contributed to in 1939-45, and the shadow of the War was often in my mind. But is the book as funny? I have to answer "yes." Harris and the hosepipe, George's spree of crime, the phrase book outing, all are as funny as anything in the original. Uncle Podger stories are still there, and I laughed out loud many, many times. A gem of a book. Oh, what's a bummel? Read and find out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More for interest than enjoyment... 4 Nov 2012
By Berowne
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'Three Men in a Boat' is one of my favourite books and never fails to make me laugh so I though I ought to read this. I'm glad I did but it is nowhere near as funny as its predecessor. It has occasional moments which are wonderful - a tale of a dog in a restaurant, for example - but what is really fascinating is its picture of Germany in the years immediately before World War I. Jerome clearly likes them but mocks them gently for their degree of organisation. There are a number of places where Jerome's pronouncements seem uncannily prophetic or, conversely, absolutely bizarre given what came later in the century.So worth reading but don't expect to laugh very much.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult not to condemn with faint praise 31 Mar 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
We are used nowadays to authors, film makers etc doing follow ups to cash in on an intitial success. It often proves a mistake and you can't help feeling that here.
Three Men in a Boat is justly famed for its wonderful ironic humour. Three Men on the Bummel starts off in a very promising fashion as the three decide they need a change and make preparations for a cycling tour of the Black Forest. The first few chapters are brilliant but when the three men get to Germany it all seems to tail off. There is actually rather little about cycling through the Black Forest and by the time the final chapters arrive they are not much more than Jerome K. Jerome's views of the Germans with little attempt at humour. The whole idea of the book just seems to run into the sand. Worth reading though just for those first few hilarious chapters.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading...but be warned. 16 July 2002
Format:Paperback
Following that exploits of J., Harris and George as they make they way across Europe on bicycles, this book attempts to capture much of the humour of its predecessor Three Men in a Boat. However, I do feel that this time the humour is more laboured and some of the stories do struggle to be funny. Also absent is the effortless way that he combined beautiful poetic prose with outstandingly funny observations seen in Three Men in a Boat. Rather than being a continuous joy to read, the book tends to only shine every now and then. A good book, and well worth looking at, but I feel that it pales in comparison to Three Men in a Boat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Often funny, but not often enough really. 21 Jun 2013
By Jason Mills VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This sequel to Three Men in a Boat only sporadically achieves the joy of its progenitor. The narrator and his pals George and Harris (he says nothing of the dog) polish up their bicycles and go a-roaming through the Black Forest in Germany. Naturally they get into scrapes and adventures, and these are sometimes very funny. Here, gentle fun is poked at the Germans' horror of stepping on the grass:

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In a German park I have seen a gardener step gingerly with felt boots on to grass-plot, and removing therefrom a beetle, place it gravely but firmly on the gravel; which done, he stood sternly watching the beetle, to see that it did not try to get back on the grass; and the beetle, looking utterly ashamed of itself, walked hurriedly down the gutter, and turned up the path marked "Ausgang."
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But a lot of the time the characters seem mere decorations on a straightforward piece of travel writing, sometimes disappearing for most of a chapter - as for instance when the author describes the German Mensur tradition, in which students evidently competed to scar each other with manly wounds. Well worth discussing, perhaps, but out of place in a comic novel. And sometimes when the humour is present, it doesn't quite come off: for example, a lot of effort is expended in contriving a situation in which three drunkards end up sleeping in each other's houses; but the farcical opportunities are wasted as the episode simply winds up.

It remains a perfectly pleasant book, but it hasn't the modest perfection and warm-hearted charm of the earlier book. It's perhaps most memorable for its weirdly prescient remarks on 'the German character'; in particular:

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In Germany today [pre-WWI] one hears a good deal concerning Socialism, but it is a Socialism that would only be despotism under another name.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy 18 Oct 2011
By Graham R. Hill VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had never bothered to read this because it was generally accepted as not being as good as its predecessor. Now, at least forty years after reading 'Three Men On A Boat' I took advantage of this being free on Kindle, read it, and discovered that it is in fact not as good as its predecessor. That's not to say that there aren't some very funny episodes nor that the more serious elements aren't worth reading either; especially thought provoking is a section on the possible outcomes of what Jerome views as the German habit of over-deferring to authority. Given that they were written in the late 19th century these are almost spookily prescient. However much of the book is repetitive (recapitulated descriptions of being woken early by one's hosts children, riffs on what would happen if animals could talk) and many of the targets are meaningless to modern readers. Does anyone know why watering the roads was such a big deal?

The best chapter is actually the first, containing a spot-on and very amusing explication of marital politics.
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