Logo: The Walrus and the Carpenter, from the illustrations to Lewis Carroll's "Alice Through the Looking-Glass", 1872
Image: short stories, novels, adventure
Now available in the US and UK: ISBN 0954840178
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This unique, great-value edition contains 14 full length works by the English humorist Jerome K Jerome. Includes the complete text of: Three Men in a Boat, Three Men on the Bummel, Diary of a Pilgrimage, Novel Notes, Paul Kelver, Tommy and Co, They and I, All Roads Lead to Calvary, Idle Ideas in 1905, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, The Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, Tea-Table Talk, Told after Supper, and The Passing of the Third Floor Back. A must for any fan of Jerome K Jerome's original and witty writing!
Its absolute must for those who appreciate cynical humour and sarcastic wit. Jerome K. Jerome's comical writing is at its best when describing the most simplest of events and keeps the reader completely engrossed until he has finished.
Here's a perfect example of Jerome's witty writing wherein he describes one of his books in its preface
"One or two friends to whom I showed these papers in MS having observed that they were not half bad, and some of my relations having promised to buy the book if it ever came out, I feel I have no right to longer delay its issue. But for this, as one may say, public demand, I perhaps should not have ventured to offer these mere "idle thoughts" of mine as mental food for the English-speaking peoples of the earth. What readers ask nowadays in a book is that it should improve, instruct, and elevate. This book wouldn't elevate a cow. I cannot conscientiously recommend it for any useful purposes whatever. All I can suggest is that when you get tired of reading "the best hundred books," you may take this up for half an hour. It will be a change."
Scroll down this page and you will see further examples of how he can change unfortunate events into humorous ones, by adding a dash of his sarcastic wit.
I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into some fearful, devastating scourge, I know and, before I had glanced half down the list of "premonitory symptoms," it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.
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? After a while, however, less grasping feelings prevailed. I reflected that I had every other known malady in the pharmacology, and I grew less selfish, and determined to do without housemaid's knee. Gout, in its most malignant stage, it would appear, had seized me without my being aware of it; and zymosis I had evidently been suffering with from boyhood. There were no more diseases after zymosis, so I concluded there was nothing else the matter with me.
I objected to the sea trip strongly. A sea trip does you good when you are going to have a couple of months of it, but, for a week, it is wicked.
You start on Monday with the idea implanted in your bosom that you are going to enjoy yourself. You wave an airy adieu to the boys on shore, light your biggest pipe, and swagger about the deck as if you were Captain Cook, Sir Francis Drake and Christopher Columbus all rolled into one. On Tuesday, you wish you hadn't come. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, you wish you were dead. On Saturday, you are able to swallow a little beef tea, and to sit up on deck, and answer with a wan, sweet smile when kind-hearted people ask you how you feel now. On Sunday, you begin to walk about again, and take solid food. And on Monday morning, as, with your bag and umbrella in your hand, you stand by the gunwale, waiting to step ashore, you begin to thoroughly like it.
Montmorency hailed this compromise with much approval. He does not revel in romantic solitude. Give him something noisy; and if a trifle low, so much the jollier. To look at Montmorency you would imagine that he was an angel sent upon the earth, for some reason withheld from mankind, in the shape of a small fox-terrier. There is a sort of Oh-what-awicked-world-this-is-and-how-I-wish-I-could-do-somethingto-make-it-better-and-nobler expression about Montmorency that has been known to bring the tears into the eyes of pious old ladies and gentlemen.
When first he came to live at my expense, I never thought I should be able to get him to stop long. I used to sit down and look at him, as he sat on the rug and looked up at me, and think: "Oh, that dog will never live. He will be snatched up to the bright skies in a chariot, that is what will happen to him." But, when I had paid for about a dozen chickens that he had killed; and had dragged him, growling and kicking, by the scruff of his neck, out of a hundred and fourteen street fights; and had had a dead cat brought round for my inspection by an irate female, who called me a murderer; and had been summoned by the man next door but one for having a ferocious dog, at large, that had kept him pinned up in his own tool-shed, afraid to venture his nose outside the door for over two hours on a cold night; and had learned that the gardener, unknown to myself, had won thirty shillings by backing him to kill rats against time, then I began to think that maybe they'd let him remain on earth for a bit longer, after all.
To hang about a stable, and collect a gang of the most disreputable dogs to be found in the town, and lead them out to march round the slums to fight other disreputable dogs, is Montmorency's idea of "life"; and so, as I before observed, he gave to the suggestion of inns, and pubs, and hotels his most emphatic approbation.
I do think that of all the silly, irritating tomfoolishness by which we are plagued, this "weather-forecast" fraud is about the most aggravating. It "forecasts" precisely what happened yesterday or a the day before, and precisely the opposite of what is going to happen to-day.
I remember a holiday of mine being completely ruined one late autumn by our paying attention to the weather report of the local newspaper. "Heavy showers, with thunderstorms, may be expected to-day," it would say on Monday, and so we would give up our picnic, and stop indoors all day, waiting for the rain. And people would pass the house, going off in wagonettes and coaches as jolly and merry as could be, the sun shining out, and not a cloud to be seen.
"Ah!" we said, as we stood looking out at them through the window, "won't they come home soaked!" And we chuckled to think how wet they were going to get, and came back and stirred the fire, and got our books, and arranged our specimens of seaweed and cockle shells. By twelve o'clock, with the sun pouring into the room, the heat became quite oppressive, and we wondered when those heavy showers and occasional thunderstorms were going to begin. "Ah! They'll come in the afternoon, you'll find," we said to each other. "Oh, WON'T those people get wet. What a lark!"
At one o'clock, the landlady would come in to ask if we weren't going out, as it seemed such a lovely day. "No, no," we replied, with a knowing chuckle, "not we. WE don't mean to get wet no, no." And when the afternoon was nearly gone, and still there was no sign of rain, we tried to cheer ourselves up with the idea that it would come down all at once, just as the people had started for home, and were out of the reach of any shelter, and that they would thus get more drenched than ever. But not a drop ever fell, and it finished a grand day, and a lovely night after it.
The next morning we would read that it was going to be a "warm, fine to set-fair day; much heat," and we would dress ourselves in flimsy things, and go out, and, half an hour after we had started, it would commence to rain hard, and a bitterly cold wind would spring up, and both would keep on steadily for the whole day, and we would come home with colds and rheumatism all over us, and go to bed.
There was a boy at our school; we used to call him Sandford and Merton. His real name was Stivvings. He was the most extraordinary lad I ever came across. I believe he really liked study. He used to get into awful rows for sitting up in bed and reading Greek; and as for French irregular verbs, there was simply no keeping him away from them. He was full of weird and unnatural notions about being a credit to his parents and an honour to the school; and he yearned to win prizes, and grow up and be a clever man, and had all those sorts of weakminded ideas. I never knew such a strange creature, yet harmless, mind you, as the babe unborn.
Well, that boy used to get ill about twice a week, so that he couldn't go to school. There never was such a boy to get ill as that Sandford and Merton. If there was any known disease going within ten miles of him, he had it, and had it badly. He would take bronchitis in the dog-days, and have hay-fever at Christmas. After a six weeks' period of drought, he would be stricken down with rheumatic fever; and he would go out in a November fog and come home with a sunstroke. They put him under laughing-gas one year, poor lad, and drew all his teeth, and gave him a false set, because he suffered so terribly with toothache; and then it turned to neuralgia and ear-ache. He was never without a cold, except once for nine weeks while he had scarlet fever; and he always had chilblains. During the great cholera scare of 1871, our neighbourhood was singularly free from it. There was only one reputed case in the whole parish: that case was young Stivvings. He had to stop in bed when he was ill, and eat chicken and custards and hot-house grapes; and he would lie there and sob, because they wouldn't let him do Latin exercises, and took his German grammar away from him.
And we other boys, who would have sacrificed ten terms of our school-life for the sake of being ill for a day, and had no desire whatever to give our parents any excuse for being stuck-up about us, couldn't catch so much as a stiff neck. We fooled about in draughts, and it did us good, and freshened us up; and we took things to make us sick, and they made us fat, and gave us an appetite. Nothing we could think of seemed to make us ill until the holidays began. Then, on the breaking-up day, we caught colds, and whooping cough, and all kinds of disorders, which lasted till the term recommenced; when, in spite of everything we could manoeuvre to the contrary, we would get suddenly well again, and be better than ever.
Such is life; and we are but as grass that is cut down, and put into the oven and baked.
Rather an amusing thing happened while dressing that morning. I was very cold when I got back into the boat, and, in my hurry to get my shirt on, I accidentally jerked it into the water. It made me awfully wild, especially as George burst out laughing. I could not see anything to laugh at, and I told George so, and he only laughed the more. I never saw a man laugh so much. I quite lost my temper with him at last, and I pointed out to him what a drivelling maniac of an imbecile idiot he was; but he only roared the louder. And then, just as I was landing the shirt, I noticed that it was not my shirt at all, but George's, which I had mistaken for mine; whereupon the humour of the thing struck me for the first time, and I began to laugh. And the more I looked from George's wet shirt to George, roaring with laughter, the more I was amused, and I laughed so much that I had to let the shirt fall back into the water again.
"Ar'n't you you going to get it out?" said George, between his shrieks.
I could not answer him at all for a while, I was laughing so, but, at last, between my peals I managed to jerk out:
"It isn't my shirt it's YOURS!"
I never saw a man's face change from lively to severe so suddenly in all my life before.
"What!" he yelled, springing up. "You silly cuckoo! Why can't you be more careful what you're doing? Why the deuce don't you go and dress on the bank? You're not fit to be in a boat, you're not. Gimme the hitcher."
I tried to make him see the fun of the thing, but he could not. George is very dense at seeing a joke sometimes.
"My daughter Veronica has given me to understand," I said, "that if I buy her this donkey it will be, for her, the commencement of a new and better life. I do not attach undue importance to the bargain, but one never knows. The influences that make for reformation in human character are subtle and unexpected. Anyhow, it doesn't seem right to throw a chance away. Added to which, it has occurred to me that a donkey might be useful in the garden."
"He has lived at my expense for upwards of two years," replied St. Leonard. "I cannot myself see any moral improvement he has brought into my family. What effect he may have upon your children, I cannot say. But when you talk about his being useful in a garden "
"He draws a cart," interrupted Miss Janie.
"So long as someone walks beside him feeding him with carrots. We tried fixing the carrot on a pole six inches beyond his reach. That works all right in the picture: it starts this donkey kicking."
"You know yourself," he continued with growing indignation, "the very last time your mother took him out she used up all her carrots getting there, with the result that he and the cart had to be hauled home behind a trolley."
Jerome K. Jerome was the fourth child of Jerome Clapp Jerome, a lay preacher and architect who died when Jerome was fourteen. Inspite of being well off in his profession Jerome senior tried mining on his land. Things started going wrong for him when he started his mining venture and took a turn for worse when he became a partner in an iron works and later delved into coal mining. Being born in such an unfortunate background, we can feel the influence of these fascinating experiences of his life on his writings.
Born on 2 May 1859 in Belsize House, Bradford Street, Walsall, Staffordshire, England Jerome K. Jerome was given the middle name in honour of a family friend, Hungarian exile and hero George Klapka.
London and North Western Railway was his first job amongst a number of occupations which included journalism and school teaching. After his mothers death, he became involved with a stage company which he described as 'the life whose glorious uncertainty almost rivals that of the turf.' Jerome adopted the name of Harold Crichton to make his professional debut as a stage actor.
He wrote numerous short stories and plays but all of them were rejected. 'On the Stage - and Off, The Brief Career of a Would-Be Actor', (inspired by one of Longfellow's poems from 'By the Fireside') was his first well known writing which was based on his experiences as an actor. Even this was rejected by many publications, until Aylmer Gowing a retired actor, who edited The Play, realised its worth. This began his literary journey which included; The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow; Three Men In A Boat; The Diary of a Pilgrimage (a trip to Oberammergau to see the Passion Play); Paul Kelver; Three Men on the Bummel; amongst many others.
He wrote his slapstick tale of a riverboat trip up the Thames, Three Men in a Boat, subtitle to say nothing of the dog in 1889. The story was inspired by his honeymoon and based on himself and two real-life friends, George Wingrave, whom he'd met while a clerk, and Carl Hentschel whom he'd met through the theatre.
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