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Three Men on the Bummel: 06/08/21

Three Men on the Bummel

Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome is the sequel to Three Men on a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) (1889). I read the first book because of Connie Willis's time travel homage, To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998). Both of these books I read long before I converted this website into a book blog.

One of the questions the book asks via George is "what is a bummel." It's a German word, fitting for their Schwarzwald visit. While it most loosely means a stroll, it's used here as a "journey there and back again" as Bilbo called his memoir. So that makes me wonder if The Hobbit (1937) is in part a tongue in cheek homage to Jerome K. Jerome's book.

What made the first book funny can't possibly work for the second, save for the introductory chapters. The original book is all about a boat trip up the Thames and the problems that befall them for poor planning and basic dumbfuckery. A book about Englishmen being idiots in England makes the humor self-deferential.

When, however, the setting moves to another country, the jokes become English vs Germans. Or us vs them. Normal vs abnormal. The humor is based on othering the Germans. The so called humor falls flat and makes Jerome and his mates sound like the ponces they probably were.

Three stars

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