About the BookJerome K. Jerome (1859—1927) was an English writer and humorist, best known for the comic travelogue Three Men in a Boat (1889). In its first twenty years alone, the book sold over a million copies worldwide. It has been adapted to movies, TV shows, and stage plays.
Three friends, George, Harris, and Jerome are spending an evening in J.’s room, discussing illnesses they imagine they suffer from. They conclude that they are all suffering from ‘overwork’, and need a holiday. They consider a stay in the country and a sea trip but reject both after J. describes the bad experiences his brother-in-law and a friend had on sea trips. The three decide upon a boating holiday up the River Thames, from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford, during which they will camp, despite Jerome’s anecdotes about previous experiences with tents and camping stoves.
They set off the following Saturday. But on their journey they fail at everything. They are unable to find the right train to take or to their departure point for their boating trip—but then, no railroad official knew the right train either. They bungle the jobs of setting the night shelter, of boiling water for making tea, and make muddied messes of their laundry by washing it in the river silt. They wisely decide to cut their trip short, take the train back to London, have supper, order dinner, entertain themselves, eat again and then they are quite content. Finally, they are out of their maze in which they were standing wondering and waiting, and have found action and decisiveness leading to French cuisine and entertainment.
Maze is the major symbol of the story, with the underlying theme that humans are all too often trapped in inertia by being stuck helplessly in the befuddling maze of life.