Tuesday, September 27, 2011

P. G. Wodehouse and Jerome K. Jerome

After reading through some book reviews on Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men In A Boat (to say nothing of the dog), I decided at long last to pick up the title in question and actually read it. (And yes, my actions are 'validated' by reports I read that most people read books recommended to them by the Internet). I'm not sure how, but I associated Three Men In A Boat with P. G. Wodehouse's Three Men And A Maid (UK Title: The Girl on the Boat). I think it was the words "Three Men". Well, thanks to this illogical association, I more or less decided to read the books one after another (or as continuously as possible, seeing how as it's exam period that leaves me with little precious time for reading).

After reading, I was once again awed by my lack of knowledge about the world of books. Both authors are funny, but at times, poignant (but that could be just me over-reading).

The similarities between the books? Well, seeing as it was illogical, it had about 3 similarities with each other:

1. There are Three Men
2. They are not related to each other
3. There is a dog

And that's about it. If you want to read a good review of Three Men in a Boat, I'd suggest going to Corey P.'s review at intothebook.net here. All I will add about the book is that it's a well-written, humorous travelogue that incidentally magnifies the daily habits of people, thus rendering them absurd (whew, that was a mouthful. And well, I've been doing a lot of literature essays, hence the strange writing).

As for Three Men and a Maid, well, the plot is as different from Three Men in a Boat as possible. For one, it's a comedic romance (if it was in cinemas, it would no doubt be billed as a 'rom-com'). And honestly, the book only focuses on two men (our protagonist-narrator and his cousin). The third guy comes in as a sap who doesn't get the girl (the protagonist gets that. Oops, spoiler). And, Oh! there's a fourth similarity:

4. A boat is involved

Yes, so you can see, a boat is involved. But for Three Men in a Boat, it's there throughout the whole book (I know, you can see that from the title). But it's not so much in Three Men and a Maid, since the boat's just a way of transport for them

Seriously speaking though, this two books have taught me a quite unrelated lesson. And that is, never think that you have read all there is (even if you're talking about the classics). There are so many underrated classic authors (G. K. Chesterton springs to mind), that it's always possible to find something from a little throwaway comment in a book. And there's also a very good probability (which I refuse to calculate since my statistics paper ended today), that it might be exactly to your taste. I found out that these books are the perfect humour books that I've been looking for.

Let me elaborate, my English (i.e. Literature) class has a good (some say weird) sense of humour, such as making Shakespearean jokes based on King Lear, or making jokes with Robert Frost (using a quote to quip about a poem). Hence, not many books have such specialised sense of humour (because only the very wacky few can get it, I mean, who wants or has a brain full of trivia other than HL3? So to find something like this, where the humour feels like how we talk in class (apart from dated slang), is serendipitous(:

Ok, I should stop before I use too many words whose meaning I'm not sure of.

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