The Magi know
There are only four people.
Spun by wind and wave,
Helpless, says, “Whatever…”
Plays for sympathy. “It’s been
just the worst week of my life.”
Scans the horizon, wanting always
“The next big thing.”
But the Magi
follow the star.
Adjust the sails. Twist the rudder.
The Magi know.
– Indiana Beagle
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)
published in 1889, is a humorous account by Jerome K. Jerome of a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford.
The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide,with accounts of local history along the route, but the humorous elements took over to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages seem a distraction to the comic novel. One of the most praised things about Three Men in a Boat is how undated it appears to modern readers – the jokes seem fresh and witty even today.
The three men are based on Jerome himself and two real-life friends, George Wingrave (who went on to become a senior manager in Barclays Bank) and Carl Hentschel (the founder of a London printing business, called Harris in the book,) with whom he often took boating trips.
The dog, Montmorency, is entirely fictional, but “as Jerome admits, developed out of that area of inner consciousness which, in all Englishmen, contains an element of the dog.”
Because of the overwhelming success of Three Men in a Boat, Jerome later published a sequel, about a cycling tour in Germany, entitled Three Men on the Bummel.