Stroud & District

27 September 2018

More on Three Men

The meeting on 27 September looked at a number of aspects of the book which seemed to be important. The first was the content, the ‘actual story’. It appears in bursts between a lot of digressions and anecdotes such as the story of Uncle Podger, and the story of the cheese which is now buried safely on a beach. We have gone from the discussion about holidays to renting a camping boat and have reached the point in the narrative when daydreaming J, who is supposed to be steering while Harris rows, manages to crash into the river bank. There are so far only two men and a dog on board. J decides to get out and tow from the towpath while Harris steers.
It is obvious that the structure of the book is a long way from straightforward narrative. There are stretches of travelogue – this is what it is like to have a river holiday in 1888 – and many digressions into the habits of the main characters including Montmorency: one of his best bits is deciding three lemons are rats and he is going to worry them to death.
At the beginning of the meeting John read out a short passage from Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill: ‘the books I had read, knew I owned and realised that I wanted to read again’. After our discussion, when we had understood that the book was not actually as funny as its reputation, though interesting, John reached another page in Susan Hill’s book and found ‘what seemed hilarious can fall flat. I re-read Three Men in a Boat recently and it wasn’t funny at all’.
There is a lot to interest us in the book, including the ‘different world’ aspect, and what still remains with us – we are not sure yet if young men behave the same now as then, though the notion of ‘a bachelor’ has shifted considerably.
We have decided to hold the next two meetings on 18th and 25th October.
The meetings are open to everyone in U3A. If you would like to see what happens, call John or email or just turn up.