Saturday, October 4, 2008

Three Men in a Boat say nothing of the Dog. I found this at the Rosslyn Farms Community Library. It is so hard to believe it was written in 1889! It is so rich, and wry, and clever, it feels like it was written yesterday! Even the language seems modern. Part of what I liked was hearing what river life was like back then, but I was also fascinated with how people were cut off from nature, even 100 years ago... that's where much of the comedy in this comes from. But what I liked best was imagining all the other people who must have read this -- surely Mark Twain, G.K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw, Groucho Marx, and so many others must have read it, and surely they all chuckled over it, because it is just so elegant, clever, and fun. That is one of the wonderful pleasures of old books, I think -- they become a passage through time, not just to when they were written, but to all the times they were read, and to all the people who read them.

As I read it, I kept wondering, how can he end this in a way that is neither corny nor sneering? I'll tell you how: perfectly.

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