“A ‘Bummel’,” I explained, “I should describe as a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started…… But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand…… We have been much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when ’tis over.”
This closing passage sums up my precise sentiments for this book. The book primarily deals with distinctive and entertaining experiences of three friends (Jerome, Harris and George), while on a cycling tour throughout Germany. Often when you read a sequel after the parent book, one cannot help but to evaluate the two. Overlooking my resistance to do so, I have to disclose that this book fails to capture the enchantment and exuberance of ‘Three Men in a Boat’. Nevertheless, it should not be dismissed easily!
While the opening sections are a bit loose and floppy; in time the narrative does gathers the lost spark with the onset of the bicycle tour. And, then it’s a vortex of humor and satire that swoops the reader into the perils of touring a foreign land. The comical vignettes slowly fabricate into a satirical euphoria that Jerome is known to produce. Several comical confrontations between George and Jerome bring back the lost smile and cheer. One such episode needs a mention:-
George:-“Why, in Germany, is it the custom to put the letter-box up a tree? Why do they not fix it to the front door as we do? I should hate having to climb up a tree to get my letters. Besides, it is not fair to the postman. In addition to being most exhausting, the delivery of letters must to a heavy man, on windy nights, be positively dangerous work.”
(Jerome): “I followed his gaze out of window.’ I said,
Jerome:-“Those are not letter-boxes, they are birds’ nests. You must understand this nation. The German loves birds, but he likes tidy birds.”
The subtle glee shown in the exploration of a new land by three outsiders and numerous other similar anecdotes keeps you glued and entertained till the end.
‘Three Men on a Bummel’ is firmly not an afterthought of ‘Three Men in a Boat’. It is an entirely new adventure pertaining to exploring a fresh and astonishing land. Hence it should be viewed in singular light to make the reading plausible.