Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

Discuss Jerome's inclusion of stories and anecdotes into his narrative. What purpose do they serve? Fast ...short answer

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Digressions like the Uncle Podger anecdote are what inspired this criticism. However, Jerome’s digressions are not always overtly comedic. Many of the sentimental passages about the beauty of nature are also digressions, and Jerome's criticism of materialistic people has a serious edge as well (26-27). Of course, that passage employs a wry irony even despite its formal, serious language, since the speaker is clearly as materialistic as the people he criticizes. J. briefly breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges this irony when the narrator stops himself and writes: “I beg your pardon really. I quite forgot” (27). In other words, he discovers yet another illusion that he uses for himself. Finally, it is worth noting that the digressive structure gives the novel a stream-of-consciousness style, as though Jerome were constructing it as he went along. While it is possible that this is entirely accurate, it is equally plausible that Jerome means deliberately to explore a variety of approaches and subjects, all with an eye on entertainment. If so, then the style could be more suitably likened to that of a contemporary stand-up comedian than to more 'traditional' Victorian novels.