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

give an accountof the background in which the three friend decided to undertake trip in boat

men spending evening in jerome room

discussing illness

holiday was planned

initially sea trip was rejected, eventually a boating holiday was decided

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narrator, J., is smoking in his room with his friends, George and William Samuel Harris, and his dog Montmorency. The men, all hypochondriacs, are chatting about their latest illnesses, each man certain that he is in danger of death or serious disease.

In a flashback, J. recollects how he once went to the British Museum to research a treatment for his hay fever, and after reading about diseases, convinced himself that he was suffering from every illness known to man except for housemaid’s knee. J.’s doctor, clearly recognizing the man's paranoia, prescribed him beefsteak, beer, walking, and good sleep habits, and urged him not to “stuff up your head with things you don’t understand” (10).

J. still believes that he suffers from every disease, but he is especially concerned about his ‘liver condition’ – the main symptom of which is “a general disinclination to work of any kind” (10).

The friends decide that taking a vacation together would restore their health, and debate locations for a week-long excursion. J. suggests a rural, old-world spot, but Harris wishes to avoid remote locations and counters with the suggestion of a sea cruise. J. vetoes that idea because one week is not enough time to overcome seasickness and actually enjoy the trip. He notes to the reader that no one admits to being seasick on land, but that many people have trouble with it when actually on a ship. George suggests taking a boat trip down the Thames, an idea that everyone approves. Though J. worries that Montmorency will get bored in the boat, they decide to bring him along anyway.The men begin to make plans for their boat trip. George and J. want to camp along the river, believing that sleeping outside will offer a true escape from the city. J. writes sentimentally and poetically about the beauty and power of nature.

However, Harris points out that camping would be unpleasant if it rains, so they decide to camp on nights with good weather and sleep in inns when the weather is poor. J. believes Montmorency will prefer hotels because they offer more excitement and stables that the dog can run around in. J. explains to the reader that Montmorency’s adorable appearance endears him to everyone who meets him, but he is actually a hyperactive troublemaker.

The men leave for a pub, to further discuss arrangements for the trip.