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"And we sit there, by its margin, while the moon, who loves it too, stoops down to kiss it with a sister’s kiss, and throws her silver arms around it clingingly; and we watch it as it flows, ever singing, ever whispering, out to meet its king, the sea—till our voices die away in silence, and the pipes go out..."
This passage is a prime example of the flowery, serious style that Jerome adopts when he departs from his comic style, which is faster-paced and more concise. In the nineteenth century and today, the novel's critics take issues with its rapid shifting between styles. In some sections, Jerome affects a serious, Romantic style as a parody, rather than in earnest. In other sections, it is unclear whether he is writing this way ironically or sincerely. However, it is known that Jerome initially intended Three Men in a Boat as a serious travelogue, and so these passages might best be understood as remnants from earlier drafts. Either way, the novel's inconsistent style provides both its greatest strengths and weaknesses. Jerome clearly prized myriad approaches over internal consistency.