Saturday, 20 January 2001

Jerome K. Jerome: Diary of a Pilgrimage (1891)

Edition: Dent, 1951
Review number: 723

The passion play at Oberammergau is unique, and to many people a journey to see it would be something of a pilgrimage. Such a journey is the subject of this comic novel, very much in the style of Jerome's big success, Three Men in a Boat. The journey is made by rail, and the humour is on such subjects as the obscurity of railway timetables.

It is interesting to compare Diary of a Pilgrimage to Jerome's later Three Men on the Bummel, which is also about a German holiday. The later novel is much more anti-German and intolerant, while Diary of a Pilgrimage is easy going. Neither novel is as funny as Three Men in a Boat; both are more interesting from a social history point of view - answering questions like, how have the things that people find funny changed in the last hundred years, how did the attitude of the British to Germany change in the years leading up to the First World War - than they are humorous today.

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