Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ending the year with a little bit of Jerome K Jerome

I decided to cap off my 2019 reading by reading Told After Supper by Jerome K Jerome. The only thing I’ve previously read by him is Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), which is one of those classics of the English language that I think everyone should read. This tiny little novella doesn’t rise to the same heights but it does come from the same place.

Boy but the Victorians loved their ghosts stories. If the collections of ghost stories from that era are anything to go by, it was a national mania. And Christmas ghost stories sure seemed to be a big going concern. Dickens sure helped encourage that.

Told After Supper is allegedly the stories and experiences of some men telling ghost stories around the fire on Christmas Eve. Except that it’s really about them drinking so much Christmas punch that they can’t walk in straight line.

It’s not the first sendup of the Victorian Ghost Story I’ve read. Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost at least starts off as one and the criminally underrated John Kendrick Bangs wrote some fun ones. I particularly liked one about having a ghost who made chills go down the spine being asked to stay in as air conditioning. 

Told After Supper has the same rambling style that Three Men has. It has a very conversational tone and seems to go nowhere but it’s a fun journey to that nowhere. It doesn’t feel as timeless as Three Men but I’m glad I found out it existed and I read it.

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