Thursday, May 7, 2015

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome

Let us have done with vain regrets and longings for the days that never will be ours again. Our work lies in front, not behind us… ~ Jerome K. Jerome
The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow is a collection of short essays by Jerome K. Jerome, who is best known for Three Men in a Boat.

If you are reading this, hopefully you know a bit about my Quest, to read the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. And now you do regardless. It is important to know this, in order to appreciate something Jerome says in the preface: All I can suggest is that when you get tired of reading “the best hundred books,” you may take this up for half an hour. It will be a change.

And that’s exactly what I did, and it was a wonderful change.

This book satisfies square N2 of 2015 Classics Bingo: Short Story Collection. I'm not giving ratings to books that are not part of my Quest, don't ask why, I just decided not to, but if I did, this would get 4 1/2 stars.

What a marvelous book. It is filled with Jerome’s delightful wit as well as his profound wisdom. That is not empty praise. I am quite impressed with Jerome’s worldview, as well as his self-view. His humor is wonderful, but he truly sees the world, and humanity, with insight and understanding.

For a man of heralded talent and acclaim, he doesn’t take himself very seriously. He also apparently doesn’t feel compelled to portray the tortured artist, that is so cliché. If I were a drinking man, I’d love to lift a pint or two with Ole Jerome.

Ya gotta admit, he even has a fun name.


It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do.

I do like cats. They are so unconsciously amusing. There is such a comic dignity about them, such a “How dare you!” “Go away, don’t touch me” sort of air. Now, there is nothing haughty about a dog. They are “Hail, fellow, well met” with every Tom, Dick, or Harry that they come across.

Alexander and Caesar fought for their own ends, but in doing so they put a belt of civilization half round the earth.

Foolish people – when I say “foolish people” in this contemptuous way I mean people who entertain different opinions to mine. If there is one person I do despise more than another, it is the man who does not think exactly the same on all topics as I do…

Speaking of a long lost friend: How pleasant it would be to meet his jovial face again, to clasp his strong hand, and to hear his cheery laugh once more! He owes me 14 shillings, too.

Speaking of the phrase “loved as man never loved before”:  …by the way, it’s really extraordinary what a variety of ways of loving there must be. We all do it as it was never done before. I don’t know how our great-grandchildren will manage. They will have to do it on their heads by their time if they persist in not clashing with any previous method.

“Oh, give me back the good old days of fifty years ago,” has been the cry ever since Adam’s fifty-first birthday.

From all accounts, the world has been getting worse and worse ever since it was created. All I can say is that it must have been a remarkably delightful place when it was first opened to the public, for it is very pleasant even now if you only keep as much as possible in the sunshine and take the reain good-temperedly.

There is no returning on the road of life. The frail bridge of time on which we tread sinks back into eternity at every step we take. The past is gone from us forever. It is gathered in and garnered. It belong to us no more.


  1. I love this book so much :) Planning a re-read soon. So funny. I loved Titmus (was that the name?), the little kitten who swore like a medical student! One of my favourite lines :)

  2. Tittums actually...but very good from memory. You know there is a second volume...Second Thoughts by an Idle Fellow. It's on my TBR.

    1. Ah yes, Tittums. Not sure where I got Titmus from :)

      I didn't know there was a second volume! That's quite exciting! I think I'll be re-reading the first one soon (I keep thinking about it since your post) then try and get the second volume soon.

  3. I've been thinking about which JKJ book to read next. I'm glad to see that this is a fun read! And yes, he probably would have been a very fun person to pass an evening with. :)


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