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A House-Boat on the Styx

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  165 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The premise of the book is that everyone who's ever died (up to the time of its publication) has gone to Styx, the river that circles the underworld. The book begins with the ferryman Charon being startled & annoyed by the arrival of a houseboat on the Styx. At first afraid that the boat will put him out of business, he later finds out that he is actually to be appoint ...more
Hardcover, Fifteenth Impression, 171 pages
Published 1904 by Harper and Brothers (first published 1895)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Pramod Nair
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, humor, fantasy
After reading Mrs. Raffles a few day back, I was so fascinated by the works of John Kendrick Bangs that I took up some of his other books for reading, and the experience was really rewarding. Despite being one of the most prolific and popular humorists in the late 1800s John Kendrick Bangs is a largely forgotten author these days, yet I found the clever humor that is the signature of his works truly mesmerizing.

A House-Boat on the Styx’ is the third book I have read from the author and it was t
...more
Richard
Wow, I'm amazed and even a tad embarrassed that I have hitherto never reviewed anything by JK Bangs, although I've read several of his works and own a few old editions... I have a hard-bound copy of this book, found in one of those musty "antique" stores that carry lots of dirt-encrusted household junk and by the way in the back have a shelf with a few moldy books that mostly lived in dark, damp, smoke-filled drawing rooms for decades...

I read this some years ago, so it's not very fresh in mind,
...more
Kat  Hooper
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922) was an American humorist who edited some popular American magazines such as Harper’s Weekly and Puck. His satirical novella A House-Boat on the Styx is responsible for the term Bangsian Fantasy, which refers to stories about famous people in the afterlife (e.g., Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series).

In A House-Boat on the Styx, Charon the ferryman is dismayed to discover that he’s got some competition in the transportation
...more
Jessica
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
A witty, entertaining, and wryly humorous book. A quick read, great for a weekend or roadtrip, and not hard or slow to get through at all. I also listened to it via free audiobook on Librivox, and it was definitely a book well-suited to audio adaptation, as almost all of it is dramatic dialogue between famous people. I would add, however, that it definitely helped to be familiar with literature/history, & classic philosophy, as it added to my understanding of the jokes and caricatures of the ...more
Michele
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this out at random on Librivox one day and am SO glad I did. It is composed, as the title says, of stories about, yes, a houseboat on the River Styx which turns out to be a men's club for various famous dead people (mostly men). The master of ceremonies is Sir Walter Raleigh; members include Shakespeare, Baron Munchhausen and Noah., among others. In addition to the typical men's club activites (i.e., playing cards, shooting billiards, smoking, and drinking) they also discuss things like ...more
Megan Davis
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
24-5-17
Second time reading. I've just finished, and I already want to read it again. Witty, satirical, and simply genius.

***


Absolutely awesome. A literary drug trip with famous poets, philospophers, and more. In my opinion, stream of consciousness at its most fun.

Some will find this borning and hard to slog through. But if you like the idea of a bunch of cool dead people hanging out to chat and argue on a river boat, this is definitely for you. ;)
R
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Because I've finished term for Easter and because I am hungover, I allowed myself a treat, and this was it. I love this book. It created a genre - Bangsian fiction - which is a story set almost or entirely in the afterlife. Its short and hilarious and avaialable on Gutenberg, what more can one ask for?
Permies.world
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! It ended too quickly. Good thing there are a couple of sequels. This is satirical humor at it's best. In this age of a preponderance of mediocre writers, going back and visiting some excellent classic writing such as this is like a taking a cool drink on a hot day. Completely satisfying.
Jesse
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: librivox
I listened to the Librivox.org recording of this book.
The first description I read made it sound like the book would be about Charon, but that was just the first chapter. Although there were some lines that made me laugh, the rest seemed to just be "What would historical character X say to historical character Y if they were to talk at a social club?"
Bettie☯
Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Spotted on Stephanie's profile
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie
Absolutely hilarious!
Don Voorhees
The premise of the book is that everyone who's ever died (up to the time of its publication) has gone to Styx, the river that circles the underworld. The book begins with the ferryman Charon being startled & annoyed by the arrival of a houseboat on the Styx. At first afraid that the boat will put him out of business, he later finds out that he is actually to be appointed its janitor. What follows are 11 more stories which are set on the houseboat. There's no central theme. The purpose appear ...more
Alex Sarll
Like the bourgeois gentleman who never knew he'd been speaking prose his whole life, I had no idea how much Bangsian fantasy I'd read until I read Bangs (though crediting Bangs with the whole subgenre of posthumous encounters between the glorious dead does seem a little unfair to a certain Florentine poet). But, as is so often the way, the original is not the best. It comes as no surprise to learn that Bangs would go on to edit Puck, essentially an East Coast Punch, because the stories here gene ...more
Jacob
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
I came across this during my quest to read every humour book ever written. Some brief thoughts:

1) This might be one of the earliest instances of 'fan-fiction'. Reading this felt eerily similar to watching "Sherlock".

2) It's only occasionally funny. Humour is limited to pseudo-witty remarks and puns or references to the histories of the characters. It feels lazily constructed (but then again, this is basically a book about idle celebrities). Not my style.

3) All the characters sound the same. We n
...more
Michael
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an odd yet amusing book. The story is literally about a house-boat on the river Styx. Charon is at first angered over the fact that a house-boat appears and threatens the monopoly he has enjoyed for eons. He quickly forgives the trespassers when the Associated Shades employee him on the boat as the janitor. The boat houses famous poets, artist, sculptors, and political figures now on the other side of life. At one point Shakespeare is stabbed with a billiard's stick by Nero, at another B ...more
Kat  Hooper
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922) was an American humorist who edited some popular American magazines such as Harper’s Weekly and Puck. His satirical novella A House-Boat on the Styx is responsible for the term Bangsian Fantasy, which refers to stories about famous people in the afterlife (e.g., Philip Jose Farmer’s RIVERWORLD series).

In A House-Boat on the Styx, Charon the ferryman is dismayed to discover that he’s got some competition in the transportation business — a posh new riverboat has app
...more
Perry Whitford
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Waggishly droll little Victorian fantasy which pitches some of the world's most famous statesmen and artists together in a private member's club floating on the Styx, where they pass eternity gently jibing each other.

Bacon and Rayleigh tease Shakespeare about the authorship of his plays, P.T. Barnum scolds Noah for leaving all the dinosaurs off the Ark, Baron Munchausen tells a whopper about duck hunting, and bets are taken on a bout between Samson and Goliath.

A tasteful slice of whimsy.
Robert Wallis
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it
An amusing flight of whimsy with tales of the interactions and escapades of various historical figures who while away their time in hell attending a Gentleman's club sited in a houseboat. While I enjoyed it I also had the impression that there was subtle humour that I was missing. To appreciate it best you probably need to have received a classical education back when Lucky Jim was a contemporary satire, or just be brighter than I am.
I would recommend this book for lovers of the minor Wodehouse
...more
Julie
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic-fiction
This is a tongue-in-cheek story about a houseboat on the Styx which becomes a club for many famous ghosts including Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, Homer, Noah, Adam, Napoleon, Baron Munchausen, etc. Each chapter is about a different topic they discuss from who really wrote Shakespeare's plays to the feasibility of having a poet's corner.

It's quirky and at times not very interesting. I think if you are familiar with the famous people, you would get more out of it. I read it mainly to have back
...more
CQM
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: supernatural
Nice idea but that's about as far as it goes. Almost like the author considered it a good enough idea to write itself.
Ty
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Harmless and at times cute, (though wordy) satire as told through a series of vignettes taking place in Hades; the spirits of departed historical figures are the stars.

Not as in depth or intellectual as I thought it would be, and some of the humor is dated, (it was published in the late 19th century.) Still a few smiles to be had, if you are familiar with the historical figures mentioned in the stories.

A bit of a cheat having the characters of Hamlet being real, but otherwise okay.
Yi Chen Chong
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Funny. Epic. Adventure.
In this book, a house-boat appears on the River Styx, which connects Hades to the Earth, and it talks of all the dead people talking and sharing about their lives. These people include, Noah (The Bible), Shakespeare, Bacon, Confucius, etc. I really liked it, because it was hilarious.
Laura Rye
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant and original....not only does he use famous dead people...he actually writes the dialogue they would probably use...and then there's Baron Munchausen.....he's done everything, been everywhere.. Highly entertaining....and the ending pushes you right into the next book...Pursuit of the House-Boat.
Derek
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly decent read for the first while, then got fairly dull, but picked up again in the end. I enjoyed much of the word-play, and there were several decent groaners, but I found that the sharp wit wasn't as sharp with this work as others. The section on butter sculptures -- as an Iowan with a cultural attachment to said sculptures -- was one of my favorites.
Chelle
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this book, but I found it entertaining beyond belief. The interplay of all the deceased famous was fun. I think my favorite chapter ended up being the one about Noah and PT Barnum.
Michelle
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a pleasant surprise, brilliantly witty and definitely before its time. Loved it!
Samantha Glasser
Read this book for free through Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2618/2...
red_molly
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
a good short story
Brian
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20-aug-04
Entertaining. Humorous description of a literary afterlife.
Daphne
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really quite witty play on the afterlife. If eternal life was actually like this, I'd gladly become a believer.
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John Kendrick Bangs was an American author and satirist, and the creator of modern Bangsian fantasy, the school of fantasy writing that sets the plot wholly or partially in the afterlife.
More about John Kendrick Bangs...

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