A/The Pursuit of the House-Boat House-Boat on the Styx Analysis

John Kendrick Bangs

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

A House-Boat on the Styx proved to be so popular that John Kendrick Bangs quickly wrote a sequel, The Pursuit of the House-Boat. The stories concern the adventures and misadventures of the ghosts of a number of notable men and women from history, the Bible, and literature. The actions of all the characters center on a houseboat that accommodates an exclusive social club. Many people desire to become members, even going as far as stealing the boat to gain membership. The search for and recovery of the boat that follow its disappearance provide a series of hilarious and entertaining escapades that end happily.

The Associated Shades of Hades-on-Styx have acquired a houseboat in which to lodge their gentlemens social club. This fact upsets Charon, the ferryman, who transports the souls of the departed to the underworld. He is mollified somewhat when he is offered the position of janitor by the House Committee, which includes Sir Walter Raleigh, Confucius, Cassius, Demosthenes, and Sir William Blackstone. Charon accepts the position and thus comes into contact with an assortment of heroes and villains from every epoch as well as diverse characters from fiction.

Because he is in constant attendance, Charon is witness to a number of interesting events, not the least being a spirited discussion between William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon over the question of the authorship of the formers works. The one problem that seems to disturb the tranquillity of this otherworldly refuge for men is the desire of a host of female spirits to see the interior of the houseboat. To accommodate feminine curiosity, the members of the club decide to host a Ladies Day, but only after a spirited debate. Only Lucretia Borgia and Delilah are denied invitations,...

(The entire section is 725 words.)