Lucky Jim
Amis (Kingsley), Lodge (David)
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Amazon Book Description

  1. Kingsley Amis's witty campus novel, Lucky Jim is a comedy that skewers the hypocrisies and vanities of 1950s academic life. This Penguin Modern Classics edition contains an introduction by David Lodge.
  2. Jim Dixon has accidentally fallen into a job at one of Britain's new red brick universities. A moderately successful future in the History Department beckons - as long as Jim can stave off the unwelcome advances of fellow lecturer Margaret, survive a madrigal-singing weekend at Professor Welch's, deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England' and resist Christine, the hopelessly desirable girlfriend of Welch's awful son Bertrand. Inspired by Amis's friend, the poet Philip Larkin, Jim Dixon is a timeless comic character, adrift in a hopelessly gauche and pretentious world.
  3. Kingsley Amis (1922-1995), born in London, wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories, but is best remembered as the novelist whose works offered a comic deconstruction of post-war Britain. Amis explored his disillusionment with British society in novels such as Lucky Jim (1954) and That Uncertain Feeling (1955); his other works include The Green Man (1970) Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986) which won the Booker Prize.

  • Penguin Modern Classics - New Edition (25 May 2000)
  • Introduction by David Lodge.
  • See Wikipedia: Lucky Jim

"Amis (Kingsley) - Lucky Jim"

Source: Amis (Kingsley), Lodge (David) - Lucky Jim

  • I read this for two reasons:-
    1. For a quick comic look at provincial university life, on which I’ve (thankfully) missed out.
    2. In "Botros (Sophie) - Truth, Time and History - A Philosophical Inquiry with Dr Sophie Botros", Sophie Botros accused Winston Smith of being a “hapless everyman”. I thought this an unfair characterisation, which I thought might apply better to the characters – such as Norman Pitkin – portrayed by Wikipedia: Norman Wisdom. However, Lucky Jim might be a parallel – as a middle-tier but thwarted person – but I hadn’t actually read the book, so I repaired the situation. I’m not sure “hapless” applies to Jim Dixon either, though maybe at least as well.
  • There are useful outlines of the book on
    Wikipedia: Lucky Jim, and in
    → "Lodge (David) - Lucky Jim: Introduction"
    … so I don’t need to add anything here.
  • It seemed to show the lack of direction of those (fairly) clever people with arts degrees. Teaching the same is the natural next step, and University teaching is more attractive that School for those who can cut it.
  • But, there seemed to be no real interest in the subject as a “private passion” – just as a job. I’d always felt I’d have been uncomfortable having my primary intellectual interest central to my job – too much of the same thing. Contrast Derek Parfit. But Jim Dixon – while uninterested in his specialism of mediaeval history is not portrayed as having other intellectual interests.
  • I’d note that anyone wanting a fairly factual take on academic life along these lines might follow up by reading "Honderich (Ted) - Philosopher - a Kind of Life", though this book hardly tickles the ribs.
  • All-in-all, I enjoyed the book, but didn’t find it particularly intellectually or aesthetically engaging.

"Lodge (David) - Lucky Jim: Introduction"

Source: Amis (Kingsley), Lodge (David) - Lucky Jim

  • Lodge remarks (or at least alleges) that – in Lucky Jim – the “… devices of humorous literary prose … owe something to the ‘ordinary language’ philosophy that dominated Oxford when Amis was a student there”.
  • Lodge notes that – while Jim Dixon is uncertain of his career, and dependent on the patronage of someone he despises, there’s nothing of the academic politics that usually feature in such “campus” novels.
  • Lodge also notes that a huge proportion of humanities graduates in the 1940s-50s went into education because the higher liberal professions were controlled by the “public-school-Oxbridge-old-boy network”.
  • Lodge has many interesting things to say about the politics of the time, the class system as it impacted those such as Jim Dixon, the ethics of the novel and the soundness of elements of the plot, but I have no time to pursue them now.
  • To be continued …?

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