Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The 158-Pound Marriage by John Irving

The 158-Pound Marriage (1974)

by John Irving

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,632144,437 (3.02)15



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 15 mentions

English (13)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
When I read this book, John Irving wasn't as famous as he latterly is, but I still marked him as a writer to watch. This is a slim novel about a wife-swapping experience, which as usual, doesn't work out well for half the persons involved. It's quite chilling to those who are insecure in their relationships, or at any rate, that's what I think! ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 5, 2016 |
Sometimes, I have a hard time getting into John Irvings books. By far and away, this is my favorite. I find the characters likable even when they are unlikable and very real. In someways (maybe it's the wrestling) it reminds me of what Garp may have been like if he'd had a normal life. ( )
  lmm161 | Mar 30, 2014 |
Adults with too much time on their hands. Really, does anyone behave like this?
  jfriedm | Jun 24, 2012 |
By no means Irving's best. Four fairly unlikeable characters in a story that is cruel and lacking in emotion. ( )
  qofd | Aug 21, 2011 |
"Can an Unhappy Man Tolerate a Happy Woman?"

Take two people that are married. Make them as opposite to one another as you can. now invent another couple and do the same but reverse the genders. Now, involve these couples into a marriage swap where the ‘likes’ are linked together. There you have the 158-Pound Marriage.

Do opposites attract? Apparently they do…and they make better marriage partners than ones that have similar interests. Of course, they may not see eye to eye on anything, but isn’t that what makes marriage interesting?

This novel is another example of John Irving’s showcase of characterization. The narrator never seems to be named but the main character in the book is named Severin Winter (the book says it is pronounced SAY-VER-INbut I contend it is pronounced as it is written). He could be a portrait of the author himself. Short and ‘bear-like’, he is a wrestling coach first and a teacher of German language second. He comes from Vienna and has a lot to say about a lot, every though the narrator has him as brooding and moody most of the time.

The title of the book refers to how Severin classifies novels into weight classes. The better the book, the higher the weight class. There is also a reference to a classification difference of 1 pound that kept Severin from becoming not only a good wrestler but a great one. You’re correct, it was 158. And yet another reference to a current wrestler competing for greatness in the weight class of…you guessed it 158.

So what does this have to do with the intersection of these marriages? My guess is that the marriage ‘becomes’ a different category when the couples decide to exchange partners on a regular basis. Maybe also because of the weight classification of novels, Severin also considers his own marriage to be in a higher category.

It is difficult to tell the summary without making the book sound too risque. Well, it IS at times. But those Irving fans know this is only a lure. The real sadness is waiting for you at the end of the book. I thought it was sad, at least. You may think it’s tripe. ( )
  Britty | Apr 29, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Irvingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Broek, C.A.G. van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Voor JMF
First words
My wife, Utchka (Whose name I sometime ago shortened to Utch), could teach patience to a time bomb.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345417968, Paperback)

The darker vision and sexual ambiguities of this erotic, ironic tale about a ménage a quatre in a New England university town foreshadow those of The World According to Garp; but this very trim and precise novel is a marked departure from the author's generally robust, boisterous style. Though Mr. Irving's cool eye spares none of his foursome, he writes with genuine compassion for the sexual tests and illusions they perpetrate on each other; but the sexual intrigue between them demonstrates how even the kind can be ungenerous, and even the well-intentioned, destructive.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
39 avail.
22 wanted
2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.02)
0.5 1
1 19
1.5 5
2 75
2.5 13
3 161
3.5 31
4 83
4.5 6
5 15

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 103,161,953 books! | Top bar: Always visible