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Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Lucky Jim (original 1953; edition 2000)

by Kingsley Amis, David Lodge (Introduction)

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3,923901,312 (3.77)215
Title:Lucky Jim
Authors:Kingsley Amis
Other authors:David Lodge (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (2000), Editie: New Ed, Paperback, 272 pagina's
Collections:1001 books, Before 1988
Tags:1001, Satire, Humor

Work details

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (1953)

Recently added bySashshearman, thegreenmikado, private library, weird_O, hloehndorf
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English (88)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Jim Dixon is a junior history lecturer in a provincial English university coming towards the end of his first year under the evasive Professor Welch. However, Jim has not really made a good impression during his time there and is worried as to whether he will be retained for the up coming academic year. He has also befriended the neurotic Margaret, one of his colleagues, who attempted suicide after a previous relationship failed. One evening whilst at the family home of the Professor Welch Jim is introduced to their artist son Bertrand and his girlfriend Christine. Suddenly Jim's seemingly ordered life begins to unravel with at time comic results.

Luck and entitlement are major themes throughout the book. Jim is initially very passive accepting what others are doing to him never really questioning why and the novel charts both the bad and good luck he endures. Jim's bad luck provides some of the humour of the novel but once he learns to trust good luck, things turn around for him, and he begins to have a say in his fate.

In contrast Bertrand Welch,sees discrepancies in class not in terms of luck, but rather merely as the way things should be.So when Jim considers himself lucky when Christine agrees to come home with him, Bertrand considers Christine to be his "right." Jim's passive surrender to "bad luck" can be a touch pathetic but it is also indicates his concern for others, while Bertrand's sense of entitlement reveals his self-centredness.

Hypocrisy and pretension are satirised throughout. The Welches are mocked for their social pretensions, Margaret for her melodramatic romantic and Bertrand for his pompous nature as he tries to bully all those around him. No one explains to Jim what it is that they really want from him, he is seen as something of a soft touch and they usually have ulterior motives. However,Jim himself is initially hypocritical keeping his real emotions from those around him,in particular faking feelings for Margaret that he does not actually possess. It is not until the end of the novel that Jim is able to be straightforward himself and therefore those around him.

Personally I found this a well crafted novel with well drawn out characters and whilst it did not actually make me laugh out loud it did on numerous occasions to smile which can be no bad thing. As such I will certainly be on the look out by other works by the author. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 18, 2015 |
I didn't like the book at first but it grew on me. The protagonist seemed too shallow and unlikable at first, but then I came to the realization that it was the other characters and the quaint social mores that were shallow and unlikable. Jim was a true post-war personality stuck among pre-war ideologues. It was actually a nice counter-point. I'm not sure if I'll read it again, but I'm glad I read it. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
Why did this book end up on my reading list? Was it a recipient or runner-up for a major award? Recommended from a trustworthy friend? I have no idea! But once it ended up on my book shelves, it was inevitable I would eventually read it. What a disappointment! But, lucky for me, "Lucky Jim" was a quick read.

"Lucky Jim" is a British farce. Could it get any worse than that? I guess there are some readers who would enjoy this book, but I have no idea who. If it were purely a script for a 1940’s movie, I’m sure it would have fared well. A state-of-the-art black and white cinema screen depicting a fat stodgy absent minded professor with his big bosomed, shrill voiced, elitist wife. And the professor’s inept, oafish assistant - that would be Jim - with a few manipulative, whining, stereotype female characters for filler.

Kingsley Amis’ descriptives of Jim were strange and for the most part irrelevant. What must have been meant to appear funny was actually annoying and down right disgusting... Jim’s temper tantrums, his childish destructive pranks, and his inane antics... actions generally associated with an adolescent bratty punk rather than a twenty-something college teacher. Throughout the story Kingsley refers to Jim’s facial expressions as though all his reactions were as insincere as coming from a cartoon character... or maybe Kingsley just lacked the verbal skills to express Jim’s emotions. He writes descriptives like - Jim put on “his tragic face”, “his Chinese mandarin face”, “his lemon-sucking face”, and “his Evelyn Waugh face”... whatever that implies.

And speaking of Evelyn Waugh, there is a quote on the front cover of the Viking paperback edition that "Lucky Jim" was as funny as Evelyn Waugh “at his best”. This is absolutely - without any doubt - just not true. For one thing, even when Evelyn Waugh was being funny, there was usually a deep dramatic story involved. And second, Evelyn Waugh was naturally witty, presenting humorous scenes and comical dialogues that are natural and seemingly authentic. Even in writing satire, Evelyn Waugh’s characters always appear to be real people. Kingsley Amis’ wit is grossly exaggerated staged humor… slapstick and totally ludicrous. There is really no comparison so I suggest you don’t waste your time on this one. ( )
  LadyLo | Sep 6, 2014 |
Funny, but ultimately not too memorable. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
More amusing than outright funny... If you like Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall, you will like this! ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
"Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis's comic masterpiece, may be the funniest book of the past half century "
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"Oh, lucky Jim, how I envy him. Oh, lucky Jim, how I envy him." - Old Song
To Philip Larkin
First words
"They made a silly mistake, though," the Professor of History said, and his smile, as Dixon watched, gradually sank beneath the surface of his features at the memory.
Christine was still prettier and nicer than Margaret, and all the deductions that could be drawn from that fact should be drawn: there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.
"I am sorry to hear of your difficulties, Mr Dickinson, but I'm afraid things are too difficult here for me to be very seriously concerned about your difficulties..."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140186301, Paperback)

Although Kingsley Amis's acid satire of postwar British academic life has lost some of its bite in the four decades since it was published, it's still a rewarding read. And there's no denying how big an impact it had back then--Lucky Jim could be considered the first shot in the Oxbridge salvo that brought us Beyond the Fringe, That Was the Week That Was, and so much more.

In Lucky Jim, Amis introduces us to Jim Dixon, a junior lecturer at a British college who spends his days fending off the legions of malevolent twits that populate the school. His job is in constant danger, often for good reason. Lucky Jim hits the heights whenever Dixon tries to keep a preposterous situation from spinning out of control, which is every three pages or so. The final example of this--a lecture spewed by a hideously pickled Dixon--is a chapter's worth of comic nirvana. The book is not politically correct (Amis wasn't either), but take it for what it is, and you won't be disappointed.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:41 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Jim has fallen into a job at one of the new red brick universities. A moderately successful future beckons as long as Jim can survive a madrigal-singing weekend, deliver a lecture on "merrie England" and resist Christine, the girlfriend of Professor Welch's son, Bertrand..… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182598, 0141399414, 0241956846

NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590175751, 1590175913

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