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Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
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Lucky Jim (original 1953; edition 2000)

by Kingsley Amis, David Lodge (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,2621051,164 (3.75)240
Member:Simone2
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, English, Before 1988
Rating:****
Tags:1001, Satire, Humor

Work details

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (1953)

Recently added byLitaVore, nijntjepluis, MaxCastle, Raccoonberzerk, private library, Keelz09, gbill
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» See also 240 mentions

English (103)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  All (106)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
Jim Dixon hates his tedious job as a junior professor of medieval studies, mocks his bumbling superior (professor Welch) while having to attend his banal social functions, and is engaged in back and forth sabotage with one of his housemates. He’s also interested in a little bit of the old “slap and tickle” with the girlfriend of his Welch’s obnoxious son. He does the minimum possible as a teacher, expressing cynicism all the way, makes a variety of silly faces in response to his frustrations, and loves to sneak off for a pint or six down at the pub (or an “octuple whiskey” for that matter).

The opening chapter is hilarious and the book has many memorable scenes, all greatly enhanced by Amis’s precision with words. Some examples: in slowly getting a point across to the dimwitted Welch, he is “at first pleased to see this evidence that Welch’s mind could still be reached from the outside”. In considering the title for an article he’s published, he observes “It was a perfect title, in that it crystallized the article’s niggling mindlessness, its funereal parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it through on non-problems”. In getting locked out of the bathroom, he “stood well back, straddling, and raised his hands like a conductor on the brink of some thunderous overture or tone-poem; then, half-conductor, half-boxer, went into a brief manic flurry of obscene gestures”. And on and on. I wasn’t wild about one of the female characters going into “hysterics” and needing to be slapped out of it, but the rest of the novel is pitch perfect.

This is a post-war book with sardonic and playful humor in the vein of Joseph Heller, and Keith Gessen does a great job in the introduction to provide context for it. Amis was expressing anger at an England in which “the wrong people were in charge, had the money, had to be listened to and treated with respect”, and dedicated the novel to his close friend and young writer Philip Larkin, who was a kindred spirit. The novel captures their hatred of authority and irritability with nearly everything around them, but it’s the hatred of smart young men, and I found myself smiling and empathizing even as Dixon commits acts of minor vandalism and shirks his duties. Instantly popular when published, it would change Amis’s life – he would now become a part of the literary establishment – and his time of being the cynical outsider would soon close. Humor in books or film sometimes doesn’t hold up over the years, but it does in this one, and it’s recommended.

Quotes:
On love:
“Your attitude measures up to the two requirements of love. You want to go to bed with her but can’t, and you don’t know her very well. Ignorance of the other person topped up with deprivation, Jim. You fit the formula all right, and what’s more you want to go on fitting it. The old hopeless passion, isn’t it?”

On progress:
“Those who professed themselves unable to believe in the reality of human progress ought to cheer themselves up, as the students under examination had conceivably been cheered up, by a short study of the Middle Ages. The hydrogen bomb, the South African governments, Chiang Kai-shek, Senator McCarthy himself, would then seem a light price to pay for no longer being in the Middle Ages. Had people ever been as nasty, as self-indulgent, as dull, as miserable, as cocksure, as bad at art, as dismally ludicrous, or as wrong as they’d been in the Middle Age[s]?” ( )
1 vote gbill | Dec 1, 2016 |
Jim Dixon is a lecturer the history department of a university. This is despite the fact that he is not terribly interested in history and is particularly indifferent to what is supposed to be his special area of interest, medieval history. He is still on probation and therefore is obliged to be helpful and obsequious to the head of history, Mr Welch, a man he hates. He is romantically involved (in an on-again, off-again sort of way) with another lecturer called Margaret, who is recovering after a suicide attempt, after she was dumped by a boyfriend.

Jim is invited to a cultural weekend at the Welches' house, where he meets Christine, who is going out with Bertrand, Mr Welch's son. While there, Jim gets very drunk and wakes to find that he has burned (with cigarettes), his bedsheets, blankets, rug and bedside table. Christine helps him do away with the evidence.

This was very entertaining, although Jim's relentless self-destructive conduct does get a bit much at times. The final set-piece bus journey to the station is excellent and I enjoyed Bill's timed faint during the lecture Jim gives on Merrie England. I found the Margaret relationship puzzling. Her hold over Jim was just not convincing to me. Still, otherwise enjoyable. ( )
  pgchuis | Sep 2, 2016 |
I read this book back in, I think it was 2012, originally.

I enjoyed it, I thought it was a solid read. Kingsley Amis writes the protagonist, Jim, well. He's a misanthropic man who's just done with the world and society and everything. I found some scenes really readable and quick to get to, but others I felt really dragged on a bit.

The action seemed to slow in parts because so much of this book is part of Jim's internal dialogue, so after his long, sprawling inner rants, the narrator sort of zooms out, and you're in the exact same place as where you left off? I have no idea how else to describe it.

I found it readable at the time but I feel like my tastes have changed quite a bit, and I'm not in such a rush to pick up Amis' books. That said, I really did like the wry, witty, derisive sense of humour that Amis has and I remember parts of this book fondly. c:

3.5 stars from me~. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
Book Description Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, Lucky Jim remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1954. This is the story of Jim Dixon, a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones." Kingsley Amis's scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores, cranks, frauds, and neurotics with whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancy. More than just a merciless satire of cloistered college life and stuffy postwar manners, Lucky Jim is an attack on the forces of boredom, whatever form they may take, and a work of art that at once distills and extends an entire tradition of English comic writing, from Fielding and Dickens through Wodehouse and Waugh. As Christopher Hitchens has written, "If you can picture Bertie or Jeeves being capable of actual malice, and simultaneously imagine Evelyn Waugh forgetting about original sin, you have the combination of innocence and experience that makes this short romp so imperishable."

My Review This is a very humorous satire about a young academic, Jim Dixon, who works as a medieval history professor at one of England's provincial universities during the 1950's. It pokes fun at people who take themselves too seriously and the boring dinner parties one must attend. Kingsley's writing is amazing and quite poetic at times. It's filled with wit and lots of wisdom. This book is truly a masterpiece and should be read by everyone." ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
OK book. Maybe I missed the humor of the author. I didn't find it as funny as it is purported to be. I enjoyed Pnin by Nabakov better. Jim is definitely lucky by the end. ( )
  AmieB7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
"Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis's comic masterpiece, may be the funniest book of the past half century "
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kingsley Amisprimary authorall editionscalculated
David LodgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Oh, lucky Jim, how I envy him. Oh, lucky Jim, how I envy him." - Old Song
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:23 -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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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182598, 0141399414, 0241956846

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2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590175751, 1590175913

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