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Small World (1984)

by David Lodge

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Rummidge (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,060337,154 (3.86)39
Philip Swallow, Morris Zapp, Persse McGarrigle and the lovely Angelica are the jet-propelled academics who are on the move, in the air and on the make in David Lodge's satirical Small World. It is a world of glamorous travel and high excitement, where stuffy lecture rooms are swapped for lush corners of the globe, and romance is in the air.… (more)
  1. 30
    Straight Man by Richard Russo (browner56)
    browner56: Very funny treatments of academic life from different sides of the Atlantic Ocean
  2. 00
    Rates of Exchange by Malcolm Bradbury (KayCliff)
  3. 00
    The Fisher King by Anthony Powell (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels treat of the Fisher King legend in a modern setting.
  4. 00
    Changing Places by David Lodge (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: KayCliff: Small World is a sequel to Changing Places

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» See also 39 mentions

English (26)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Unnecessary amounts of sexual depictions. Characters are stereotypes. ( )
  Unwary3805 | Jan 1, 2023 |
No longer fascinated by the book's simultaneous following of several characters (I’ve read quite a few like that by now), and somewhat bored now by the heterosexual romances' passages, I still have a soft spot for it, if only because of the Zapp lecture on "every decoding is another encoding", which more or less precisely describes my own attitude towards literature ... and indeed, verbal communication as a whole. ( )
  Stravaiger64 | Dec 20, 2021 |
Una de las peores traducciones que he leído en mi vida. Tengo una lista de las siete peores traducciones que he leído y Esteban/Esteve Riambau (cambia de nombre según a qué lengua traduce) es el traductor de una de ellas. Leyendo esta traducción, se podría "retraducir" el libro al inglés casi palabra por palabra. ( )
  vturiserra | Nov 29, 2021 |
[I wrote this review in 2009]

**A very human comedy. Shortlisted for the Booker 1984**

This is the second in David Lodge's trilogy of campus novels set in the fictional city of Rummidge. When Small World was published in 1984 Davd Lodge was Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Birmingham University and Small World is very loosely based upon, or at the least inspired by the author's own academic experiences at the time - both the City and University of Rummidge both seem loosely modelled on popular preconceptions (and prejudices) about Birmingham in the 1980s.

Published in 1984 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1984, Small World was also adapted for a Granada TV series in 1988.

It's hilarious. A book which can be enjoyed on several levels is an art form of literature which David Lodge achieves with Small World. The satire of human nature and relationships, and the parody of the holy-grail-type romance quest which he portrays can be enjoyed by any reader. A reader who has been a student at University (especially a campus-based one) will appreciate something more of the campus-life amusements of the novel. Anyone who has worked at a University, attended any kind of conference, or organised one, will get a lot of mileage out of the parody and dissection of the 'professional academic' and conference-attending world, and if you know something of English Literature critical theories you won't need to skim the many references to them and will thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the book. Yes, there are references to sexism, and chauvinism and many other '-isms' besides, but this is a part of the book that plants it firmly in the early 80s, just as Dickens was very much a product of late-nineteenth-century Victorian realism. It's a book that is very much a product of its time, and yet in many ways is exceedingly relevant today. The characters are fun and funny, and if you've been to a University (especially an Arts department, dare I say it) you'll recognise many of them. There is sex in abundance, slapstick coincidental humour, academic infighting, intrigue, suspicion and idiocy, yet you will also come across some more poignant moments too.

There are so many excellent characters that it would be shame to mention them all. Far more fun to discover them for the first time within the pages of the novel. Loosely plotted, the book follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of young Irish scholar of English Literature and part-time poet, Persse McGarrigle, as he ventures away from his lecturing post (an obscure new department position at a largely agricultural college in Ireland) to a conference of Literature in Rummidge. Here his eyes are opened to a number of literary theories and academic intrigues and he meets for the first time the divine Angelica L. Prabst, a PhD student of supreme intellect and outstanding beauty, with whom of course Persse falls instantly and irrevocably in love, sparking off a series of adventures which lead Persse chasing his dreams half way around the globe. Many other characters cross paths again and again, with numerous themes doing likewise, but it's enough to say, 'read the book, you won't be disappointed.' I've had the triology on my 'waiting to read' list for some years, and do now wish I'd picked them up sooner. I'm now looking forward to reading the prequel and sequel and hope they are just as funny and entertaining. An unreserved 5*s from me. Happy reading. ( )
  ArdizzoneFan | Nov 12, 2020 |
I abandoned this book after about sixty pages. Although well written, it focuses on a number of male academics trying to get into bed with a young female academic. Yes, she is smarter than the lot of them, etc., etc., but believe me when I tell you I have had enough of that premise for the rest of time.
  thesmellofbooks | Sep 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Lodgeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Örmen, AbbasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kannosto, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Mary
With all my love
First words
Like Changing Places, to which it is a kind of sequel, Small World resembles what is sometimes called the real world, without corresponding exactly to it, and is peopled by figments of the imagination (the name of one of the minor characters has been changed in later editions to avoid misunderstanding on this score).

Author's note.
When April with its sweet showers has pierced the drought of March to the root, and bathed every vein of earth with that liquid by whose power the flowers are engendered; when the zephyr, too, with its dulcet breath, has breathed life into the tender new shoots in every copse and on every heath, and the young sun has run half his course in the sign of the Ram, and the little birds that sleep all night with theeir eyes open give song (so Nature prompts them in their hearts), then, as the poet Geoffrey Chaucer observed many years ago, folk long to go on pilgrimages. Only, thes days, professional people call them conferences.

"April is the cruellest month", Persse McGarrigle quoted silently to himself, gazing through grimy windowpanes at the unseasonable snow crusting the lawns and flowerbeds of the Rummidge campus.

Part I, chapter one.
Real romance is a pre-novelistic kind of narrative. It's full of adventure and coincidence and surprises and marvels, and has lots of characters who are lost or enchanted or wandering about looking for each other, or for the Grail, or something like that.
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Philip Swallow, Morris Zapp, Persse McGarrigle and the lovely Angelica are the jet-propelled academics who are on the move, in the air and on the make in David Lodge's satirical Small World. It is a world of glamorous travel and high excitement, where stuffy lecture rooms are swapped for lush corners of the globe, and romance is in the air.

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Average: (3.86)
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