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Lucky Jim (1954)

by Kingsley Amis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,2231371,552 (3.72)317
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.
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    charlie68: A more serious take on the Autumn/Spring romance.
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» See also 317 mentions

English (134)  Dutch (2)  Piratical (1)  All languages (137)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
After enjoying four novels by Evelyn Waugh, I decided to read this book after hearing that it was even funnier. Well, it's not. You might disagree with me, though, if you find drunkenness and chronic irresponsibility more amusing than I do.
James Dixon "works," to use the term loosely, at an academic career in which he has no interest because he can't imagine what else he'd like to do with his life. He hates his situation and the people it puts him in contact with. He deals with his repressed rage through a series of faces he pulls, each bearing a name he has given to it (including an Evelyn Waugh face).
This book's subtext is the rapid expansion of access to higher education after World War Two to make it accessible to those returning from military service by founding or beefing up universities far from Oxbridge. These newer schools were scoffed at; popular opinion held that they must be inferior to the traditional British universities and staffed by incompetents. But one of the rules of satire is that it works best if it is rooted, in part, in respect for the object mocked. So as a puncturing of the pretensions of higher education's paragons, this book rates below Randall Jarrell's Pictures at an Institution in my estimation.
The word that frequently crossed my mind as I read was "tedious," and I came close to chucking it.
And then, in the closing pages, came one of the most beautifully-executed reversals of fortunes I've ever read—totally unexpected by me since I'd been misled by the false impression I was reading a "funny" book. It's not funny, but it is great comedy. The awareness that James's nature won't be changed by his luck doesn't diminish the pleasure one whit. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
A yawn on every page; couldn't get past page 50. Mostly dialogue about: I don't know what, and the rest is comment on the dialogue.
Second star is in case I'm wrong. But I Don't think so. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
Definitely a mixed bag, the first fifty and last fifty pages are suitably entertaining, in between is a bit of a slog. Jim Dixon is lower-grade academic at an unnamed British university. His problems include keeping his job when his boss doesnt like him,deciding between 2 girls he may be attracted, the neurotic manipulative Margaret and the angelic Christine who unfortunately is the girlfriend of the boorish artist Bertrand, who happens to be the son of his nemesis Professor Welch. Throw in a bunch of colleagues Jim doesn't particularly like along with his propensity to get embarrassingly drunk, set alight to his host's sheets and to play practical jokes, and Jim's lot is not a happy one. As I said the first few pages where we get introduced to Jim and learn something of his character and the final denouement where we find which girl he ends up and whether he keeps his job are quite funny and very satisfying, the parts in between can seem a chore to get through. Worth a read even if not perfect. ( )
  drmaf | Jun 9, 2021 |
Lucky Jim is very clever and very British. At first I was afraid that I wouldn't be clever (or British) enough to enjoy it, but once I settled into the character of James Dixon, I found myself liking the poor bastard and by extension his amazing adventures through the world of academia. The end is a little too convenient for me, especially since it absolves Dixon of all of his well-earned guilt, but I can't say I don't like a happy ending. ( )
  jobinsonlis | May 11, 2021 |
Is this really regarded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century? I have no idea why. I didn't find it hilariously funny and left no real impression on me at all. ( )
  Patsmith139 | Mar 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
"Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis's comic masterpiece, may be the funniest book of the past half century "
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amis, Kingsleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benítez Ariza, José Manuelsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bentley, NicolasCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Binneweg, HerbertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blake, QuentinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David LodgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorey, EdwardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilpi, MikkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mortelmans, EdwardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap, H.W.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Znaniecki, PrzemysławTranslatorsecondary 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.
Lucky Jim was first published by Victor Gollancz in January 1954. (Introduction)
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..."
The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-county run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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Average: (3.72)
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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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