Kingsley Amis's witty campus novel, Lucky Jim is a comedy that skewers the hypocrisies and vanities of 1950s academic life. This Penguin Modern Classics edition contains an introduction by David Lodge. Jim Dixon has accidentally fallen into a job at one of Britain's new red brick universities. A moderately successful future in the History Department beckons - as long as Jim can stave off the unwelcome advances of fellow lecturer Margaret, survive a madrigal-singing weekend at Professor Welch's, deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England' and resist Christine, the hopelessly desirable girlfriend of Welch's awful son Bertrand. Inspired by Amis's friend, the poet Philip Larkin, Jim Dixon is a timeless comic character, adrift in a hopelessly gauche and pretentious world. Kingsley Amis (1922-1995), born in London, wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories, but is best remembered as the novelist whose works offered a comic deconstruction of post-war Britain. Amis explored his disillusionment with British society in novels such as Lucky Jim (1954) and That Uncertain Feeling (1955); his other works include The Green Man (1970) Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986) which won the Booker Prize. If you enjoyed Lucky Jim, you might like Amis's The King's English, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'A flawless comic novel ... I loved it then, as I do now. It has always made me laugh out loud' Helen Dunmore, The Times 'A brilliantly and preposterously funny book' Guardian
About the Author
Kingsley Amis' (1922-1995) works take a humorous yet highly critical look at British society, especially of the period following the end of World War II. He was born in London. Amis explored his disillusionment with British society in novels such asTHAT UNCERTAIN FEELING (1955). His other works include THE GREEN MAN (1970); STANLEY AND THE WOMEN (1984); and THE OLD DEVILS (1986) which won the Booker Prize. Amis also wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories.
What People are Saying About This
"A classic comic novel, a seminal campus novel, and a novel which seized and expressed to the mood who came of age in the 1950s. But there is more to it than that...it's university setting functions primarily as the epitome of a stuffy, provincial bourgoise world into which the hero is promoted by education, and against his values and codes he rebels, at first inwardly and at last outwardly."
"Dixon make little dents in these smug fabric of hypocritical, humbugging, classdown British society...Amos cought the mood of post-war restiveness in a book which, does socially significant, wise, and still is extremely funny."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Perhaps I'm a stuffed-shirted bore, but I didn't find Lucky Jim anywhere near as funny as it was made out to be. Granted, it did make me smile sometimes, and laugh out loud occasionally. But it doesn't seem to have much else going for it. There's wit enough, but much of the comedy is physical rather than verbal, with strong elements of farce, and would probably work better on stage or screen than in print. The language is gratingly formal and often feels mechanical, even when viewed as a parody of academic writing.Kingsley's character portraits are perceptive, but somehow failed to grab me. At the heart of it all is Jim Dixon, a supposedly loveable slacker who expects luck to carry him through life. And ¿ moral of the story ¿ it does. Jim comes to the realisation that 'It was luck you needed all along; with just a little more luck he'd have been able to switch his life onto a momentarily adjoining track'. With more than a little luck, Jim gets the girl of his dreams, whose pleasant personality is a direct result of her fortunate good looks, and escapes from Margaret, whose histrionic personality is a direct result of her less-than-fortunate looks. Dumping Margaret is a perfectly acceptable course of action ¿ it's nothing personal; she's just unlucky.To the average mid-twenties male who wishes that the women in his life would stop being so damned complicated and just sleep with him already, it may be a soothing balm. But for someone who stopped laughing along with Jim a hundred pages ago, it's plainly ridiculous and irritatingly shallow. The last thing Jim needs is more luck ¿ what he really needs is to pull his bloody socks up, control his pathological face-pulling and stop looking for the quick-fix solution to every problem that comes his way. Oddly enough, the character with whom I most sympathise is just another obstacle in Dixon's path: Michie, the student who actually wants to get something out of his university education. Fortunately, my lecturers are much more capable than Dixon and Welch, who, to me, seem just as bad as each other.Perhaps I'm being a little harsh, and taking an overly serious approach to what should be a lighthearted campus romp. But when the laughs don't come thick and fast enough, the superficiality of this novel really stands out, and I can't help but feel as if I'm reading the 1950s equivalent of a National Lampoon film.
I first read the thing back in the summer 1975 (I can be sure of the date because it was part of my University set reading ¿ I was going `up¿ to Leicester to study for a B.Sc. and some `wit¿ had included this on the list of `books to study before coming¿ as it was supposed to have sketches of people still teaching at the university in it ¿ if it did, I never met them).I didn¿t find it very funny then, and I find it even less so now.It is in the genre of `campus novels¿ ¿ a particularly tacky genre ¿ and is claimed to have been `seminal¿ ¿ for which I shall never forgive it.For those who don¿t know, campus novels are about College and University campuses; are written by people whose whole lives have been blighted by the college experience and consequently feel it incumbent upon themselves to inflict a similar blight on the rest of their and future generations; they usually attempt to be `hilarious¿ ¿ and fail.Campus Novels are loved by academics (a sort of S & M experience, I would suggest) and book critics (who tend to be failed academics - and consequently promote them as some sort of revenge taking experience). They pop up far too often on suggested reading lists and the like.`Lucky Jim¿ supposedly changed the whole post-war generation ¿ with little evidence to support this, I am firmly `in denial¿.Jim Dixon is the sort of lout who, because he had nothing better to do and is too lazy to do anything anyway, enters the University lecturing profession dishonestly ¿ claiming interest and expertise where he has none. The book follows this thug¿s adventures through a `red-brick¿ university where he causes drunken destruction and chaos wherever he goes. He exhibits the sort of socialist rhetoric you¿d expect and lands a job at the end with a millionaire.What is clear to me (although not so clear to many at the time of publication, or since) is that Mr Amis does not like Jim ¿ he is an `oink¿ of the wrong class and only becomes respectable at the end as he moves into the pale blue conservative world. His luck is in escaping the not-really-university `red-brick¿ institution, whose academic standards and personnel are only a joke.The so called humour is in fact barely disguised contempt for the genuine changes brought on by a World War that shattered the privilege of education and class (although not so effectively). Educating this sort of person is obviously a dumbing-down in the eyes of Mr Amis.The excellent introduction to the Penguin Edition, by David Lodge, also points out the attack being made on Graham Greene ¿ especially on `The Heart of the Matter¿.There are obvious connections and references ¿ from suicide to doing `the right thing¿.All I can say is I re-read, `The Heart of the Matter¿ recently and was impressed: I re-read this slight book and found it severely wanting.Fortunately Mr Amis went on to write better things ¿ unfortunately, his politics went even further in the wrong direction.
In all time top 10. The original and best of the books that ring bells about all that is bad (or best) about you. Funny, funny, funny.