Small World

Small World

by David Lodge


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140244861
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/01/1995
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 531,750
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David Lodge is the author of twelve novels and a novella, including the Booker Prize finalists Small World and Nice Work. He is also the author of many works of literary criticism, including The Art of Fiction and Consciousness and the Novel.

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What People are Saying About This

Margaret Drabble

"A highly comic novel. Brilliantly entertaining."

Frank Kermode

"A most brilliant and also the funniest novel Lodge has written."

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Small World 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
ashergabbay on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I usually dislike novels with too many characters in them. It makes the story difficult to follow - especially if I read the book over a long period of time - often finding myself leafing back to check up on some character I do not remember. I also find that in many such novels most of the characters are under-developed and leave almost no lasting impression on the story or the reader. In this respect, David Lodge's Small World was a pleasant surprise.Small World is not a long novel (just over 300 pages), yet it is crammed with lively and colourful characters, dozens of them in fact. As the name of the book suggests, the story takes place all over the world and Lodge succeeds in keeping the pace fast enough and the characters alive enough, so as not to lose the reader when jumping between locations and between parallel stories.The book is about English professors "on the loose", trekking the globe in a a frenzy, attending conferences, mingling with colleagues and striking up relationships which are kindled and exstinguished at a mind-boggling pace. The cast of characters is truly heterogenous - in nationality (Italians, Americans, Brits, Germans, Japanese), in age (from retires professors to young and aspiring PhD students) and in personality (from haughty sadists to clueless buffoons).Lodge pokes fun at the academic world and its rules, exposing the main protagonists of this lovely tale as normal human beings in search of love, compassion and social status. It is the second book in a trilogy; I read the first part, Changing Places, a few months ago (and I intend to read the third soon).I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading this book and I fully agree with the observation on its cover that "Lodge combines John Updike's social observation with Philip Roth's uproarious humour".
jayne_charles on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really should have got round to reading this ages ago, it was great. I wasn't too sure at the start - tiny typeface, and a curious structure to the plot in that a bit of the story unfolds and then we are suddenly introduced to about twenty additional characters one by one, a page or so devoted to each. I panicked: was it necessary to remember all of these characters or were they just amusing interludes?Actually I did have to remember them, but at that point things started to take off, and the characterisation and the humour took over. Oddly enough it was often the bit-part characters that supplied the best laughs (like the old spinster professor who sees phallic symbols everywhere, and the very proper Japanese translator struggling to translate an English book full of innuendo. His queries were a constant source of jollity ('Sweet Fanny Adams: Who is she?'))I would never have thought a bunch of professors could make for such an amusing not to say racy book. The ending was perhaps a leap of probability too far, but all in all a really enjoyable read.
dukedom_enough on LibraryThing 8 months ago
While packing to go to a recent professional conference, I remembered I had Small World on the shelf. The novel, one of David Lodge's delightful academic comedies, follows a number of professors and students as they fly off to ... literature conferences. So, a natural choice, and a good one, it turned out.Small World is the second in Lodge's trilogy that began with Changing Places and ended with Nice Work, but it can be read in isolation. Our literary academics fly to destinations around the world, sometimes sumptuous, sometimes mean, where they always meet the same fellow professionals they met at previous conferences, who relate gossip from yet other conferences with more urgency than they discuss literary ideas. Lectures and conference sessions are there to be skipped, because the main point is the informal contacts to be made - jockeying for better jobs and breaking marriage vows seem to be the most popular of these. Lodge is himself an English professor, and knows this world well.The year here is 1979, and academia is busily assimilating the critical approaches collectively called Theory. A new chair of literary studies will soon be announced, with no duties and the highest salary in academia. Its pursuit by an array of colorfully-drawn senior academics provides one of the novel's themes. The early-career academics are mainly represented by Persse McGarrigle. Attending conferences for the first time, he is a sexual virgin and the last English-speaking literary academic to hear about structuralism.A certain ennui is felt by many. The problem seems to come straight from the top, where Prof. Kingfisher, literary critic supreme, struggles with both literal impotence and an inability to generate new ideas. We learn that Persse's name possibly derives from Percival; yes, Lodge is playing with Grail parallels. Persse's own Grail is the beautiful, elusive, and formidably well-read Angelica, who shows up at conferences with well-posed questions and leaves conferees wondering where she is from.Lodge writes mainly from the viewpoint of the men; women have their say but we see less of their inner lives. The story's climax occurs, of course, at a Modern Language Association meeting. Lodge's wit provides more smiles than outright laughs, but provides plenty of both; I have only touched on some highlights here.
krbrancolini on LibraryThing 8 months ago
"Small World" is one of those books that starts slowly and then rockets to a spectacular finish. It's just so clever and well-written! This is the sequel to "Changing Places," and it was actually nice to catch up with characters in that novel. "Small World" -- subtitled "An Academic Romance" -- take the clever approach of using the "romance" as a device for exploring the world of late-twentieth century English professors from various continents. The absolute eccentricity of some of these profs was entirely believable. And poor Persse McGarrigle, who travels the world, on an American Express card, searching for a woman whom he met once and now feels compelled to persue from academic conference to academic conference. In addition to this quest, the book includes all sorts of improbable coincidences. But the reader has been expecting this: It's a romance! I became strangely involved in the lives of the characters and found myself loving all of the jetting around the world. I'm glad it wasn't me, but what a way to armchair travel!
cornerhouse on LibraryThing 9 months ago
In Small World, Lodge marries the pre-novelistic romance¿knights errant, damsels in and out of distress, dragons to slay and foes to defeat, asking the right questions when they need asking¿with the campus novel to produce a delightful farce in which he both skewers the modern academic¿s propensity for trotting off to conferences and lecture tours and paints a sympathetic picture of some of the more humble players in the academic drama.I don¿t remember the university being all that much fun, but then I never finished my PhD, presented a variation on the same paper at a multitude of different conferences, or was seduced by an Italian Marxist who drives a Maserati. Clearly, I was in the wrong program.
bexaplex on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Persse McGarrigle chases the girl of his dreams across the globe at a series of academic conferences.Small World is a clever novel, and funny at times. I had a hard time liking any of the characters, which impeded my enjoyment of the book. There's a cigar-smoking American blowhard, an uptight and unfaithful British traditionalist, a flirty and mysterious young American woman, and a rich Italian Marxist, none of them particularly interesting.
Freder1ck on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This book exemplifies a definition of romance, especially in the Renaissance sense.
NativeRoses on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This is an academic satire about a college English department. Very funny and highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Small World makes light of a terribly important social phenomenon. On the other hand, the book was published in 1984, before academia had become the place it is now. The novel is also slow by American standards, taking its time with each scene, including scenes that make the reader wonder why the scenes are there at all. The most serious problem from a social point of view is that academia now is not the place it was twenty years ago. For a current fictional picture of academia and the story of how it got that way, get The Rape of Alma Mater. What has happened in America has also happened in the U.K, as Small World makes clear. These people are networking on an international scale. Perhaps, Lodge thought these literary ideas were so silly they would blow over in a short time and he could laugh them out of existence. ('Then, what's it all for?!') But the grim-faced neoMarxists of the present universities have no sense of humor and are not about to be laughed out of their entrenched positions of power. The situation is now very serious. But read this book if you like. Then, however, get the novel Alma Mater mentioned above and find out what it's like now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The world of academia is vast but becomes like any other......wide at the bottom....smaller toward the top of the food chain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read it first, before two others and it's still the greatest. But I want to read them all now. Small World is about a very LIKABLE young English prof (of course), and Phillip Swallow and Morris Zapp from 'Changing Places' as well, about whom I can't say the same.