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20th Century Lucky Jim [Paperback]

Kingsley Amis , David Lodge
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 22 1992 Penguin Twentieth Century Classics
In his send-up of the academic world, the author poked fun at the British way of life, and gave post-war fiction a new and enduring figure to laugh at.

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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.


Lucky Jim illustrates a crucial human difference between the little guy and the small man. And Dixon, like his creator, was no clown but a man of feeling after all.” – Christopher Hitchens
“Mr. Kingsley Amis is so talented, his observation is so keen, that you cannot fail to be convinced that the young men he so brilliantly describes truly represent the class with which his novel is concerned….They have no manners, and are woefully unable to deal with any social predicament. Their idea of a celebration is to go to a public bar and drink six beers. They are mean, malicious and envious….They are scum.” – W. Somerset Maugham
“’After Evelyn Waugh, what?’ this reviewer asked six years ago….The answer, already, is Kingsley Amis, the author of Lucky Jim….Satirical and sometimes farcical, they are derived from shrewd observation of contemporary British life, and they occasionally imply social morals….Lucky Jim is extremely funny. Everyone was much amused, and since it is also a kind of male Cinderella or Ugly Duckling story, it left its readers goo-humored and glowing.”  —Edmund Wilson, The New Yorker, 1956
“Remarkable for its relentless skewering of artifice and pretension, Lucky Jim also contains some of the finest comic set pieces in the language.” —Olivia Laing, The Observer

“Remarkably, Lucky Jim is as fresh and surprising today as it was in 1954. It is part of the landscape, and it defines academia in the eyes of much of the world as does no other book, yet if you are coming to it for the first time you will feel, as you glide happily through its pages, that you are traveling in a place where no one else has ever been. If you haven’t yet done so, you must.” —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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'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. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The funniest book I've ever read March 26 2010
By Phoebe
I was given this novel to read when I was 17 and told that there are two kinds of people: those who find "Lucky Jim" hysterically funny--and those who see no humor in it at all. Over the years, as I've read and reread this novel and shared it with many people in the manner of a missionary trying to spread the gospel, I've discovered that this is true: it's either love or hate. However, if you like to read about pretentious people, snobs, and bores getting what they deserve, then you will probably enjoy this book. But that's only one part of "Lucky Jim." Much of the humor emerges from Amis's clever descriptions of his characters, so if you appreciate irony and a well-turned phrase, then you'll want to read it again. I've read this novel at least 15 times, and it can still make me laugh out loud. It is Amis's best book (his second best, I've always felt, is "The Green Man") and the finest comic novel of the twentieth century.
(And when you purchase the Penguin edition, you'll be getting a very good introduction as well.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this book on the subway, June 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
because, most likely, it will provoke loud screams of laughter and you'll embarrass yourself. Lucky Jim is the story of Jim Dixon, a lowly lecturer at an English university. In order to keep his job, he must suck up to the fabulously annoying professor, Ned Welch. He's also saddled with an annoying and not very attractive girlfriend and he's given to playing immature pranks on people he doesn't like. Indeed, he divides all mankind into two great classes: people he likes and people he doesn't. Jim also likes his booze, which occaisionally causes him trouble, particularly after an arty-farty week-end party at his boss's house. If you want to read something that's light but intelligent then Lucky Jim is a good choice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Funniest Books Ever Jan. 7 2004
This book is a hilarious balm for a quarter life crisis and should be required reading for anyone who is in Generation X. Set in the 1950's, Jim proves that today's young professionals are not the first to be "slackers". Newly graduated, Jim feels lost, does not like his job, dislikes his boss (and the boss's family), and enjoys making fun of pseudo-intellectuals with his razor sharp intellectual sense of humor. During this turmoil Jim finds himself hopelessly falling in love with a woman who is "off limits" and he is forced to make some serious choices. This book is truely a classic and one will fall in and out of love with this witty anti-hero with every passing page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious! Aug. 4 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is absolutely hilarious! I don't know that I have ever laughed as hard while reading a book as I did in this one. The wit is both sharp and precise--you sam. But it isn't only funny, it has a tremendous warmth to it. If you aren't smiling from humor, you're smiling because of the connection with the characters.
Not only did I read this book with delight, I've actually given two copies to friends (this is not something i've ever done with secular books other than this one). I know of one professor who reads this book every year, and I may very well do the same. Get this book, you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Laugh a Page! Feb. 24 2004
By A Customer
A pleasant and refreshing read. Sir Kingsley's mastery over the English language combined with a hilarious 'common man' story makes LUCKY JIM undoubtedly one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Follow the misadventures of Jim Dixon, the novice college professor who can't seem to find happiness or luck anywhere, until his life turns around for the better, ironically because of his own irreverance and ineptitude at the climax of this outrageously funny novel. Certainly the funniest book on my shelf-- concise, witty and timeless.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lucky You....if you read this book July 9 2004
By Westley
"Lucky Jim" is Jim Dixon - who appears to be a most unlucky man. He recently landed a university teaching job, but he's miserable. Terrible at his job, Dixon is left wondering throughout the book whether his position will be continued. In addition to his job woes, he seems to have great contempt for most everyone around him, including his neurotic girlfriend, Margaret. Things worsen when he's invited for a weekend of music at a senior professor's home and he meets the professor's son - Bertrand. A buffoonish artist, Bertrand nevertheless has an alluring girlfriend, the lovely Christine. Dixon unsurprisingly is drawn to Christine, despite her stuffy manner and seeming arrogance. Embarrassing Bertrand and stealing away Christine become him main priority. In the meantime, he still needs to prepare a lecture on "Merrie England" that will be attended by his superiors and local town dignitaries. Will he survive?
The novel is a model of dry British wit - at times laugh-out-loud hilarious. Dixon is a fantastic literary character - a cynic who personifies the scorn we all feel at times. As Amis writes about Dixon, "all his faces were designed to express rage or loathing." In addition to his cynicism, Dixon is incredibly irresponsible and engages in all sorts of mischievousness, resulting in hilarious predicaments. Nevertheless, you cannot help but root for him to succeed.
The writing is spectacular - each scene bristles with detail and nuance. In particular, Amis beautifully portrays difficult interpersonal situations frankly and accurately, replete with requisite humor. Although the book drags at times, it's a first-rate read. Most highly recommended, particularly for readers who enjoy novels set in academia.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Hilarious - a true gem.
Published 14 days ago by Rebecca
5.0 out of 5 stars The First True 'Campus Novel'
In the course of looking over the campus novels I have recently re-read Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. This is an early example of that genre, having been published in 1954 shortly... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Hector
5.0 out of 5 stars Being out of control
Jim Dixon is a man painfully aware of his loathesome existence which he in turn sparks up with booze and constant inappropriate wisecracks. Read more
Published on June 25 2004 by L. Dann
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for anyone who ever went to college...
What a treat to pick up this book whilst I was taking a break from cramming for finals. It totally put my academic career into perspective. Read more
Published on May 15 2004 by Marcus Collin
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Wit and Excellent Writing
Kingsley Amis struck gold on this one. I was quickly enthralled in the characters and the wit he displays is amazing. I laughed my head off throughout the book. Read more
Published on June 27 2003 by Agent Grant Hawley
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly hilarious book
Over the years, there have been many attempts to establish a
"Deep Inner Meaning" for "Lucky Jim," but I wouldn't pay them
much attention if I were you. Read more
Published on April 6 2003 by Geoff Puterbaugh
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the classic 20th Century British comic novel
Kingsley Amis is one of my favorite writers, and Lucky Jim (1954) of course is probably his most famous novel. Read more
Published on March 7 2003 by Richard R. Horton
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