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20th Century Lucky Jim Paperback – Jun 22 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic; New edition edition (June 22 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140186301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140186307
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 1.5 x 12.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #731,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
'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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Phoebe on March 26 2010
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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 after CP Snow's The Masters. However, its light-heartedness separates it from Snow's work and mark it as a forerunner of the more humorous and irreverent campus novels of the late 1950s to the 1970s such as Malcolm Bradbury's Eating People is Wrong and The History Man and David Lodge's Changing Places, as well as Mary Smetley's recent novel Lorenzostein: A Bizarre Tale of the Depravity of a Young Academic.

Jim Dixon, the protagonist, is a young lecturer in history in an unspecified English university in the Midlands in the early 1950s. Dixon is a relaxed sort who being put off by the cant and pretensions of his academic colleagues tends to mimic and deprecate them to himself. Much of the humour and the most endearing parts of the novel revolve around this aspect of Dixon's response to his academic setting.

Fearing that his contract will not be renewed, Dixon bows to pressure from his pompous departmental chair, Professor Welch, and agrees to give the end-of-the-term lecture on the topic "Merrie England." Unfortunately, he becomes drunk at the reception and inadvertently mimics the voice of Professor Welch, mocks him, and then passes out. He loses his job, but later wins the heart of the fair lass he has been pursuing, which is a minor plot element in the greater farce of Dixon's attitudes and behaviour. The other equally enduring episode in the novel is when Dixon becomes drunk at a party at Professor Welch's house, falls asleep while smoking, and burns his host's bedclothes.

In re-reading Lucky Jim I found the story line to be rather thin.
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By S. Barnable on April 12 2002
Format: Paperback
"Lucky Jim" is self-indulgence on Amis's part masquerading as 'satire'. His portrayals of certain characters -- namely, the selfish, incompetent Welch family -- are implausible to the point of distraction. The character of Jim Dixon would be likeable enough, if not for the unfortunate fact that Amis develops his protagonist's personality through Jim's constant mockery of his professor's family. At the book's end, the only really good thing we can say about the guy is (as 'Gore-Itchbag' puts it), "It's not that you've got the qualifications .... You haven't got the disqualifications, though, and that's much rarer." Jim is a bloke with a good head on his shoulders, but has no desire to do anything beyond drink a pint of bitter at the nearest pub and chat up the lovely Christine. Not a bad guy, really -- just not interesting enough to balance out his nasty distaste for and sophomoric pranks aimed at the Welch family.
But that's not to say the book lacks any merit. There are incidents as exciting and/or comic as in any other novel ruled by middle-class convention (one reviewer above noted the hangover scene in chapter 6; see also Jim's coup at the ball and his drunken debacle of a speech). In terms of writing, you will not find prose more clear or brisk than Mr. Amis's -- and Jim's overwhelming feelings of ill-will are somewhat excused by the sheer originality, fluidity, and wit of his turns of phrase.
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Format: Paperback
When I first read this twentieth century classic, I said to myself: "Am I missing something here? This is the work of one of England's angry young men? Now I'm one of the angry ones." It took a BBC series to bring the characters to life in a way not immediately clear to me on the written page. Putting the words on video greatly increased my sympathy for Jim.
Nonetheless, I think son Martin Amis did a funnier job with a similarly self-absorbed, self-centered slob in "Money: A suicide note". While I can see where son Martin found and derived his inspiration, I found less humor and little insight from the father.
Lucky Jim Dixon is often more loathesome than likeable. His own sense of humor -- childish practical jokes of revenge on his enemies -- is more petty and mean than inspired. He doesn't much care for his students (except perhaps the pretty girls), his colleagues, or (for better reasons) his "superiors". Reading "Lucky Jim", I pictured a young Peter O'Toole or perhaps Hugh Grant drinking and stumbling his way through a good job, more concerned about his cigarette and beer budget than anything intellectual, romantic, noble, or heroic.
Other than his contrast to the even more boorish son (Betrand) of Dixon's superior, it is still hard to understand the basis for the lucky outcome that concludes the book. Lucky for Jim, not just his students that, Dixon found another career.
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