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20th Century Lucky Jim Paperback – Jul 1 1992

4.8 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Paperback, Jul 1 1992
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic; New edition edition (July 1 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140186301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140186307
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,261,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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

“I was recommended [Kinglsey Amis’ Lucky Jim] when I was a teenager trying to figure out how to start reading 'serious' books. Great recommendation, because on the surface it’s nothing of the sort, but it is brilliant.” —Hugh Dancy, T: The New York Times Style Magazine
“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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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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
I tried very much to like this book. Despite the winning, you'd think, combination of a delightful setting - stuffy academia, lampooned - and a bumbling, cursed protagonist in Jim Dixon, this is a horrible, disappointing book. True, there are several worthwhile, really very funny bits, though far too few; these are buried in unending, unrewarding, often plainly aggravating prose. Thank heaven for the dialogue's expert rescue of the sluggish pace. I admire what Amis Sr. was after, and did come to care somewhat for certain of his characters. But I just didn't find Dixon sympathetic, despite wanting and expecting to. Writer Kate Christensen filed this title under "Loser Lit", guaranteed to make you feel better about your own situation, whatever it may be. How surprising, then, that it should wreak havoc with my disposition, leaving me sour from start to finish.
Not at all the book I wanted it to be, sadly, and I really was rooting for it.
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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
What to make of 'Lucky Jim' (and its title, whose ironic status is in doubt until the end)? As a frothy, comic satire of post-war British academia, it fares quite well. Amis' depictions of Old Man Welch as a staggering boob and a loathsome bore are spot-on. He gets the details just right here. Same goes for Welch's infuriatingly pretentious family (foppish painter son and overbearing wife). As for the title character, Mr. Dixon's interior dialogues are hilarious, when contrasted with the lines he actually says aloud. He lives quite an entertaining and vitriolic Walter-Mitty-style inner life. Some of the punishments he fantasizes about cooking up for Welch are delightful in their venom.
The problem I have with the book is that none of it made a lick of difference. Sure, it is nearly forty years since its first publication, but I just can't help feeling that this terrain has been done with more relevance by someone like Robertson Davies (see his 'Cornish Trilogy'). His pretentious academics actually manage to be fully formed characters, instead of the crudely drawn sketches Amis depicts here.
That being said, the prose is magnificent. What else could you expect from an Amis?
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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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