Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lucky Jim

I've seen Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis crop up on various "must read" or "best 100 novels of the century" lists, and heralded as the seminal 1950s British campus novel. It's the story of Jim Dixon, a fledgling history professor who reluctantly tries to gain a permanent position he doesn't want at a college he can't stand. He fumbles his way through the politics of academia with often disastrous results.

While I liked this novel and got more invested in the story as it went along, it wasn't as hilariously madcap as I had expected it to be. I can see how it's meant to spoof the academic world and there are certainly laugh-out-loud funny parts, like watching Dixon's bumble through various schemes to get himself out of awkward situations. Despite that, I felt like I kept seeing a more serious character study of Dixon beneath all that. Maybe I'm missing something from that time period or from the British perspective.

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