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  • Paperback
  • 251
  • Lucky Jim
  • Kingsley Amis
  • English
  • 04 May 2017
  • 9780140186307

10 thoughts on “Lucky Jim

  1. says:

    Jim Dixon's reflection on old man Welch the chair of the History Department at the provincial college where the novel is set How had he become Professor of History even at a place like this? By published works? No By extra good teaching? No in italics― Kingsley Amis Lucky JimBritish literary critic and novelist David Lodge notes how those of his generation who came of age in England in the 1950s men and women mostly from lower middle income families having their first real taste of educational and professional opportunity felt than a little unease with the attitudes and values of the prevailing cultural and social establishment Novels like Lucky Jim really spoke to them young Jim Dixon enters the world of academia and polite society and detests all the airs posturing snootiness arrogance and pretense Judging from the reviews and essays penned by British readers in the last few years this Kingsley Amis novel continues to speak with powerAs an American the novel also spoke to me with power; however the power and also the humor is signature British – subtle and understated Well subtle and understated when it is not being Monty Pythonesue that is For examples we need only turn to the first pages The opening scene has Dixon strolling the campus with Professor Welch chair of the history department the man who will approve or disapprove Dixon’s continuing within the department beyond the current term Welsh is fussing over a local reporter’s write up of a concert where he Welsh played the recorder accompanied by piano The newspaper said “flute and piano” Welch pedantically details the difference between a flute and a recorder as if he is David Munrow as if his recorder playing and the concert amounted to a historical event in the world of twentieth century performance Hey Welch – nobody gives a fig And a recorder is a fipple flute so the reporter’s mistake is hardly a monumental blunderDixon and Welch continue walking together across the lawn in front of a college building “To look at but not only to look at they resembled some kind of variety act Welch tall and weedy with limp whitening hair Dixon on the short side fair and round faced with an unusual breadth of shoulder that had never been accompanied by any special physical strength or skill” In addition to providing the reader with telling physical detail likening the two men to a variety act initiates a recurrent theme carried throughout the novel very much in keeping with English society nearly everyone moves and speaks as if they are acting on a stage; in other words acculturated to play a prescribed set role Incidentally I’ve heard than once how the British are such natural actors and actresses since they are trained to act beginning as children And this play acting really heightens the humor especially as Jim Dixon seethes with rage as he follows the script and fueled by alcohol seethes with even rage as he rebels against the whole stage production Very British; very funnyAh rebellion Jim Dixon is a rebel with a cause his cause being life free of hypocrisy and stupidity But alas much of his rebellion is a silent rebellion We are treated to Jim’s running commentary of what he would like to say and like to do as in after listening to of Welch’s prattle “He pretended to himself that he’d pick up his professor round the waist sueeze the furry grey blue waistcoat against him to expel the breath run heavily with him up the steps along the corridor to the Staff Cloakroom and plunge the too small feet in their capless shoes into a lavatory basin pulling the plug once twice and again stuffing the mouth with toilet paper” Again a bit later Jim hops in the car next to Welch as the professor drives home from the college and Welch presses him on the prospects of his history article being published Dixon’s reply is cut short when Welch nearly causes a multi vehicle crash “Dixon thought on the whole glad at this escape felt at the same time that the conversation would have been appropriately rounded off by Welch’s death” And this is only for starters – many are the zinger launched at the world of academe No wonder Amis received a rather cool reception from the English faculty at Cambridge in the years following the publication of Lucky JimThe humor escalates as Jim Dixon finds himself in a number of increasingly farcical and compromising situations usually brought on in part by his own prankster antics and drinking at such events as a stay including obligatory singing at the home of the Welches a college sponsored dance and finally delivering a reuired public history lecture to a full house Actually the events prior to and during Jim’s grand finale lecture are the stuff of Monty Python All told the exuisite timing of Amis’ language and the string of outrageous uagmires Jim must face make for one comic novelHowever it must be noted the humor cuts deeper than the comic British novels of writers like P G Wodehouse A prime example is Jim’s skirmish with Welch’s son Bertrand a self styled amateur artist Events and emotions move apace until Dixon has developed his own relationship with Bertrand’s girlfriend Christine Bertrand becomes progressively infuriated at this unwanted development and at one point snarls into Dixon’s face “Just get this straight in your so called mind When I see something I want I go for it I don’t allow people of your sort to stand in my way That’s what you’re leaving out of account I’m having Christine because it’s my right Do you understand that? If I’m after something I don’t care what I do to make sure that I get it” Oh my goodness a member of the wealthy privileged class portrayed as a viscous condescending power hungry scum Lastly what would a novel by Kingsley Amis be without young ladies? Lucky Jim features two such ladies Margaret and the above mentioned Christine Margaret teaches history at the college is rather plain and uses emotional blackmail to tighten her grip on menfolk; Christine is both attractive and connected to an uncle in high places To find out just how far Margaret will go with her blackmail and how lucky Jim Dixon will be with Christine and her uncle you will have to read this comic jewel for yourselfKingsley Amis in 1954 age 32 year of publication of Lucky JimJim upon waking up with a hangover Would anyone doubt Kingsley Amis mined his own first hand experience? Dixon was alive again Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow gracious wandering from the halls of sleep but a summary forcible ejection He lay sprawled too wicked to move spewed up like a broken spider crab on the tarry shingle of morning The light did him harm but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved having done it once never to move his eyeballs again A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night and then as its mausoleum During the night too he'd somehow been on a cross country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police He felt bad”


  2. says:

    Lucky Jim reminds me of The Beatles I like the Beatles I enjoy the Beatles I can recite all the reasons why The Beatles are supposed to be the greatest most culturally relevant rock band in history And yet As a person who grew up post Beatles and who has heard The Beatles ALL THE TIME her entire life the difference between the impact that I am told The Beatles should have on me and the actual impact that The Beatles have on me is a huge yawning chasm of incomprehensibilityLucky Jim reminds me of The BeatlesFor years I've heard that this novel is the funniest of the 20th century possibly of all time It's had a huge impact on some of my favorite writers and comedians It sets the standard for satires of class issues And I did like it I enjoyed it It was amusing And yet There's huge yawning Beatles shaped chasm between my expectations of enjoyment of Lucky Jim and my actual enjoyment of Lucky Jim And maybe it's just that I'm too young too American to appreciate how radical Lucky Jim was when it was published Maybe like The Beatles you just had to be there in order to really grasp the full impact of the work


  3. says:

    This is a book packed with humor on every page The blurbs tell us it is “Regarded by many as the finest and funniest comic novel of the twentieth century” I’ll give examples but let me first tell you a bit about the story Jim Dixon is a lecturer on a part time appointment He’s under pressure to get something published and when he finds his title “It was a perfect title in that it crystallized the article’s niggling mindlessness it’s funereal parade of yawn enforcing facts the pseudo light it threw upon non problems”Jim isn’t a good looking guy He’s short and broad shouldered but looks odd because he’s so skinny His doddering supervising professor essentially has Alzheimer’s and all kinds of uirks The professor has asked Dixon to take care of an unattractive female professor who lives in the professor’s house That leads to a pseudo romantic relationship and no end of problems and entanglements with the woman and his professor’s elderly wife The professor’s son comes to visit for a time and Dixon makes the mistake of going after the son’s woman friend even though she’s out of his class The title of the book gives us a theme Joseph Conrad wrote “It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck” Dixon down on his luck understands better than most because lucky people tend to attribute their good luck to hard work their great abilities and so on He’s tells us than once the simple truism that we might forget “It was one argument to support his theory that nice things are nicer than nasty ones”“All that could logically be said was that Christine was lucky to look so nice It was luck you needed all along; with just a little luck he’d had been able to switch his life on to a momentarily adjoining track a track destined to swing aside at once away from his own” “To write things down as luck wasn’t the same as writing them off as nonexistent or in some way beneath consideration there was no end to the way in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones It had been luck too that had freed him And now he badly needed another dose of luck If it came he might yet prove to be of use to somebody”Dixon is bright enough to realize that he often brings on his own bad luck Smoking in bed gives us a hilarious episode and his excessive drinking gives us several others Some examples of the humor on every page of the book “Bertrand Dixon had to admit was uite presentable in evening clothes and to say of him now that he looked like an artist of some sort would have been true without being too offensive”“There was a small golden emblem on his tie resembling some heraldic device or other but proving on closer scrutiny to be congealed egg yolk” “When she turned and faced him to dance at the edge of the floor he found it hard to believe that she was really going to let him touch her or that the men near them wouldn’t spontaneously intervene to prevent him”Of a couple dancing “She permanently resembled a horse he only when he laughed“He reflected that the Arab proverb urging this kind of policy was incomplete to ‘take what you want and pay for it’ it should add ‘which is better than being forced to take what you don’t want and paying for that’”“Yes I know women are all dead keen on marrying men they don’t much like”His landlady at the boarding house serves saggy cornflakes pallid fried eggs bright red bacon explosive toast and diuretic coffee Of one of the other boarders he tells us “As so often especially in the mornings his demeanor seemed to imply that he was unacuainted with the other two and had at the moment no intention of striking up any sort of relation with them”An academic novel that’s a hilarious read and a break from serious stuff Photo of Oxford University from oxacukThe author from hyperallegiccom


  4. says:

    Honesty is the best policy And it’s the reason for Lucky Jim’s LUCK He has a knack of endearing folks to himself by it Yes he’s candid; but he always takes shortcutsIn 1971 I started coasting at university I had won two faculty awards and just decided to rest on my laurels a bit BIG MISTAKE My junior and senior years yielded meagre results Twice lucky and twice shyI got my degree by the skin of my teeth in the end because I too took shortcutsI guess it was primarily because of two extracurricular novels I read that Sopho year Waugh’s Decline and Fall and this oneWaugh’s moral was religious and preachy Amis’ novel was neither and it had a POSITIVE message Both were outrageously funny books about COASTING university students like me who survivedI preferred Lucky Jim it taught me to be bright and positive no matter how bad things got And Amis gave me license to Fake It a littleFunny isn’t it how kids take novelists as their main mentors no matter how dire the conseuences may be Or fictional characters like Holden Caulfield or even Duddy Kravitz Too bad for them if they never know better Our gripes tend to cast anchor at such conveniently Self aggrandizing literary rest stops Too bad for us if that leads to the depressive WormiesAt school though getting back to my own fraud I could fake it reasonably well I sang in the choir of the university choral society and I even faked that I could never read music unless my fingers were on a keyboard that’s how I oriented myselfBut later there was gonna be all Heck to pay for it allWhen later on I had to prepare budgetary estimates and forecasts of cash flow at work I had to have all my ducks lined up and strictly accounted for or I’d be OUTTA THEREAnd you can bet the Big Cheeses let me know that Stress citySo Jim’s only still a kid and he’s honest Well and good so far But when eventually he’s married managing the household budget and holding down a full time job on top of all that during his career and a social misfit to boot as I was he’ll have to be PRETTY DARNED GOODNo coastingGood AT it and a GOOD PERSON at heartYes this is a funny novel and Amis’ bestBut if you don’t want to pay the piper later DON‘T imitate Jim and just try to fake it through life Take my word for itI learned the HARD way


  5. says:

    I laughed once – page 243 and otherwise I barely smiled but I could see exactly where I would have been roaring and splurting had I been one of the 500000 people who think this novel is one of the all time hootiest of hoots Wiki Christopher Hitchens described it as the funniest book of the second half of the 20th century and Toby Young has judged it the best comic novel of the 20th century So thereThere is no doubt that Kingsley Amis has a lovely deft deadly turn of phrase Here our young medieval history lecturer is talking with his aggravating old fool of a professor An expression of unhappiness was beginning to settle on Welch’s small eyed face Dixon was at first pleased to see this evidence that Welch’s mind could still be reached from the outsideNow as Dixon had been half expecting all along Welch produced his handkerchief It was clear that he was about to blow his nose This was usually horrible if only because it drew unwilling attention to Welch’s nose itself a large open pored tetrahedronLucky Jim is a rom com but comedy is always only the top level of what’s going on in comedy and just under the surface of Jim’s vicious daydreams of stabbing the professor and vomiting on his dreadful son there is a very human very sad and desperate picture of a guy who’s found himself in a job he hates and in a vague not uite romantic relationship with a woman he only very faintly likes but feels obligated to and anyway it’s not like there are any other female candidates around His days are thus filled with a mixture of toadying fawning apologizing being hedged in hemmed in feeling awkward wrong footed socially inferior and desperate to pass his probationary year so he can look forward to a career composed of toadying and fawning and lectures he dreads having to write His situation is grisly and I think uite common then and now In a future decade he’d be ingesting pharmaceuticals for sure but all he has to alleviate this inverted Vesuvius of bubbling suppression is beer and cigarettes this being the very late 1940s; and so we get pages of extraordinarily detailed description of the pleasures and ravages of beer and fags The women of every decade up to the last one have had to accept smooching from men reeking of beer and smoking I guess people can get used to pretty much anythingA rom com has to have obstacles for the temporary thwarting of the young lovers and these are often in the form of arrogant buffoons like Malvolio in Twelfth Night or Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones’ Diary or Pete in Shaun of the Dead Lucky Jim has two the bearded painter Bertrand and the “neurotic” Margaret Bertrand is a stock figure of slapstick fun and Margaret is far and away the most interesting because most disturbing character in the book She’s a 30 something spinster and by means of a suicide attempt has emotionally blackmailed our hero Jim into thinking she’s too fragile for him to suggest that actually they aren’t involved at all they just drift around social functions together as mates do The book in the form of Jim’s musings is uite explicit about looksism here – if only she was the slightest bit attractive there might be something in it for Jim What a pity it was he thought that she wasn’t better looking that she didn’t read articles in the three halfpenny press that told you what lipstick went with what natural colouring With twenty per cent of what she lacked in these ways she’d never have run into any of her appalling difficulties the vices and morbidities bred of loneliness would have remained safely dormant until old ageWell that’s not what you expect from a beloved cosy comic novel Amis places this character at the centre of the novel next to Jim and he says well – he was lucky in the end and she wasn’t Yes bad luck that she didn’t have the wherewithal to accentuate even the meagre resources granted her by her bad luck face and figure but you can’t waste your life sticking around trying to make such hopeless cases feel better So just be grateful that you're not like her Life’s for living Hey ho The fate of Margaret casts a retrospective coldness over the whole novel and the glaring nasty attempt by Amis to say in the end oh well she brought all her troubles down on her own head is unpleasant and a transparent attempt to blame the victim to allow the romcom couple to glow off into a cuddly future This book was discussed on a recent BBC Radio 4 programme “A Good Read” not to be confused with a certain website I recommend this programme to anyone who can listen via the BBC website The two women and one man didn’t find any of this especially objectionable just mentioned that this novel is very much “of its time” and grooved on the verbal humour which I agree lies around in heaps The bit which did make me laugh was an anguished bus journey where Jim is in true romcom denouement style trying to make it to the train station in time before the gorgeous Christine legs it to London and all these wheezy old dears and farm vehicles slow the bus down to a crawl Far ahead an emaciated brown hand appeared from the lorry's cab and made a writhing beckoning movement The driver of the bus ignored this invitation in favour of drawing to a gradual halt by a bus stop outside a row of thatched cottages The foreshortened bulks of two old women dressed in black waited until the bus was uenched of all motion before clutching each other and edging with sidelong caution out of Dixon's view towards the platform – the exact same scene pops up in the so very much funnier Trainspotting where Renton and his pals are on a bus on their way to score and again old farts keep getting on and off and Renton’s thoughts you may imagine even lurid and violent than Jim Dixon’s So if you want to make me laugh with your novel a scene where old people are getting slowly on and off a bus while the hero impotently gnaws the back of the seat in front will do the trick every timeThis was Kingsley's first novel and that's got to be impressive In 1954 he was the one to watch all right


  6. says:

    His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night and then as its mausoleum 64Oh that inconceivable wit I love English literature generally for its whimsy elegance combined fLucky Jim happens to charm the pants off readers It is Brideshead Revisited lite K Amis being an obvious disciple of E Waugh and let me tell you there is no better master than this English satirist It's a romcom in which every single guy can relate to inglorious James Dixon I certainly did especially to all the departmental drama ie student versus teacher other such vapid rivalriesin the perilous voyage to MFA whose truest intentions are good like any modern man's rather selfish in spite of his constant tumbles and missteps in this engrossing comedy subtitled a rollicking misadventureNovels about the life academic like the best of them in fact Rules of Attraction The Secret History The Marriage Plot Joe College my personal fave The Art of Fielding are rare and to be dearly treasured This one totally ranks highly among those aforementioned


  7. says:

    to celebrate labor day and fall and back to school here is a list of campus fiction stuff that i put togetherTwo facts that are not related but seem as though they ought to be1 Autumn is my favorite season2 I love both campus novels and campus thrillersWhat’s not to love brisk weather fresh notebooks hungry impressionable minds maybe a murder or two So to celebrate the return of fall and all its academic possibilities here is a back to school reading list for you 52 adult fiction titles winnowed down through the same process of blood sweat tears alcohol and research as defined my own years of academic rigorIt’s a “something for everyone” bridge mix list of classic and contemporary titles in a variety of treatments traditional campus novels having a laugh at pompous academics nostalgic coming of age school days comedies about the hopeless bureaucratic tangle of academia and politics plus some murder and light cannibalismWhether you are going off to school yourself or are the proud parents of students whether you remember your long past school days with nostalgia or relief there are bound to be a few books here with something to teach you and you don't even have to get out of your pajamas for this classhttpwwwrifflebookscomlist24096


  8. says:

    In this comic classic from 1954 anoh God I can't I can't muster the fucks for one book about a white guy who works at a university I can't I don't want any Here is the plot this white guy I don't know and then whatever Here's how I felt about it I felt ennui I don't care put me in a chair by the window put on soft music let me die


  9. says:

    The party was a handsome piece of flatulent sobriety JR noted to himself Glitters fluttered all around bandy shanks of a particularly smelly vegetation filled the bodacious hall No doubt the decorators in their sheer genius prioritized the visceral over the nasal It was going to be one of those nights when he would have to pretend that he loved the smell of urine which was the scent the cursed broccoli were emitting He would have to endure much than he thought As if on cue the band started playing a pop song he despised Unlucky sonofabitch he cursed under his breath Then he saw them the wretched little group he had come here for The group consisted of Dixon a louse; Bertrand an asshole; Christine an angel; Carol whatever; Margaret whatever; and Gore Something a damn hard name to remember He started towards them when whack a tray full of champagne engulfed him Maconochie serving as waiter had somehow collided with him Fortunately he was mostly splashed in the face and not in his suit Cursing Maconochie who was full of apologies he divined it a waste of time to skin the bastard so he moved on Handkerchief in face he approached the group ‘Damn shame those wasted champagne it would’ve been nice to have a lick at them’ mused BertrandHe wanted to gouge the man’s eyes the nerve of him to feel sorry for the champagne he thought but instead he said smiling ‘You can have a lick at my face if you want You might get a drop or two out of me some sweat’s sure to come along with it though’ ‘Oh thank you very much but I’d have to decline your tempting offer’ Bertrand said this with a little smileJR whiffed a faint scent of a sexual advance in the overall effect of the remark and the smile Was this Bertrand character flirting with him? he laughed ‘So what do you guys think of the new novel?’ he started Nobody minded his uestion He had to find a better opening Of course they wouldn’t simply bite He would have to work for it He moved to a spot beside Gore Something and said “We’ve met a few days before remember?” Gore Something replied “Ahh yes I remember you what was the name again sorry?” “J R JR Bacdayan”“So the letters J and R are both spelled individually without making use of their sound? Hmm a curious name A curious name indeed I would have thought that a name with two letters would be easy to say like Jo or Ty Easy to pronounce no? But to have to spell two letters ahh such hard work Shall I call you Jay for convenience sake if you don’t mind?” Gore Something said this with a bemused tone JR was a bit indifferent towards Gore Something at first he was a cheeky fellow but he didn’t look ueer which was good though his name did suggest imbecility But all this indifference towards Gore Something developed into supreme hatred when the latter gave his little solilouy about JR’s name ‘The indolent fool’ he thought to himself ‘he doesn’t have the gall to pronounce my name does he? Well I won’t have it I’ll make the limy bastard pay I’ll make him spell the entire bloody alphabet’ JR said in a loud booming voice ‘Yes I do mind sir I’d like to be called my name I don’t like this lazy business about you sir’Gore Something looked wounded ‘I was merely suggesting old boy You needn’t have to call me lazy It was all for efficiency’s sake see All for efficiency’ ‘Do you not see the irony my good sir?’ JR beamed ‘You make everyone call you Mr Gore Uruhart’ Thank God he recalled the ridiculous name ‘A damn hard name to remember much less say sir And yet you can’t pronounce a name as simple as JR?’ He ended this by giving a little smile he hoped to dear God it wasn’t interpreted as a sexual advance‘Ha ha’ laughed Gore Uruhart He was growing large beads of sweat on his gigantic amphibious nose ‘I see you are uite the funny man Mr JR A good joke A good joke indeed’JR got a bit confused he wasn’t joking At the very least he was partially glad that he didn’t offend Gore Uruhart even if it was just what he intended to do He would need the large nosed bastard later on ‘Why so serious darling?’ chimed Margaret‘Oh I wasn’t it’s as Mr Gore Uruhart said It was a joke nothing ’ JR felt a bit thankful towards this distraction A uick reconnaissance of Margaret suggested she was very drunk and very unrestrained Not a very good combination considered JR He would have to stay away from this trap not that it was very hard The poor woman wore mismatched colors and looked like the wretched offspring of a rainbow and a flamingo He even noticed a bit of lipstick on one of her incisors He flashed her a winning smile Now this was unmistakably a sexual advance he thought ‘Mr JR what do you do exactly?’ inuired Carol rather out of the blue He felt a wave of nausea hit him ‘Why did this woman want to know? She’s one of them smart alecks I bet Anyway anyone named Carol must love Christmas and people who love Christmas are the worst God he could picture her sitting under a Christmas tree singing a bloody carol’ He shuddered with the thought‘I write book reviews Madame’ he said with a detectable trace of apprehension in his voice ‘Oh so you like books don’t you?’ Carol said this with a surging confidence as if such an original statement was never uttered before‘Oh I abhor them I’d rather read filthy magazines’ affable contempt pouring out of his voice now ‘I see’ replied CarolIt took all he had not to break her neck No she didn’t see not even close He gave her a slight nod Christine started laughing‘My my Mr JR you shouldn’t play with Carol like that’ she said smiling ‘She’s had a bit to drink so you musn’t take this obtuseness against her’‘I wouldn’t dream of it’ he smiled back He felt himself staring at her His affection for this woman was genuine She was perhaps the most beautiful creature he’d ever laid eyes on Luscious blonde hair penetrating blue eyes thick lips perfect nose and high cheekbones on a perfectly symmetrical head and curvy body he felt himself considering the word love This was confirmed by his sweat glands for he was now sweating rather profusely in the armpit area He tried to maneuver a fake head tilt to disguise his attempt to smell it His attempt failed though he could see Christine trying hard to suppress a laugh She moved beside him and whispered ‘I’m sure it doesn’t smell that bad let me have a whiff’ He felt his heart stop He couldn’t move His body had failed him ‘Dd dod don’t not’ He stuttered She slid a finger on his left armpit rubbed it on her wrist and smelled it like she was smelling perfume He was horrified ‘I could get used to this smell’ she smiled at him He recognized something in her look This was his chance he was going to roll the dice He wished for luck He slid closer to Christine and kissed her She didn’t push him away‘Oyy what do you think you’re doing to my girl’ shouted Dixon‘I’m not your girl Jim I’m my own girl I’ll kiss whoever I damn please’ Christine looked uite flushed but the anger in her voice was discernible‘I’ll have a go at you you wanker’ cried Dixon He jumped towards JR and tried to land a punch but he was uite drunk and had double vision He ended up fisting the air JR took the opportunity and shouted at Dixon ‘What do you think about the novel Jim?’Dixon cried ‘What? Are you trying to be funny with your novel mate?’‘It’s your novel’ JR laughed at him‘Trying to be funny are we chap? I’m bloody livid I’ll wreck you and your nan and all this funny business’ Dixon moved towards him JR took a swing and hit him perfectly at the bridge of his nose Dixon fell moaning and didn’t get up The group was looking at them too drunk to care They were smiling Bertrand even shouted ‘well done fellow’ Somehow the party went on like nothing of the fighting sort had happened People were still dancing and cavorting like toads on a pond ‘What an age’ JR thought Tired of all this atrocity and fallaciousness he finally took his leave Christine with him and headed for the exit Walking towards the door Christine around his arm he whispered to her ‘it’s my turn to be lucky’She kissed him on the cheek and they disappeared into the night


  10. says:

    This book is invariably described as a comedy Well there's no doubt that it's often very funny but to me it read as a philosophical novel about the nature of love; in particular about the uestion of whether it is better in romantic matters to behave selfishly or unselfishly As you will see in my review of Atlas Shrugged this is a subject I find very interesting Kingsley Amis's position is in some ways not that far from Ayn Rand's but it's far nuanced In particular Amis is clear that he thinks selfishness is only a virtue in romantic contexts not in general I liked the following passage Jim as usual not uite sober has been asked by Christine the girl of his dreams if she should marry a man whom Dixon loathes'Are you in love with him?''I don't much care for that word' she said as if rebuking a foul mouthed tradesman'Why not?''Because I don't know what it means'He gave a uiet yell 'Oh don't say that; no don't say that It's a word you must often have come across in conversation and literature Are you going to tell me it sends you flying to the dictionary every time? Of course you're not I suppose you mean it's purely personal sorry got to get the jargon right purely subjective''Well it is isn't it?''Yes that's right You talk as though it's the only thing that is If you can tell me whether you like greengages or not you can tell me whether you love Bertrand or not if you want to tell me that is''You're still making it much too simple All I can really say is that I'm pretty sure I was in love with Bertrand a little while ago and now I'm rather less sure That up and down business doesn't happen with greengages; that's the difference''Not with greengages agreed But what about rhubarb eh? What about rhubarb? Ever since my mother stopped forcing me to eat it rhubarb and I have been conducting a relationship that can swing between love and hatred every time we meet''That's all very well Jim The trouble with love is that it gets you in such a state you can't look at your own feelings dispassionately''That would be a good thing if you could do it then?''Why of course'He gave another uiet yell this time some distance above middle C 'You've got a long way to go if you don't mind me saying so even though you are nice By all means view your own feelings dispassionately if you feel you ought to but that's nothing to do with deciding whether Christ you're in love Deciding that's no different from the greengages business What is difficult and this time you really do need this dispassionate rubbish is deciding what to do about being in love if you are whether you can stick the person you love enough to marry them and so on''Why that's exactly what I've been saying in different words''Words change the thing and anyway the whole procedure's different People get themselves all steamed up about whether they're in love or not and can't work it out and their decisions go all to pot It's happening every day They ought to realise that the love part's perfectly easy; the hard part is the working out not about love but about what they're going to do The difference is that they can get their brains going on that instead of taking the sound of the word love as a signal for switching them off They can get somewhere instead of indulging in a sort of orgy of self catechising about how you know you're in love and what love is anyway and all the rest of it You don't ask yourself what greengages are or how you know whether you like them or not do you? Right?'


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Lucky Jim

Regarded by many as the finest and funniest comic novel of the twentieth century Lucky Jim remains as trenchant withering and elouently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1954 This is the story of Jim Dixon a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that “there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones” Kingsley Am Lucky Jim reminds me of The Beatles I like the Beatles I enjoy the Beatles I can recite all the reasons why The Beatles are supposed to be the greatest most culturally relevant rock band in history And yet As a person who grew up post Beatles and who has heard The Beatles ALL THE TIME her entire life the difference between the impact that I am told The Beatles should have on me and the actual impact that The Beatles have on me is a huge yawning chasm of incomprehensibilityLucky Jim reminds me of The BeatlesFor years I've heard that this novel is the funniest of the 20th century possibly of all time It's had a huge impact on some of my favorite writers and comedians It sets the standard for satires of class issues And I did like it I enjoyed it It was amusing And yet There's huge yawning Beatles shaped chasm between my expectations of enjoyment of Lucky Jim and my actual enjoyment of Lucky Jim And maybe it's just that I'm too young too American to appreciate how radical Lucky Jim was when it was published Maybe like The Beatles you just had to be there in order to really grasp the full impact of the work

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Is’s scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores cranks frauds and neurotics with whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancyMore than just a merciless satire of cloistered college life and stuffy postwar manners Lucky Jim is an attack on the forces of boredom whatever form they may take and a wor Honesty is the best policy And it’s the reason for Lucky Jim’s LUCK He has a knack of endearing folks to himself by it Yes he’s candid; but he always takes shortcutsIn 1971 I started coasting at university I had won two faculty awards and just decided to rest on my laurels a bit BIG MISTAKE My junior and senior years yielded meagre results Twice lucky and twice shyI got my degree by the skin of my teeth in the end because I too took shortcutsI guess it was primarily because of two extracurricular novels I read that Sopho year Waugh’s Decline and Fall and this oneWaugh’s moral was religious and preachy Amis’ novel was neither and it had a POSITIVE message Both were outrageously funny books about COASTING university students like me who survivedI preferred Lucky Jim it taught me to be bright and positive no matter how bad things got And Amis gave me license to Fake It a littleFunny isn’t it how kids take novelists as their main mentors no matter how dire the conseuences may be Or fictional characters like Holden Caulfield or even Duddy Kravitz Too bad for them if they never know better Our gripes tend to cast anchor at such conveniently Self aggrandizing literary rest stops Too bad for us if that leads to the depressive WormiesAt school though getting back to my own fraud I could fake it reasonably well I sang in the choir of the university choral society and I even faked that I could never read music unless my fingers were on a keyboard that’s how I oriented myselfBut later there was gonna be all Heck to pay for it allWhen later on I had to prepare budgetary estimates and forecasts of cash flow at work I had to have all my ducks lined up and strictly accounted for or I’d be OUTTA THEREAnd you can bet the Big Cheeses let me know that Stress citySo Jim’s only still a kid and he’s honest Well and good so far But when eventually he’s married managing the household budget and holding down a full time job on top of all that during his career and a social misfit to boot as I was he’ll have to be PRETTY DARNED GOODNo coastingGood AT it and a GOOD PERSON at heartYes this is a funny novel and Amis’ bestBut if you don’t want to pay the piper later DON‘T imitate Jim and just try to fake it through life Take my word for itI learned the HARD way

Free read Lucky Jim

K of art that at once distills and extends an entire tradition of English comic writing from Fielding and Dickens through Wodehouse and Waugh As Christopher Hitchens has written “If you can picture Bertie or Jeeves being capable of actual malice and simultaneously imagine Evelyn Waugh forgetting about original sin you have the combination of innocence and experience that makes this short romp so imperishable” The party was a handsome piece of flatulent sobriety JR noted to himself Glitters fluttered all around bandy shanks of a particularly smelly vegetation filled the bodacious hall No doubt the decorators in their sheer genius prioritized the visceral over the nasal It was going to be one of those nights when he would have to pretend that he loved the smell of urine which was the scent the cursed broccoli were emitting He would have to endure much than he thought As if on cue the band started playing a pop song he despised Unlucky sonofabitch he cursed under his breath Then he saw them the wretched little group he had come here for The group consisted of Dixon a louse; Bertrand an asshole; Christine an angel; Carol whatever; Margaret whatever; and Gore Something a damn hard name to remember He started towards them when whack a tray full of champagne engulfed him Maconochie serving as waiter had somehow collided with him Fortunately he was mostly splashed in the face and not in his suit Cursing Maconochie who was full of apologies he divined it a waste of time to skin the bastard so he moved on Handkerchief in face he approached the group ‘Damn shame those wasted champagne it would’ve been nice to have a lick at them’ mused BertrandHe wanted to gouge the man’s eyes the nerve of him to feel sorry for the champagne he thought but instead he said smiling ‘You can have a lick at my face if you want You might get a drop or two out of me some sweat’s sure to come along with it though’ ‘Oh thank you very much but I’d have to decline your tempting offer’ Bertrand said this with a little smileJR whiffed a faint scent of a sexual advance in the overall effect of the remark and the smile Was this Bertrand character flirting with him? he laughed ‘So what do you guys think of the new novel?’ he started Nobody minded his uestion He had to find a better opening Of course they wouldn’t simply bite He would have to work for it He moved to a spot beside Gore Something and said “We’ve met a few days before remember?” Gore Something replied “Ahh yes I remember you what was the name again sorry?” “J R JR Bacdayan”“So the letters J and R are both spelled individually without making use of their sound? Hmm a curious name A curious name indeed I would have thought that a name with two letters would be easy to say like Jo or Ty Easy to pronounce no? But to have to spell two letters ahh such hard work Shall I call you Jay for convenience sake if you don’t mind?” Gore Something said this with a bemused tone JR was a bit indifferent towards Gore Something at first he was a cheeky fellow but he didn’t look ueer which was good though his name did suggest imbecility But all this indifference towards Gore Something developed into supreme hatred when the latter gave his little solilouy about JR’s name ‘The indolent fool’ he thought to himself ‘he doesn’t have the gall to pronounce my name does he? Well I won’t have it I’ll make the limy bastard pay I’ll make him spell the entire bloody alphabet’ JR said in a loud booming voice ‘Yes I do mind sir I’d like to be called my name I don’t like this lazy business about you sir’Gore Something looked wounded ‘I was merely suggesting old boy You needn’t have to call me lazy It was all for efficiency’s sake see All for efficiency’ ‘Do you not see the irony my good sir?’ JR beamed ‘You make everyone call you Mr Gore Uruhart’ Thank God he recalled the ridiculous name ‘A damn hard name to remember much less say sir And yet you can’t pronounce a name as simple as JR?’ He ended this by giving a little smile he hoped to dear God it wasn’t interpreted as a sexual advance‘Ha ha’ laughed Gore Uruhart He was growing large beads of sweat on his gigantic amphibious nose ‘I see you are uite the funny man Mr JR A good joke A good joke indeed’JR got a bit confused he wasn’t joking At the very least he was partially glad that he didn’t offend Gore Uruhart even if it was just what he intended to do He would need the large nosed bastard later on ‘Why so serious darling?’ chimed Margaret‘Oh I wasn’t it’s as Mr Gore Uruhart said It was a joke nothing ’ JR felt a bit thankful towards this distraction A uick reconnaissance of Margaret suggested she was very drunk and very unrestrained Not a very good combination considered JR He would have to stay away from this trap not that it was very hard The poor woman wore mismatched colors and looked like the wretched offspring of a rainbow and a flamingo He even noticed a bit of lipstick on one of her incisors He flashed her a winning smile Now this was unmistakably a sexual advance he thought ‘Mr JR what do you do exactly?’ inuired Carol rather out of the blue He felt a wave of nausea hit him ‘Why did this woman want to know? She’s one of them smart alecks I bet Anyway anyone named Carol must love Christmas and people who love Christmas are the worst God he could picture her sitting under a Christmas tree singing a bloody carol’ He shuddered with the thought‘I write book reviews Madame’ he said with a detectable trace of apprehension in his voice ‘Oh so you like books don’t you?’ Carol said this with a surging confidence as if such an original statement was never uttered before‘Oh I abhor them I’d rather read filthy magazines’ affable contempt pouring out of his voice now ‘I see’ replied CarolIt took all he had not to break her neck No she didn’t see not even close He gave her a slight nod Christine started laughing‘My my Mr JR you shouldn’t play with Carol like that’ she said smiling ‘She’s had a bit to drink so you musn’t take this obtuseness against her’‘I wouldn’t dream of it’ he smiled back He felt himself staring at her His affection for this woman was genuine She was perhaps the most beautiful creature he’d ever laid eyes on Luscious blonde hair penetrating blue eyes thick lips perfect nose and high cheekbones on a perfectly symmetrical head and curvy body he felt himself considering the word love This was confirmed by his sweat glands for he was now sweating rather profusely in the armpit area He tried to maneuver a fake head tilt to disguise his attempt to smell it His attempt failed though he could see Christine trying hard to suppress a laugh She moved beside him and whispered ‘I’m sure it doesn’t smell that bad let me have a whiff’ He felt his heart stop He couldn’t move His body had failed him ‘Dd dod don’t not’ He stuttered She slid a finger on his left armpit rubbed it on her wrist and smelled it like she was smelling perfume He was horrified ‘I could get used to this smell’ she smiled at him He recognized something in her look This was his chance he was going to roll the dice He wished for luck He slid closer to Christine and kissed her She didn’t push him away‘Oyy what do you think you’re doing to my girl’ shouted Dixon‘I’m not your girl Jim I’m my own girl I’ll kiss whoever I damn please’ Christine looked uite flushed but the anger in her voice was discernible‘I’ll have a go at you you wanker’ cried Dixon He jumped towards JR and tried to land a punch but he was uite drunk and had double vision He ended up fisting the air JR took the opportunity and shouted at Dixon ‘What do you think about the novel Jim?’Dixon cried ‘What? Are you trying to be funny with your novel mate?’‘It’s your novel’ JR laughed at him‘Trying to be funny are we chap? I’m bloody livid I’ll wreck you and your nan and all this funny business’ Dixon moved towards him JR took a swing and hit him perfectly at the bridge of his nose Dixon fell moaning and didn’t get up The group was looking at them too drunk to care They were smiling Bertrand even shouted ‘well done fellow’ Somehow the party went on like nothing of the fighting sort had happened People were still dancing and cavorting like toads on a pond ‘What an age’ JR thought Tired of all this atrocity and fallaciousness he finally took his leave Christine with him and headed for the exit Walking towards the door Christine around his arm he whispered to her ‘it’s my turn to be lucky’She kissed him on the cheek and they disappeared into the night


About the Author: Kingsley Amis

Martin AmisKingsley Amis was born in Clapham Wandsworth County of London now South London England the son of William Robert Amis a mustard manufacturer's clerk He began his education at the City of London School and went up to St John's College Oxford April to read English; it was there that he met Philip Larkin with whom he formed the most important friendship of his life After only a year he was called up for Army service in July After serving as a lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals in the Second World War Amis returned to Oxford in October to complete his degree Although he worked hard and got a first in English in he had by then decided to give much of his time to writingPen names.