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How Far Can You Go?
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How Far Can You Go?

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  788 ratings  ·  37 reviews
David Lodge looks at the effect of the permissive society on the wider Catholic Church during the 50s, 60s and 70s. The novel centres on the lives of Polly, Dennis, Adrian and Angela as they comically come to terms with changing mores and their beliefs.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published September 24th 1987 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published 1980)
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Mark Mcphee
"So they stood upon the shores of Faith and felt the old dogmas and certainties ebbing away rapidly under their feet and between their toes, sapping the foundations upon which they stood, a sensation both agreeably stimulating and slightly unnerving. For we all like to believe, do we not, if only in stories? People who find religious belief absurd are often upset if a novelist breaks the illusion of reality he has created. Our friends had started life with too many beliefs - the penalty of a Cat ...more
Trin
This 1980 novel by Lodge (whom you may have noticed I've been reading a lot of and enjoying this year) follows a group of young English Catholics over a period of about 20 years, enabling us to see the ways their religion affects their lives (and their lives affect their religion), particularly in the shadow of Vatican II. I'm not Catholic, so partly this book was entertaining from an anthropological standpoint. Lodge, on the other hand, is Catholic, so you know that he's drawing at least somewh ...more
Dorina
Great book offering an incredible (funny) insight into the Catholic religion and the way it changed in the past century. I’m curious how a Catholic reader would find it (funny? offensive? true?) but for a non-Catholic one it is definitely an interesting read and a learning experience.
Bogdan
There is one major problem with this novel: when you try to create a dramatic effect after over 100 pages of what appeared to be a satirical novel you end up diminishing the drama and, if you are not a talented writer, even risking up to end up in parody. For Lodge, it is not a problem to avoid the parody, but still the dramatic aspect of the novel fades up as it is surrounded by a lot of humor.

The humor still helps the novel in some way, as it makes it probably more easily accessible for a wide
...more
Stela
A-l citi pe Lodge nu e niciodata atît de simplu pe cît pare la prima vedere. Ironia si verva povestirii te pot impiedica uneori sa treci de primele niveluri de lectura si sa uiti, mult mai usor decit in cazul altor scriitori dublati de critici literari, ca stie sa mînuiasca toate uneltele narative, ca un artificiu literar nu e niciodata folosit empiric, ca exista niste sfori care manevreaza personajele si un subtil deus ex machina care conduce actiunea spre un deznodamînt.
Numai ca, de data aceas
...more
Iuliana
Loved the book! Could not get enough of D. Lodge's humorous, ironical and sometimes cynical approach of Catholicism, in particular, and religion (or is it faith?)in general, viewed, reviewed, analyzed, scrutinized, criticized while dealing with the torments his characters are dealing with, trying to cope in a world of religious beliefs and practices which not only restrict, but sometimes crush the freedom and nature of human spirit as it develops itself, trying to move from the stages of curiosi ...more
Ruth
I don't know what I was expecting when I took this down from the shelf. I was looking for something short, something I could finish before the next assignment came through, and I had some vague memory of having read a couple of David Lodge's books before and enjoyed them. However, that may have been because they were the only English books in a Francophile's library.

I was not expecting to have the author address me directly. I was not expecting a cast of characters whose soul purpose was to for
...more
Sharon
Captivating when read as a novel and intriguing when looked at as a historical view on the Catholic Church, Lodge’s How Far Can You Go? follows seven friends from their lives nearing the end of convent school right through to middle age. Looking at the issues facing their young lives of sex before marriage and then the problems associated with the Catholic church not condoning the contraceptive pill, these characters are entering a confusing world made only the more so by their religion. As we t ...more
Sara
This is less a novel than a case study on the changes in the Catholic church in the 1960s and 70s. There is a large cast of characters and they're all stock characters - each one seems designed to tell us about a specific way that the church changed or affected people's lives. I would have been more interested in a novel that focused on a few people and delved more deeply into their inner lives and struggles with the church and how to live their lives. A novel can be personal, political, or a co ...more
Vicki
Light, frothy with some interesting ideas to ponder upon, and an interesting narrative style that breaks the fourth wall but ultimately feels a little dated, like a photo of your daring uncle eating a pair of brown flared trousers in the late 1970s.
Joel Gomes
O David Lodge habituou-me a bons livros e este não foi excepção. Este é um bom livro, mas achei que lhe faltava qualquer coisa. Está muito bem escrito, com um vasto leque de personagens, todas elas bem definidas. O que é que faltou? Um plot. Se isto fosse uma biografia de um grupo de pessoas estaria tudo bem, mas sendo um romance faltou algo. Habitualmente, os livros de David Lodge lêm-se depressa porque as histórias são cativantes e a sua escrita é simples, directa e rápida; no caso de How Far ...more
Josh
David Lodge can write witheringly funny and pointed satires, and this one more or less falls into that category; it's a book about how sexual ethics intersect with out faith lives, our marriages, our friendships, our feelings of guilt and self-respect, and much more-- but more than anything else, it's a fascinating critique of the Catholic Church and its claims to authority. The book can be rather dry at times, and some of its lengthy discussions of Catholic teaching make it feel more like an es ...more
Witch'sCat
I'm not quite sure where to begin. There was surprisingly a lot of sex considering the book is a bout a Catholic group but all in all a great read. I found the switches in narration great; it somehow resembled most 90s movies where the movie ends with a "how they all ended up" section. Great stuff!
Isobel
Absolutely loved this - brilliant combination of humour and history.
Jennie
A book so good, I missed my bus stop on more than one occasion because I was too engrossed.

Lodge explores a group of Catholic college students and the priest that leads them both in school and then traces their lives afterwards. Caught in a changing world of cultural upheaval, they are often left asking the question of how far CAN you go before being dashed off to hell?

Hilarious, this will make you a Lodge fan for life.
Fashion and Textile Museum
A Catholic by birth, David Lodge deploys his erudite wit in the study of changing attitudes towards Catholicism, seen through the lives of a group of university graduates, and their struggles with marriage, contraception, adultery, illness, grief and, most important of all, the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council and the 1968 papal encyclical against contraception, Humanae Vitae.

By Sarah Vine
Headley Mist
Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes the author deliberately dives out of the frame to remind us of that this is just a book. What i like abouth the author is the way he treats his characters - with respect and understanding, without judgements and justifications.

Not what I would call a typical novel by Lodge, but highly recommended to those interested in religion and ethnography.
Jeff
I have the American version of this book, titled "Souls and Bodies".

This book may be more interesting to Catholic readers than the general public. It really does go into a lot of detail about Catholic thought and policy during the decades in question.

Not as humorous as Small World, but not as much of a downer as Therapy, definitely worth reading if you like Lodge.
Margherita Dolcevita
Meno divertente dei precedenti che ho letto di Lodge e più ricco di riflessioni e di digressioni, in questo caso sulla morale cattolica e di come ha cercato di evolversi dagli anni '50 ai '70, con tutte le ipocrisie e i dubbi del clero ma anche dei credenti. L'ho letto volentieri e trovato molto bello, forse una pecca è nell'eccessivo numero di personaggi, si rischia di confonderli.
Tatkins
How far can you go, was the first Lodge novel that I read. It really gave me a sense of what it must have been like growing up as a Catholic in England during the 1950's. Like other Lodge works, this one is a touching story of how young Roman Catholics dealt with their religion, desires, relationships and how they deal with the 2nd Vatican Council's stance on birth control.
Lorenzo Berardi
Glittering Genius.
It's not about the characters. It's about the situation and the sober and yet hilarious analysis of a bunch of pretty successful but rather confused British Catholics between the 1950s and the 1970s.

The pages in which the whole strict Catholic education mechanism is compared to the Snakes and Ladders boardgame are simply perfect.
linnea
Those silly Catholics and their silly rules about sex . . . oh wait . . . A book about trying to figure out where to draw the line, follows eight Catholic kids through college and then through life. It's an interesting look at trying to be Catholic through the 50's, 60's, and 70's in England, and therefore at trying to be Christian.
Nathan Willard
As Lodge himself says, this one isn't a comedic novel, exactly. His probing examination of what it means to be any number of types of young and then aging Catholics in the era of Vatican 2 and afterward serves as an exploration of the moral nether regions between faith and modernity.
George
I have read a number of David Lodge books and have always enjoyed them. They generally have some humour interspersed with some interesting facts. In this case I learned about Catholics in the 1970s in Britain and the issues facing married couples and catholic priests.
Alex
i loved it. lodge is brilliant, he is so subtle in his text. and in this particular novel, the changes that took place between the '60 and the late '70 are well put.
Andy
Heavier stuff than other Lodge books. Also called, "Souls and Bodies," it grapples with Catholicism and follows about a dozen characters.
Elizabeth
Published in the UK as How Far Can You Go?, in case you come across it under another title. One of my favorite Lodge novels.
Mike
This book is dated now, but it's hilarious and, incidentally, destroys the Catholic faith and basically all Christian belief.
Richard
A pretty entertaining novel, and a very fascinating insight into the intricacies of the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic worldview.
Marcia Witteman
The characters were a little older than I was at this time. Found it pretty acurate, very funny and a little sad.
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Professor David Lodge is a graduate and Honorary Fellow of University College London. He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, where he taught from 1960 until 1987, when he retired to write full-time.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, was Chairman of the Judges for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989, and is the author of numerous works of li
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“So they stood upon the shores of Faith and felt the old dogmas and certainties ebbing away rapidly under their feet and between their toes, sapping the foundations upon which they stood, a sensation both agreeably stilmulating and sightly unnerving” 1 likes
“Our friends started life with too many beliefs -- the penalty of a Catholic upbringing. They were weighted down with beliefs, useless answers to non-questions. to work their way back to the fundamental ones -- what can we know? why is there anything at all? why not nothing? what may we hope? why are we here? what is it all about? -- they had to dismantle all that apparatus of superfluous belief and discard it piece by piece. But in matters of belief...it is nice question how far you can go in this process without throwing out something vital.” 1 likes
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