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Lucky Jim

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  13,627 ratings  ·  997 reviews
Kingsley Amis has written a marvelously funny novel describing the attempts of England's postwar generation to break from that country's traditional class structure. When it appeared in England, Lucky Jim provoked a heated controversy in which everyone took sides. Even W. Somerset Maugham reviewed the book, happily with great favor: "Mr. Kingsley Amis is so talented, his o...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1953)
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsGood Omens by Terry PratchettLamb by Christopher MooreMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisThe Princess Bride by William Goldman
Best Humorous Books
96th out of 2,483 books — 4,819 voters
The Secret History by Donna TarttPossession by A.S. ByattBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn WaughLucky Jim by Kingsley AmisGabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard
Favorite Novels About Professors or Academics
4th out of 258 books — 337 voters

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Community Reviews

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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 incomprehensibility.

Lucky Jim...more
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 500,000 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 there.)

There is no doubt that Kingsley Amis has a lovely deft deadly turn of phrase. Here our...more
The gold standard for seditious British humor. As an old man, Kingsley converted to a Tory welcome at all the best clubs. However, when he wrote this diamond he was a Trotskyite undergraduate who had seen combat while most of his contemporaries had not. Most of his dons at Oxford sat out the war as well. He already decided he had had enough of rules & regulations in the Army. Yet he must get on in college somehow. Most of the book depicts Kingsley's sometimes clandestine, sometimes open warf...more
Aug 07, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: be left for last on the 1001 list challenge
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books... tricked again!

What happened? I was really looking forward to reading this having become a fan of Kingsley Amis and his random assembly of hapless, oh-so-british characters after reading The Green Man (its on the 1001 books list so check it out!) and so I picked up Lucky Jim.


The trademark and original (this was his first book) Kingsley characterisations were here but this time they all seemed flattened and thinly stretched. Like that last pan cake when you're running out of batter. All of the characte...more
Sep 27, 2009 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: academics; people who sometimes secretly wish they'd become academics; drunks; hapless fuckups
Recommended to Jessica by: emily
It took me awhile to get into this book, but once I reached the second half I blew off all responsibilities and spent my entire evening lying on a pile of unfolded laundry, howling so loudly with glee I got scared that my neighbors could hear me. Yes folks, this novel literally made me LAUGH OUT LOUD. I cry at probably one out of two of the novels I finish, but I can't remember the last book that made me actually giggle.... oh yes I can, actually, it was by Martin Amis. Well, this one was funnie...more
Satanic Rituals Desk, The New York Review of Books, New York:
"Oh Mighty Belphegor, the time has come to plan NYRB's Fall 2012 lineup. What would you have us publish, Lord?"
"Beg pardon?"
"But--but, Lord! Hasn't Penguin Classics already published it?"
"But...what I mean to say, Master, is tha...more
I didn't know much about this book, but had seen it on a few "best novels of the 20th century lists." I took it on a trip to Toronto with a few other lightweight books, and read it last. There were two key aspects about the book that hooked me. The first was the wonderful cast of very memorable and slightly crazy characters. Even the protagonist -- one Jim Dixon -- was host to several quirky characteristics. Yet the author managed to stay within the bounds of belief.

The second aspect was the wri...more
Despite the title, you don’t start out thinking of Jim Dixon as particularly lucky. He was low man on the totem pole at a provincial English university where the one on top, Professor Welch, was a quirky twit of a man —- absent-minded and egocentric with an excess of class prerogative. Jim was not so lucky in love either. The woman he was with, a fellow academic, plied whatever feminine wiles were available to one with a rather plain appearance. Christine, the more striking young lady Jim met an...more
Patrick Brown
Jul 25, 2007 Patrick Brown rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anybody who likes laughing
Among the best books I've read. Funny as all hell, and exactly the sort of funny I like. This is one of the few books I've read multiple times. Every few years I get the itch to read it again.
Oct 31, 2011 Manny rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Philosophers, academics, selfish people, drunks
This book is invariably described as a comedy. Well, there's no doubt that it's often very funny, but to me it read more as a philosophical novel about the nature of love; in particular, about the question 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 more nuanced. In particular, Amis is...more
Feb 14, 2010 rachel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samuel Williams
Perhaps I'm a stuffed-shirted bore, but I didn't find Lucky Jim anywhere near as funny as it was made out to be. Granted, it did make me smile sometimes, and laugh out loud occasionally. But it doesn't seem to have much else going for it. There's wit enough, but much of the comedy is physical rather than verbal, with strong elements of farce, and would probably work better on stage or screen than in print. The language is gratingly formal and often feels mechanical, even when viewed as a parody...more
Ehh, finally finished, but only because I had to return it to the library. I had such high expectations for this novel because its description in 'Faulks on Fiction' was so interesting, but the novel itself ended up being a big pile of fail. Delightful as James Dixon's rants are, they get old pretty soon (especially since he only ever rants about how much he hates his job and how much better he is than everybody else) and nothing else happens in the novel. Absolutely nothing. It doesn't help eit...more
Jim Dixon is like a cross between Holden Caulfield and Adrian Mole. Maybe just ever so slightly smarter than either, but just as cynical, aloof, and full of troublemaking buffoonery. That type of humor hits some people in just the right way, while leaving others in the cold. Personally, I was in hysterics.

This book is quite funny if you have worked in upper levels of academia, and particularly hysterical if you have worked at a UK university. The skewering academic humor still rings true today -...more
Ever been going along in your boring little way, doing what your do, when something hits your funny bone and you blurt out a laugh. And you, only you, would have found this thing that funny. This book was exactly that for me. The first five chapters bored me to death. And then came Amis' description of waking up from a bender. "...he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again." That line. Yup. Actually the whole chapter is marvelously funny. Eventually the story would drag....more
Well, this book was picked up as part of the humour club group read, otherwise I'd probably never have thought of reading it. I'm glad I did. Its not the laugh riot it proclaims to be, but that might be that the humour is very much of the time it was written. It was enough to raise a few smiles, and the odd chortle, except the lecture scene, which did have me laughing properly.

Many people claim to dislike the main character, and I can see why, you are essentially seeing everything from his poin...more
Please tell me there is a film or television adaptation starring Rowan Atkinson in the title role. Because that is who i was picturing the whole time, what with all the faces Dixon liked to pull. Granted, not being an English person from the 1950s, some faces i had to look up, like: Edith Sitwell.
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The only Kingsley Amis book in Hallie Ephron's "1001 Books for Every Mood". She placed this under the mood category "FOR HYSTERICAL." It got four stars (the highest possible) for "literary merit"(like Gunter Grass' The Tin Drum which I had just reviewed, by the way), plus four more symbols: one for "provocative" (books that make you think or provoked controversy); another one for "influential" (books that influenced people or defined an era); the third for "humorous" (books that make you laugh);...more
Will Miller
A smart, smart, funny book. Humor always lies in precision and detail, and Amis describes physiological suffering and boredom with uncanny exactness. The novel is also well-plotted, without any clunkiness until the end (where, as with too many very funny books, the author rolls up his sleeves and gets to the work of suspense-building). His characterizations, even in the wholesale satire of Professor Welch, are complicated and rich -- except for the women. Though Margaret is intriguingly inconsis...more
A wonderful, scathing critique of academia and the seminal campus novel, Lucky Jim remains hilarious to this day. Amis tackles issues that transcend post-WWII Great Britain; the sense of helpless dissatisfaction with one's life choices, the wide gulf between what we think and how we act, and the masturbatory nature of what are considered "intellectual" pursuits are all addressed with his sparkling wit. Perhaps most enjoyable for the reader, though, is how Amis arms his Jim with a love of pranks,...more
Reading Kingley Amis's "Lucky Jim" as "a flawless comic novel" (back cover) might be a bit strange since the protagonist's name as 'Dixon' (his family name) has been generously used in the novel, that is, unconventional 'Dixon', with formal 'Mr Dixon' somewhere (p. 181), a few 'James' (p. 162, p. 185, p. 187, etc.) and 'Jim' (p. 168, p. 169, p. 171, etc.). His readers could not help wondering why not 'Jim' to conform with the novel's title. Possibly it is a unique way in addressing a colleague b...more
Aug 04, 2010 El rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: Josiah's bookshelf
Lucky Jim Dixon isn't really a lucky guy. He's a first-year medieval history professor at a fancy-pants English university, but he's made a horrible first impression that he would love to overturn. In his desperation he, of course, winds up committing one faux pas after another in cringe-worthy succession. Jim Dixon isn't the most likable guy, but he's at least relatable, mostly. His luck with women isn't much better than his luck with his colleagues and superiors. There's the lovely Margaret wh...more
Gareth Lewis
I just remember finishing this book and thinking to myself how wonderful it felt to finally have a literary hero. Jim Dixon is - if I remember correctly - a bitter and rather pathetic academic enrolled in entirely the wrong field (Medieval History). And yet he is the most intensely likeable and entertaining character I think I've ever come across in the pages of a book. I rooted for him from beginning to end, and turned the last page feeling satisfied in a very unique way.

'Dixon was alive again....more
A.J. Howard
For your consideration, the best description of a hangover in the English, NO, I say any language:

"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 the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never...more
Sir Amis has a prose style that I can only describe as buttoned-up, stilted, ungenerous, ungiving and vehemently tight-arsed (a side effect, possibly, of his setting: The English academic institution). Perhaps I am simply too uncultured to appreciate his brand of fiction. Perhaps my paltry, begrimed East African education has once again let me down. All I know, is that Lucky Jim tests the limits of endurance, insults the virtue of patience, and wears out the gifts of tolerance.

Consider the begin...more
John Pappas
Uproariously funny, at times, and at others, woeful sad -- A university professor of medieval studies, with little to no interest in his discipline, makes his hapless way among the boring stiffs that populate his backwater college town. There's little to nothing heroic about Jim Dixon, though, and his stands against the establishment are little more than immature salvos of vandalism, prank calls and graffiti. Therein lies the humor - it becomes a war of the pathetic against the pathetic, but Jim...more

I found it farcical but not very funny. It was a little difficult to understand at first but by the time of the arty party given by Dixon's boss, the Professor of History, I was pretty clued in. It may be that I didn't relate that well as I am not British, I am not involved in academic life nor is it the 1950's.
Just some thoughts: I couldn't believe how much everyone drank and smoked, it was so incredible. People did drink and smoke more in the 1950's, but still.
Funny scenes: How Dixon tried to...more
Mariam Abood
I had to read this for school and I'm glad I did, because this book was a really fun read. This book was funny, light-hearted, and a surprisingly really easy read.

What I loved the most about this book was the fact it took the piss out of the British education system, which is something I felt like I could relate to, because how the protagonist Jim felt about his education system, was the exact same way I feel about the current education system. While education may have vastly changed now with th...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Filipe Dias
Acabei de ler este livro. Um dos aspectos que me suscitou curiosidade e vontade de ler o livro foram de facto as referências como "O Livro mais divertido da segunda metade do séc. XX", e "o melhor romance cómico do séc XX".
Na verdade, esforcei-me um pouco a acreditar nestas referências conforme fui lendo a narrativa.
Jim é uma personagem deslocada em qualquer ambiente, metendo-se em situações complicadas, algumas delas bastante caricatas, e saindo delas de uma maneira cobarde e com poucos escrúpu...more
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Guardian Newspape...: June - Lucky Jim 24 27 Jun 30, 2014 07:27AM  
NYRB Classics: Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis 1 3 Oct 28, 2013 11:55AM  
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Sir Kingsley William Amis, CBE was an English novelist, poet, critic, and teacher. He wrote more than twenty novels, three collections of poetry, short stories, radio and television scripts, and books of social and literary criticism. He fathered the English novelist Martin Amis.

Kingsley Amis was born in Clapham, Wandsworth, Couty of London (now South London), England, the son of William Robert Am...more
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“If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.” 121 likes
“... all his faces were designed to express rage or loathing. Now that something had happened which really deserved a face, he had none to celebrate it with. As a kind of token, he made his Sex Life in Ancient Rome face.” 35 likes
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