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Lucky Jim

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  17,985 Ratings  ·  1,243 Reviews
Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, Lucky Jim remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently 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 ...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1954)
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Alex Counterpoint to Brendan's answer: I don't know. It's yet another book about some white guy at a university who does whatever. Save me from more clever…moreCounterpoint to Brendan's answer: I don't know. It's yet another book about some white guy at a university who does whatever. Save me from more clever books about white guys. (less)
Andrew S Hatton Uhmm - I think it is ironical - it all depends what you mean by lucky?
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96th out of 3,212 books — 6,234 voters
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3rd out of 292 books — 430 voters

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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
Paul Bryant
Apr 06, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
In this comic classic from 1954, an...oh God, I can't. I can't muster the fucks for one more book about a white guy who works at a university. I can't. I don't want any more.

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.
Sep 09, 2007 Terry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: britishhumour
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
Jr Bacdayan
May 20, 2015 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it
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 where 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 more than he thought. As if on cue, the ba ...more
Aug 07, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 27, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
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
Aug 07, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it
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
Jan 29, 2009 Wayne rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 31, 2011 Manny rated it really liked it
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
Patrick Brown
Jul 25, 2007 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing
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.
Julie Ehlers
Feb 29, 2016 Julie Ehlers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, funny, 2016
Many years ago, I briefly dated a guy whose favorite book was Lucky Jim. I'd barely heard of the novel at the time, but I made a mental note of it, and for whatever reason I've now finally gotten around to reading it. I wish I'd read it back when I was dating him, because this portrayal of a totally clueless dude who sometimes hurts people but is completely astonished to realize he's done so because he sees himself as a pure and honest soul just fumbling around would have given me quite an insig ...more
Feb 14, 2010 rachel rated it it was ok
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
Nicholas Ochiel
Oct 19, 2012 Nicholas Ochiel rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
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
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
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.
Jun 19, 2015 Apatt rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
I tend to be very unfair to comic (humorous) novels, I have this unreasonable demand that every page makes me laugh. Quite a tall order for the poor authors I think, but I can’t help it, so I generally avoid reading comic novels. I stumbled upon an audiobook of Lucky Jim on Youtube and thought I’d give it a go as it is often listed as one of the all-time great novels; my aversion to comic novels notwithstanding (freebies conquer all).

Lucky Jim is the story of James Dixon a history lecturer at a
May 21, 2012 Mmars rated it liked it
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
Jan 28, 2012 Hazel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
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
David Lentz
Jun 05, 2015 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
Jim Dixon is a testament to God's grace on this earth: he is genuinely a horrible man in nearly every respect and yet, call it grace or luck, he plays well with random chance and it generates a few good laughs. Lucky Jim is completely unworthy of all the grace which seems to come his way. Consider that he is reckless, disloyal, drunk, a fool, an idiot with women, sexist, clumsy and self-destructive beyond belief. He is the anti-hero in the tradition of Martin Amis and every JP Donleavy protagoni ...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 -
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
Daniel Simmons
Feb 15, 2015 Daniel Simmons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was pure delight to read. I could quote any of a few dozen passages that left me giggling, but I'll keep it simple and just say that Amis wins, hands-down, my personal award for Best-Ever Description Of A Hangover: "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. ...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
Jan 23, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 04, 2010 El rated it it was ok  ·  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
Dec 22, 2011 Gareth Lewis rated it it was amazing
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.
Will Miller
Dec 26, 2007 Will Miller rated it really liked it
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
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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 A
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“If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.” 1294 likes
“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.” 51 likes
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