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Lucky Jim

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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  19,878 Ratings  ·  1,415 Reviews
Kingsley Amis's witty campus novel, Lucky Jim is a comedy that skewers the hypocrisies and vanities of 1950s academic life. This Penguin Modern Classics edition contains an introduction by David Lodge.

Jim Dixon has accidentally fallen into a job at one of Britain's new red brick universities. A moderately successful future in the History Department beckons - as long as Jim
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Paperback, 251 pages
Published 1992 by Penguin (first published 1954)
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Brendan Basically for all the same reasons you're complaining about. I bet you don't like "A Confederacy of Dunces," either.

I feel a little sorry for readers…more
Basically for all the same reasons you're complaining about. I bet you don't like "A Confederacy of Dunces," either.

I feel a little sorry for readers who are preoccupied with "likability" in fictional characters. In this case, though, I can't imagine what kind of monstrous puritan could possess a heart so stony as to dislike Jim Dixon. Of course he's crude and self-obsessed, not to mention a drunk of impressive stamina. He's also a class hero at war with bourgeois pretension. He's the nerd who gets the girl in the end.(less)
Andrew S Hatton Uhmm - I think it is ironical - it all depends what you mean by lucky?

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Glenn Russell
Jan 06, 2017 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


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 Jim

British 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 edu
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Tamra
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
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Paul Bryant
Jun 16, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
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
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Fabian
Nov 04, 2014 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum." (64)

Oh, that inconceivable wit! I love English literature for its whimsy & elegance combined. "Lucky Jim" happens to charm the pants off readers. It is "Brideshead Revisited"-lite, K. Amis being an obvious disciple of 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 d
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Alex
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.
Jr Bacdayan
Oct 31, 2014 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 more than he thought. As if on cue, the ban ...more
Terry
Sep 09, 2007 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Manny
Sep 28, 2009 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve
Jun 06, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Shovelmonkey1
Jul 31, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: be left for last on the 1001 list challenge
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books... tricked again!
Meh.

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.

Meh.

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
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Jessica
Aug 12, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jacob
Satanic Rituals Desk, The New York Review of Books, New York:
"TREMBLE, MORTAL! THOU HAS SUMMONED BELPHEGOR, LORD OF THE OPENING, PRINCE OF HELL. WHAT WOULDST THOU ASK OF THE DEMON OF DISCOVERY?"
"Oh Mighty Belphegor, the time has come to plan NYRB's Fall 2012 lineup. What would you have us publish, Lord?"
"LUCKY JIM."
"Beg pardon?"
"LUCKY JIM. KINGSLEY AMIS. ALWAYS WANTED TO READ IT."
"But--but, Lord! Hasn't Penguin Classics already published it?"
"I CARE NOT."
"But...what I mean to say, Master, is tha
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Wayne
Jan 29, 2009 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Julie Ehlers
Jan 09, 2016 Julie Ehlers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, funny
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
Patrick Brown
Jul 07, 2007 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Eleanor
I can't imagine how I have missed reading this hilarious book until now. I keep remembering some of the situations and laughing out loud all over again.

James Dixon lurches from one comic disaster to the next, and yet somehow it all comes right for him at the end - which of course is what we want for him.

Favourite moments have to include the matter of the bedclothes and the table while staying overnight at his Professor's home, and of course the wonderful lecture on "Merrie England" towards the e
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rachel
Feb 01, 2010 rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samuel Williams
Aug 07, 2011 Samuel Williams rated it it was ok
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
David Lentz
Jul 12, 2012 David Lentz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apatt
Jun 16, 2015 Apatt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Andreea
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
Marieke
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.
Daphne
Mar 03, 2016 Daphne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-audio, quest, uno2016
Sometimes I come upon a 'classic' like this...read it...and then question everything I thought I valued in good literature. Maybe it's me? Is it my taste and literary palate that sucks? I couldn't help but to constantly compare it to works by Wodehouse, and it came up lacking in every way.

The worst was probably when a female character went into 'hysterics' because Jim is an asshole. The solution? Another dude comes into the room and slaps her multiple times across the face then makes her drink
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Renée Paule
Jan 08, 2017 Renée Paule rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I get free time, I will re-read this wonderful book.
Hazel
Jan 01, 2012 Hazel rated it liked it
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
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Mmars
May 20, 2012 Mmars rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ana Carvalheira
Feb 08, 2017 Ana Carvalheira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gosto muito de Kingsley Amis. Quem disse que as gerações se renovam, recriando novas perspetivas mais atualizadas, novas abordagens das quais se esperam um refinamento do sangue, do gosto e até mesmo do talento, talvez se tenha enganado. Daquilo que li, paciente e muitas vezes dolorosamente de Martin Amis, só me fez aumentar a admiração pelo seu progenitor. Porque a sua versatilidade é enorme (“O Homem Verde” surge completamente despropositado em relação a este “A Sorte de Jim”, nem parece ter s ...more
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
Cindy
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 -
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Daniel Simmons
Jan 18, 2015 Daniel Simmons rated it really liked it
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
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Madison Mega-Mara...: # 33 Lucky Jim by Kingsly Amis 1 3 May 12, 2015 12:20PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis 1 12 Feb 15, 2015 07:24PM  
Guardian Newspape...: June - Lucky Jim 24 33 Jun 30, 2014 07:27AM  
NYRB Classics: Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis 1 5 Oct 28, 2013 11:55AM  
St. Anne's Readin...: Week 5 3 4 Jul 01, 2013 09:56AM  
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St. Anne's Readin...: Week Three 1 1 Jun 17, 2013 12:12PM  
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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.” 1332 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.” 55 likes
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