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The British Museum Is Falling Down by David Lodge
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Jun 13, 10

bookshelves: fiction-mainstream
Read in June, 2010

Lodge, David. THE BRITISH MUSEUM IS FALLING DOWN. (1965). ****. Adam and Barbara Appleby are happily married and have three young children. They are both practising Catholics and comply with the safe and natural approach to family management, the one approved by the Church – the Rhythm Method. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked so well so far. They have been married only a little over three years. Adam is trying to complete his Ph.D. thesis before his scholarship money runs out. He only has a few more months of income left. He is petrified that Barbara might get pregnant again, so they both rigorously follow all the instructions about monitoring her body temperature, etc., etc., but neither feels very comfortable. His thesis topic, which was a commentary on all of the British essayists, was changed by his advisor to: “Very Long Sentences in the works of Three Victorian Novelists.” The research he had done so far on the essayists, particularly those of Egbert Merrymarsh, a lesser known writer of the period, was of no use. Thus far, he had not yet picked out which three Victorian writers he would concentrate on, nor had he any idea on what constituted a “very long sentence.” On top of all this, of course, was his constant worry about his wife becoming pregnant again. The story of Adam and his wife and his colleagues takes place within the space of one day – most of it spent by Adam in the Reading Room – with a gentle wit that brings a constant smile to the reader’s face while turning pages. The ideas and practices about contraception during the period when this novel was published were in turmoil. The “pill” was just being introduced and was viewed by peoples of the world as a panacea for sexual guilt, except, of course, for Catholics. As far as the Church was concerned, the only approved form of safe sex had the word “rhythm” in it. This is a satiric but light-hearted approach to the world of sex and procreation set within what just happens to be an academic setting, but certainly relatable to those of any profession who happened to be living at the time. Recommended.
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