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Thinks . . .

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,641 ratings  ·  150 reviews
David Lodge's novels have earned comparisons to those of John Updike and Philip Roth and established him as "a cult figure on both sides of the Atlantic" (The New York Times). Thinks . . . , his witty new novel about secret infidelities and the nature of consciousness, unfolds in the alternating voices of Ralph Messenger, director of the Centre for Cognitive Science at the ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 27th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 2001)
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,641 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Victor Eustáquio
It has everything to be a fantastic book: interesting characters, a good plot, at least at the beginning, smart dialogues and a lot of promises. However, David Lodge seems to be so clever that his book becomes nothing else than an unbearable and pretentious big pain in the ass
Kirsty Darbyshire

This was a good book to read whilst feeling under the weather because I know I'll never catch all the subtexts and references even if I read it when I was running on full power. David Lodge always gives me a feeling that I'm missing half of what's going on, but it doesn't really matter because he still delivers a very readable story full of laughs, wit and tragedies.

This is another tale of English University life - he's written several before - this one is set at the (fictional) University of G

May 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, contemporary
I was somewhat puzzled by the reviews and hesitated whether to read this book at all. So glad I did give it a chance! The story, set at a fictitious University of Gloucester, combines personal life of the main characters with insights into cognitive science and literature. It is built around an affair between a charming womanizer Ralph Messenger, who is in charge of the Center for Cognitive Science, and a recently widowed novelist Helen Reed, who teaches creative writing at the university for on ...more
Robert Day
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, excellent, excellent! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all it contained. The people and the story and the knowledge and the ending and the manner of the writing all fill me with a kind of drunken glee. While I read, I delighted in the way I seemed to be able to follow the thought processes of the writer as he made the characters talk in such a way that revealed the learning he has on the various knowledges in the story: consciousness, cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, c ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
What a huge disappointment. Perhaps if I had happened to have a whole canister of salt with me when I saw an advertisement for this book, or when I read the flap, or when I perused some online buzz, I wouldn't have felt so duped. Just bored.

This novel is purported to be about the nature of consciousness and how we never truly know what anyone else is thinking, which should have serious implications for the construction of subjectivity in a novel and could result in illuminating effects were thes
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
A kind of annoying academic novel about a visiting novelist who works through her grief while engaging in an affair with a married cognitive scientist. It wasn't bad for a summer read, though it did have what I identify as a particular kind of semi-macho Baby Boomer smugness about it, where the masculine voice is uncritically chauvinist and sex-obsessed, while the feminine voice is apologetically so. As a romance novel it's not bad--it's just not the thought experiment it would like to be.
Jul 26, 2007 rated it liked it
David Lodge shows off his skill in writing in an entertaining story delving into consciousness and academic manners. The book is kept interesting by the constant shift in point of view (including shift in writing styles!) and timing as the story unfolds.

By far the most enjoyable part of the read, in my opinion, were the literary parodies done by Helen's writing students dealing with some of the cognitive science issues brought up in the story.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Just re-read this and loved it as much as I did the first time. David Lodge seems to me like a true genius, perhaps because he can make his incredibly clever and erudite novels accessible to ordinary readers. It's a travesty that he's never been awarded a Booker. This book is fascinating in the way it introduces concepts like Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. It is about witty characters who I immediately cared about, it moves along at a cracking pace with heaps of intrigue (and sex ...more
Irena Atanasoska
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really like this book, as my stars will show. I loved the sophisticated conversations between the characters in comparison to their inner thoughts. I loved how the professor is portrayed as a sex addict or of that sort and on the other side is a sweet almost naive Helen. It's beautifully written, especially the dialogs that switch from literature to science and most of the time they entwine. One thing bothered me, though, is that the book is over too quickly, there is almost nothing about the ...more
Julia Schulz
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I am prudish, I will admit. The last thing I want to read about is filth, but unfortunately both this and "Small World" focuses so heavily on sex that I am forced to put the books down part way through. Perhaps I have been reading too much 19th century literature, though I am sure that a campus novel is capable of academic escapades and romps besides the details of who is banging, how they are banging, (or have banged) or who wants to bang who. I am thinking that this author is clever; but that ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I think David Lodge is incapable of writing a bad novel. This is the type of guy who's basically incapable of shitting anything less than fully formed, coherent narratives.

Sadly I find much of his writing, this book included, to be facile. It's not shit. Or if it's shit, it's fully formed, coherent shit. I just get the impression that he chooses not to exert himself fully, chooses not to delve into his characters like he could, like he should.

It's also difficult not to take some of his male ch
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A David Lodge novel is guaranteed to be a satisfying read, and Thinks... is no exception. A campus novel and a love story, this is also a fascinating examination of human consciousness. The two main protagonists are Ralph Messenger, a philandering academic, head of the Cognitive Studies department at the University of Gloucester, and Helen Reed, a recently bereaved novelist, appointed to teach creative writing for a semester as a stand in for the usual teacher who is away on study leave. The sto ...more
Mary Anne
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Millichap
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I know David Lodge best as a satirical novelist with a well-honed focus on the peccadilloes of British academia. In this novel, which traces the affair between a scholar of consciousness and a recently widowed novelist visiting his university, his approach to the narrative is more ambitious than in other work of his I'm familiar with. In particular, Ralph Messenger, the scholar of consciousness, tapes his stream of consciousness at a number of key points by speaking into a recorder, with the "tr ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lodge's campus novels (at least the three now I've read) always feature smart, yet emotionally messy Americans and Brits thrown together with lots of sexual tension heaped on for good measure. This novel's set within the context of the fictional University of Gloucester. Middle-aged Ralph Messenger is the campus star, director of the school's prestigious Centre for Cognitive Science. Married to a monied American, he is a known philanderer and has his sights set on recently widowed visiting profe ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
A disapointing read. Didn't like the characters. The modern novel, according to the novelist main character, is about consciousness. But, really, if this is the barometer, it is about empty sex. The other main character is a cognitive scientist who claims truth is foremost in his life, but lies and cheats on his wife to no end. I even found the way the cognitive science aspect was treated, though surfacely entertaining, was rather flat and didactic. Plus, I unfortunately learned that kissing is ...more
Abby Damen
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was mind-blowing. David Lodge is an amazing writer! I loved to find out how much research he did concerning consciousness, and a bunch of other topics. The tension between the heart and the head, art and science, consciousness and sub-consciousness... were referenced throughout the entire book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the arguments that Helen and Richard had together.

Fascinating read, very entertaining and engaging. It also seemed to further articulate some of those commonly co
Oct 29, 2009 rated it liked it
"Thinks" is a meditation on the nature of consciousness from two contrasting points of view: from the third person and from the first person. Appropriately enough, half of this book is written from a mechanical third-person point of view and the other half is written from a very intimate, first-person point of view. Furthermore, the scientific, third person point of view is embodied by Ralph Messenger, a philosopher/cognitive scientist, and the first person point of view is embodied by Helen, a ...more
Nov 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I love me some David Lodge, but this wasn't my favorite. (Though it's more of a 3 1/2 star kind of book.) The novel has strange pacing: sooooo slow in the middle, rapid-quick in the last 30 pages. I enjoyed the combination of dictations, writing exercises, multiple POV narration, etc., though the idea that "everyone is thinking different thoughts!" was hammered home a bit too hard. I admire how, like in many of his novels, Lodge did ample research on other fields of academia (in this case, cogni ...more
Teagan Potter
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found this book interesting in the way that it was written, but the positives stop there. I thought the characters were unrelatable, nasty, and downright cruel- each and every one of them. Additionally, the book was not advertised as an erotic novel, but much of the book focused on the characters' sex life in great detail. David Lodge was attempting to be funny, and in moments, it worked. However, for the great majority of the novel, the narrators just came off as pretentious assholes.
Mary K
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Well... it's a gimmicky disservice to the fields of cognitive science and literature, and a disappointingly enjoyable read at that. It's one of the thousands of exceedingly decent books that float around the WaPo book review section, garnering equally forgettable praise. It's the dust that literature sloughs off and a handbook of cute, semi-distinguished party topics that pop science feeds upon.
Oct 29, 2016 marked it as not-finished  ·  review of another edition
Some nice writing (reminiscent of Carol Shields) and an initially interesting premise of intellectual sparring between a university science professor and a visiting novelist/creative writing lecturer about the nature of consciousness. However, I found the overriding theme of infidelity and the will-they/won't-they suspense tiresome, flipped through to get the answer, and stopped reading.
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should have probably given five stars to the book since I do think it's a great example of a "stream of consciousness " novel. For me, it was a bit harder to follow so I lost interest now and then, so I wouldn't recommend it to people who are impatient. It has a good story, a lot on consciousness and adultery, and strong discussions. High quality book for those who know to appreciate it.
Nick Jacob
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining book. No guffaws but lots of interesting research on cognitive science thrown in with the usual academic affairs. He’s better on men’s fantasies than womens’ I’d say though. No surprise there I suppose.
Susan Ackland
Oct 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no
I enjoyed David Lodge's "Nice Work" immensely and was looking forward to reading "Thinks." It opens with a long interior monologue on what it means to think. Very clever, intricate, and boring -- at least to me. With so many books and so little time, I stopped before I really got started,
Nov 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
I loved and devoured about four or five novels by David Lodge, so bought this, when I saw it in the bookshop. And never got past the first 50 pages or so. Couldn't get into it. -- might not be the fault of the book, though.
Christian Schwoerke
Mar 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I had read at least two of Lodge’s books in the past, Trading Places and Small World, and I enjoyed them both, especially as I was back in graduate school in the late 80’s, and I was struggling with concepts behind deconstructionism and structuralism as they applied to the literature I’d always read and loved in my more naive critical fashion. However, after reading Thinks, which went down very smoothly, I begin to think that Lodge’s concerns are more with the characters’ couplings and interacti ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Since I like Lodge's critical works, I had high hopes for this novel, purportedly about cognition and deception, but which is really a seduction narrative with a witty veneer of academic politics, jargon, and broad sweeping ideas on cognitive science that are the more interesting parts of a textbook on the subject.

Sure, this was at least more than a romance novel, but throughout the reading, I could sense the intentionality of the plot choices, the shifting (but gimicky) POV, and character trai
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finally got around to reading this a little late. I always enjoy Lodge's style (and content) and the fact that this is now quite dated in terms of many of the issues (and technology) doesn't really hamper the enjoyment. However, there are times when Lodge is clearly just trying to bash out certain viewpoints and explanations of theories without paying proper attention to the narrative (you can tell he's just itching to impart his knowledge, and it jars considerably, which is a shame). A good fun ...more
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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
“ big depression. For six months I languished at the bottom of a deep hole, like the shaft of a waterless well, while kindly, puzzled people...peered down at me over the rim of the parapet and tried to cheer me up, or lowered drugs and advice in a bucket.” 4 likes
“I can see myself acquiring bad habits from living here. My little house is equipped with a TV, and I've watched a lot this week. At home I seldom switch on before 'The Nine O'Clock News', and usually it's later than that, for an arts documentary or a film. This week I've been watching TV while eating my solitary dinner, and leaving it on afterwards because when I switched it off the silence seemed so deathly, and I can't stand listening to music on my tinny transistor radio. I've seen all kinds of programmes I never normally watch, soaps and sitcoms and police series, consuming them steadily and indiscriminately like a child eating its way through a bag of mixed sweets. For simple mindless distraction you can't beat early evening television. No scene lasts more than thirty seconds, and the stories jump from character so fast that you hardly notice how cardboard-thin they are.” 0 likes
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