Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Garden City. 1954. Doubleday. 256 pages. Jacket art by Edward Gorey.


Jim is barely hanging on to his job at a small English university, and if he can't successfully suck up to the head of his department, he has no chance at all of staying employed. It doesn't help that he gets drunk, speaks his mind, and antagonizes all of the wrong people. One of the funniest books I have ever read!





    Jim Dixon was one of those hapless individuals who bumble through life tripping over their own good intentions, As he caromed from fiasco to triumph to cataclysm, he was sustamed only by his rare talent for creating a Face to suit every occasion. grimaces like his Mad- Peasant face or the Shot-in-the-Back face, smirks like the Evelyn Waugh or Sex-Life-in-Ancient-Rome. Jim held tenuously to a probationary instructorship at a small English university and his hopes for reappointment lay solely in his ability to butter up Professor Welch, the odious and vapid head of his department. Lurking like a neurotic thundercloud on Jim's already hazy horizon was Margaret Peel, a young woman of scant charm and suicidal tendencies, who was being harbored at the home of Professor Welch while convalescing from a surfeit of sleeping tablets taken in pique. As part of his hysterical campaign of apple polishing Jim accepted an invitation to one of Professor Welch's artistic week ends, After a French-play-reading, recorder-playing, madrigal-singing evening with a group of local intellectuals that included the professor's painter son, Bertrand, poor Jim sought sanctuary at a nearby pub. Closing time found him launched on a monumental binge, the results of which were an inconclusive but spirited attack on Margaret's virtue, an incendiary episode with his bedclothes, the formation of a new and delightfully surprising alliance with Christine Callaghan, the bearded Bertrand's current inamorata. From this point on the plot begins to congeal, with Jim caught like a shrimp in the aspic. Kingsley Amis, who wrote LUCKY JIM, has a rare wit that teeters between the hilariously nonsensical and the deeply serious, This delightful-if often quite mad-novel is his first.



Amis Kingsley Kingsley Amis was born in South London in 1922 and was educated at the City of London School and at St John’s College, Oxford, of which he is an Honorary Fellow. Between 1949 and 1963 he taught at the University College of Swansea, Princeton University and Peterhouse, Cambridge. He started his career as a poet and has continued to write in that medium ever since. His novels include LUCKY JIM (1954). TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU (1960), THE ANTI-DEATH LEAGUE (1966), ENDING UP (1974), THE ALTERATION (1976), JAKE’S THING (1978) and STANLEY AND THE WOMEN (1984). His novel, THE OLD DEVILS, won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1986. Among his other publications are NEW MAPS OF HELL, a survey of science fiction (1960), RUDYARD KIPLING AND HIS WORLD (1975) and THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION (1981). He published his COLLECTED POEMS in 1979, and has also edited THE NEW OXFORD BOOK OF LIGHT VERSE and THE FABER POPULAR RECITER. Kingsley Amis was awarded the CBE in 1981.






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