Monday, March 18, 2013

"Lucky Jim" - Kingsley Amis

First time around, decades ago, I gave up on this c. 1951 portrayal of redbrick university life because I loathed both the hero and the ambience. The novel is peopled by mediocre grotesques, the atmosphere is grubby, as provincial as the setting, and the characters' views and objectives are small-minded and trivial.

I was after more heroic stuff.

I have just read it properly and of course it's a classic. I had entirely missed the satire: the forensic dissection of a post-war rising working-class morphing into middle-classness, hopelessly trying to challenge the hegemonic Oxbridge old-boy network.

And then there is the quality of the writing: I offer the complex character of neurotic lecturer Margaret - established through masterful dialogue.

They say it's a comic novel, but its largely situational humour is really propelled by the author's fury at the idiocy encountered by his protagonist Jim Dixon.


I have just bought "Nature's Oracle" by Ullica Segerstrale. This covers the life and work of W. D. (Bill) Hamilton, the scientist who refounded Darwinism on genetics.

One of those super-influential people that no-one has ever heard of outside of biology .. until perhaps now.