Book Basics


Lucky Jim


Kingsley Amis




Fiction, Novel, Comic Novel


Lucky Jim is a novel by Kingsley Amis, published in 1954 by Victor Gollancz. It was Amis' first novel, and won the Somerset Maugham Award for fiction. Set sometime around 1950, Lucky Jim follows the exploits of the eponymous James Dixon, a reluctant medieval history lecturer at an unnamed provincial English university. The tone is often truculent and plain-spoken, but diction and style are wide-ranging and finely modulated. The novel pioneers the characteristic subject-matter of the time: a young man making his way in a post-war world that combines new and moribund attitudes. The book's preliminary pages quote an "old song": "Oh, lucky Jim, How I envy him...". It is supposed that Amis arrived at Jim Dixon's surname from 12 Dixon Drive, Leicester, the address of Philip Larkin from 1948 to 1950, while he was a librarian at the university. Lucky Jim is dedicated to Larkin, who helped inspire the main character, and who also contributed significantly to the structure of the novel. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. 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.

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