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Lucky Jim

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Earl Lovelace Biography to Madmen and Specialists

a novel by Kingsley Amis, published in 1954. Amis's first novel established him as one of the most anarchic and irreverent comic writers of his generation; like Osborne's Jimmy Porter, his protagonist, Jim Dixon, epitomized the iconoclasm of the ‘Angry Young Men’. The novel opens as Dixon, a young lecturer in medieval history much given to pulling faces and to practical jokes, is attempting to ingratiate himself with Professor Welch, the Head of the History Department at the provincial university where they both work, in order to improve his chances of gaining security of tenure. With this aim in mind, he accepts an invitation to one of Welch's cultural weekends, which proves to be a disaster. Dixon manages to offend just about everyone he meets, including Welch's obnoxious artist son, Bertrand, and his girlfriend, Christine Callaghan. Dixon is attracted to Christine, who appears to reciprocate his interest, but is prevented from establishing the relationship on a more intimate footing by his sense of obligation towards Margaret Peel, a fellow lecturer, whose previous involvement with a man ended in her attempted suicide. A closer understanding between Dixon and the attractive Christine is precipitated, however, by a series of comic events, culminating in the end-of-term lecture he gives to the assembled university whilst under the influence of a considerable amount of alcohol. He finds himself out of a job, but Fate—in the person of Christine's wealthy art historian uncle, Julius Gore-Urquhart—intervenes, and Dixon's problems with Margaret are resolved in time for a reconciliation with Christine, in the closing pages of the book.

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