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Home Middelbare School EN Uittreksels Uittreksels Kingsley Amis – Lucky Jim

Uittreksels Kingsley Amis – Lucky Jim

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Extracts English Literature
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Kingsley Amis – Lucky Jim

Victor Gollancz, London (1954)


The title is a wry comment on modern values. Jim's ultimate success is the consequence of sheer luck, not character or intelligence.


Kingsley Amis was born in London in 1922 and attended the University of Oxford. After service in World War II, Kingsley became a lecturer in English at the Unverisity College of Swansea. Lucky Jim was Kingsley's debut and a great success. Kingsley belongs to the so-called Angry Young Men, a group of disatisfied writers and poets. Other work by the author: One Fat Englishman (1963, novel), The Anti-Death League (1966, novel), Russian Hide & Seek (1980, novel) and The Old Devils (1980, novel).

The literary period:

The second part of the Twentieth century.

The genre:

Psychological novel.


Jim Dixon works as a lecturer at the history department of a provincial university. Although Jim despises his supervisor, Professor Welch, he tries to keep on good terms with him, to ensure the continuation of his job. Jim succeeds in making a fool of himself by accidentally knocking down the chair on which the Registrar was about to sit down, and critizing a book written at Welch's suggestion. Jim feels responsible for his colleague Margaret Peel, who has attempted suicide after being deserted by her boyfriend Catchpole.

Jim is asked by Professor Welch to prepare a lecture on 'Merrie England' for the College open week at the end of the term. Besides that Welch urges Jim to get an article on Medieval Shipbuilding published. Jim gets the article accepted by a new journal, but its editor is a cheat and publishes the article under his own name in another journal. The special subject Jim plans to teach is not a success either. Only one student intends to take the course.

Jim and Margaret are invited to a cultural weekend at the Welches' country house. They meet the Professor's son Bertrand, a painter, and his girlfriend Christine. Although attracted by Christine, Jim is soon bored by the party and gets drunk at the local pub. He is invited by Margaret, who seems to want to make love, but who then indignantly sends him away. He falls asleep, burning holes in the blankets. Christine helps him to cover up.

Jim discovers Betrand's only reason for his relationship with Christine is to get close to her uncle, the millionaire Julius Gore-Urguhart and that he is having an affair with Carol Goldsmith. At a ball Jim leaves with Christine and they talk for some time. Jim keeps his knowledge of Bertrand's affair to himself. Both Bertrand and Margaret are angry at Jim for leaving the party with Christine. Jim still has tea with Christine, which leads to a ridiculous fight between Bertrand and himself.

Jim's career comes to an end when his lecture on 'Merrie England' turns into a catastrophy. Due to stage-fright, fatigue and liquor, Jim collapses on the platform, just after giving an embarassing impersonation of Professor Welch and the University Board. Fortunately for Jim Gore-Urquhart offers him the well-paid job Bertrand was after. Jim meets Catchpole and learns that Margaret's suicide attempt was fake. Jim then loses his feelings of responsibility for her. Christine learns about the affair Bertrand and Carol were having and decides to start a relationship with Jim.


The story takes place during a short number of weeks, in the early 1950s.


The story is set in provincial England.

Characters and relationships:

Jim Dixon:

James Dixon is born into the lower middle-class of Northern England. He studies history at the not- so pretentious University of Leicester. He graduates in Medieval History because it sets the lowest demands for its students. Through luck he gets a job at a provincial university, but his clumsiness doesn't make him popular with the important people at the faculty. When he gets fired, his luck gets him a well-paid job as the personal secretary of millionaire Julius Gore-Urquhart.




The class distinctions between Jim Dixon and academic life, which Jim despises.


Oh, lucky Jim,

How I envy him.

Oh, lucky Jim,

How I envy him.

old song

Linguistic usage:

Amis uses a lot of talking between his characters. The style is informal.


To Philip Larkin. (poet).


The story is told through the eyes of Jim Dixon.


The book consists of 25 parts and 265 pages.

Opinion on the book:

Your opinion!


It doesn't matter if the whole world believes in you, if you don't. So why care if no one does when only you need to believe in yourself?

Het maakt niet uit of de hele wereld in je gelooft, wanneer jij dat niet doet. Waarom zou je je dan druk maken wanneer je alleen in jezelf hoeft te geloven?

Ravindra Ramnares