Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis contains some of the finest comic set pieces in literature. It also tells the truth about how men think.
‘Do you hate me, James?’
Dixon wanted to rush at her and tip her backwards in the chair, to make a deafening rude noise in her face, to push a bead up her nose. ‘How do you mean?’ He asked.
Laugh out loud moments
I first read Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim several decades ago. I enjoyed it immensely. This exchange struck me as summing up both how some women speak and how some men react.
Re-reading the book recently I felt it had not aged well. But it was still full of laugh-out-loud moments, including the one above.
Has it aged badly?
What I was less sure of was how likeable Kingsley Amis’s eponymous first person narrator is. Rather, he reminded me of the loathsome Kemal, in Orhan Pamuk’s scary and thought-provoking novel The Museum of Innocence. I reviewed Pamuk’s book recently on this site.
In particular, are they similar in the way they treat women?
Having had another look at both The Museum of Innocence and Lucky Jim, what is most striking is how different they are. One is a novice novelist’s first book, published in 1954, at a time when the very concept of feminism barely existed. The other is a Turkish novel, published in 2008, which seeks to deconstruct masculinity and what it means to be a man.
Both, read in the early 21st century, are disturbing if you would like to think we are making progress in matters of gender equality.
I’d welcome your views. If you’d like to see more about gender and philosophical issues, see my existential tag. This brings together numerous posts on this site. Plenty to get your teeth into.
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