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Rummage
Posted: 03 August 2017 12:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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most British cities were dumps at the time he wrote the novel

Never was a venerable and glorious culture disparaged more thoroughly, or in so few words. 

One reason for Lodge’s choice of “Rummidge” as a code name for “Birmingham” may have been the fact that an affectionate nickname for Birmingham is “Brum”.

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Posted: 03 August 2017 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Brummagem.

I remember finding Lucky Jim hilarious when I read it in my 20s; decades later, I read it again and the blatant misogyny pretty much curdled it for me.

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Posted: 03 August 2017 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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languagehat - 03 August 2017 05:50 AM

Brummagem.

I remember finding Lucky Jim hilarious when I read it in my 20s; decades later, I read it again and the blatant misogyny pretty much curdled it for me.

Yes, it does rather pervade the book.

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Posted: 03 August 2017 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I had a similar experience to languagehat: roaring with laughter when Lucky Jim was published, not impressed thirty years later. And for me, that book was Kingsley Amis’s highest point ---- from there, all his subsequent work went down, down......one of his books (don’t recall which) contains a savage diatribe against Amis’s father, whom Amis appears to have considered “common” (allowing his suspenders to be seen in public, etc.); it exposes Amis as a thoroughly unlovable (loathsome, in my book) individual.  Lodge’s books are good-humoured, and enduringly entertaining. I greatly enjoyed Paradise News, though it’s not usually extolled as one of Lodge’s greatest works.

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Posted: 03 August 2017 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I remember finding Lucky Jim hilarious when I read it in my 20s; decades later, I read it again and the blatant misogyny pretty much curdled it for me.

“Curdled” meaning what? Do you no longer appreciate the value of the art? If that is what I understand then what is your view on the plethora of meaningful classics that are considered sexist today?

Stanley Kowalski, in, A Streetcar Named Desire, is a raging chauvinistic, misogynistic, sexist, rapist Neanderthal, but I thoroughly enjoyed the play, the film and Marlon Brando’s spectacular and unparalleled performance.

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Posted: 03 August 2017 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Logophile - 03 August 2017 02:37 PM

I remember finding Lucky Jim hilarious when I read it in my 20s; decades later, I read it again and the blatant misogyny pretty much curdled it for me.

“Curdled” meaning what? Do you no longer appreciate the value of the art? If that is what I understand then what is your view on the plethora of meaningful classics that are considered sexist today?

Stanley Kowalski, in, A Streetcar Named Desire, is a raging chauvinistic, misogynistic, sexist, rapist Neanderthal, but I thoroughly enjoyed the play, the film and Marlon Brando’s spectacular and unparalleled performance.

Kowalski is not presented as a sympathetic character.

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Posted: 03 August 2017 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Kowalski is not presented as a sympathetic character.

Perhaps for some people he might be. Regardless, that’s not the point, the point has to do with any classical novel that is now considered sexist or misogynistic.

If you want a sympathetic character we have Shakespeare’s Othello, Nabokov’s characterization of Humbert Humbert in Lolita, and many more.  Lolita is a masterpiece in literature, I am not going to eschew it based on its controversial subject matter. I would be denying myself the experience of relishing in Nabokov’s beautiful language and unique writing style.

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Posted: 04 August 2017 04:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Logophile - 03 August 2017 11:19 PM

If you want a sympathetic character we have Shakespeare’s Othello, Nabokov’s characterization of Humbert Humbert in Lolita, and many more.  Lolita is a masterpiece in literature, I am not going to eschew it based on its controversial subject matter. I would be denying myself the experience of relishing in Nabokov’s beautiful language and unique writing style.

Humbert Humbert is not a sympathetic character. Although he tries, unsuccessfully, to depict himself as one, Nabokov depicts him as a monster. Part of the greatness of the novel is how Nabokov uses Humbert’s own words to damn him.

I’m not sure what the argument about Othello is as regards sympathetic characters. He is a realistic character, a flawed human. The story is about jealousy, and the play makes no attempt to excuse Othello’s killing of Desdemona. He is sympathetic because until he was infected with jealousy he was a great general and leader. He is not sympathetic because he kills his wife. The point about Lucky Jim is that the misogynistic ideas themselves are presented sympathetically, not because the novel contains them. (Or so I understand the argument; I have not read that book.)

There are many “great” works of literature that are essentially unreadable today because of their racism or misogyny. And there are many others that have unsavory elements that must be taken in stride or ignored by modern readers. My most extreme example is Richardson’s Pamela, which is about a servant woman who is kidnapped and raped by her master but despite having sinned returns to a life of virtue when she marries her rapist. At the time, the book was condemned because the character was considered a gold digger who was out to land a husband better than she deserved. It’s an extremely important work when considering the historical development of the novel as a genre, but it is extremely offensive to modern sensibilities. If I were to teach a course on the 18th century novel (highly unlikely as it’s not my specialty) I very well might assign Pamela, but I would never put it on a list of “great” novels for the general public or include it in a literature survey course (which I very well might end up teaching). Although, I highly recommend Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews, which is hilariously funny and which turns Pamela on its head by making the protagonist male.

Others include the C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, which is horribly sexist and Islamophobic. I would never give those books to a child today. I just finished re-reading Lord of the Rings, and while overall it can still be read enjoyably, there is an undercurrent of racism in that good people are depicted as fair and white, while everyone who is evil is swarthy, black, or squint-eyed. And there’s a theme of Social Darwinism and eugenics running throughout with greatness being chiefly determined by one’s bloodline.

[ Edited: 04 August 2017 05:28 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 04 August 2017 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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“Curdled” meaning what? Do you no longer appreciate the value of the art? If that is what I understand then what is your view on the plethora of meaningful classics that are considered sexist today?

Good lord, talk about a knee-jerk reaction.  You seem to think you’re putting down a lily-livered, latte-sipping progressive who faints at the mere mention of anything non-PC (and perhaps wants Michelangelo’s David to wear shorts).  I’ve gotten into many an argument with progressives who want to ban non-PC art, or at least rant about how awful it is and how no decent person would expose themselves to it.  I’ve defended Pound and Hemingway and William Burroughs and quoted Auden’s great elegy for Yeats:

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives,
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honors at their feet.

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.

In short, I am not the sensitive plant you take me for.  I simply found the blatant misogyny throughout Lucky Jim repulsive, and the humor (much of which is based on said misogyny) not humorous enough to make up for it.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to pry your copy out of your resisting hands.  You are free to enjoy whatever you like.

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Posted: 04 August 2017 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Humbert Humbert is not a sympathetic character.

That’s a subjective opinion, many readers and critics sympathized with the character of Humbert. They don’t sympathize with his actions they sympathize with his agonizingly tragic fate and unrequited love..

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Posted: 04 August 2017 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Good lord, talk about a knee-jerk reaction. 

Ditto.

I was just trying to understand your reasoning; I was not criticizing your comment. You’ve explained it, thank you.

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Posted: 04 August 2017 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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There are many “great” works of literature that are essentially unreadable today because of their racism or misogyny.

I view it differently, I read a book based on its literary value, the artistry of an author’s gift for word usage. Whether I agree with the story line is irrelevant to me.

I must refer to L.P. Hartley’s book, The Go-Between:

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

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Posted: 04 August 2017 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Yes, you are clearly the only true appreciator of literature here.  The rest of us are mere puppets of political correctness, who care nothing for literary value or artistry.  Congratulations!

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Posted: 04 August 2017 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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languagehat - 04 August 2017 12:26 PM

Yes, you are clearly the only true appreciator of literature here.  The rest of us are mere puppets of political correctness, who care nothing for literary value or artistry.  Congratulations!

Why the sarcasm?

I’m responding to Dave’s comment about works of literature being unreadable today. I have a different opinion, but I’m certainly not implying that my opinion suggests that I’m the sole arbiter of great literature.  I don’t understand why you have to be so condescending, but I’m certain you’ll come back with an equally condescending retort.

Some people refuse to read Nabokov’s Lolita, and some who do read it are terribly offended.  I read it based solely on Nabokov’s exquisite writing and if you infer that I’m suggesting a superior knowledge of literature then it’s an erroneous opinion.

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Posted: 05 August 2017 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Dave Wilton - 04 August 2017 04:48 AM


There are many “great” works of literature that are essentially unreadable today because of their racism or misogyny. And there are many others that have unsavory elements that must be taken in stride or ignored by modern readers. My most extreme example is Richardson’s Pamela, which is about a servant woman

I always try to put myself in the place of the contemporary reader. It allows one to enjoy the whole range of classic literature without being concerned about modern sensibilities. I just cannot imagine denying myself the pleasure of reading Pamela or Schopenhauer or Homer for that matter simply because of the sexist attitudes. At one fell swoop you remove half the corpus from your purview.

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