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AbstractKingsley Amis’ satire on academic life, Lucky Jim (1954) was published at a time of almost unprecedented and (as yet) never repeated social upheaval in Britain. Clement Attlee’s landslide Labour victory in 1945 had led to the introduction of a comprehensive program of reform, including the introduction of the National Health Service, child benefit and old age pensions, an increase in the amount of social housing and the nationalisation of several of Britain’s industries. His government also presided over the decolonisation of a large part of the British Empire. This transformation of British society was intended to be profound; the labour party manifesto of 1945 states that ‘The nation needs a tremendous overhaul’ (Labour Party Manifesto 1945) and changes in the political landscape were soon accompanied by changes in the artistic and cultural life of Britain. The so called ‘Angry Young Men’ popularised ‘kitchen sink’ realism as the Modernist era fell into decline. David Lodge describes this as a struggle between ‘contemporaries’ (Kingsley Amis, John Braine, Alan Sillitoe etc.) and ‘moderns’ (William Golding, Iris Murdoch, Lawrence Durrell etc.) and he notes in Language of Fiction (1966) that the immediate post-war era represented a debate on ‘the meaning of the word ‘life’. Lodge explains that ‘Life to the contemporary is what common sense tells us it is, what people do […] To the modern, life is something elusive, baffling, multiple, subjective’
CitationAllen, N., Shoqairat, W. (2014). Lucky Jim: The Novel in Unchartered Times. In: Allen, N., Simmons, D. (eds) Reassessing the Twentieth-Century Canon, pp. 146-160. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137366016_11
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