Post Academic

Looking Back on “Lucky Jim”

Photobucket“I’ve just been wondering what led you to take up this racket in the first place.”

This question pops up in Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim, in which the not-so-lucky protagonist/semi-antihero finds himself stuck in an academic job he hates. Yet he still craves job security, which hinges on a boss who cares more about social interactions than actual scholarly work. Sound familiar?

Lucky Jim may be the ultimate nose-thumbing at academia, but it can also be treated as an instructional manual for those who are stuck in jobs they hate. Lucky Jim is the literary equivalent of the “Eff You” monologue in Half Baked, only all the F-bombs are replaced with full sentences. What follows are some tips from this ur-text of campus fiction:

Go after what you want. No, really. Professor Jim Dixon just loooves Christine, who is the girlfriend of Bertrand, who is–inconveniently enough–the pseudo-painter son of Dixon’s hot mess of a supervisor, Professor Welch. Christine is out of Dixon’s league socially. Even the woman chasing after Dixon says spitefully, “You don’t think she’d have you, do you? A shabby provincial bore like you.” But Dixon doesn’t give up that easily, and when he’s brave enough to go for it, he discovers that Christine is interested in him.

Exhaust appropriate outlets for your work frustration. Whenever Jim’s enemies (overeager students, supervisors, malicious colleagues) approach, he contorts his face into a ridiculous expression. He even has names for each of those expressions. Childish, yes, but it’s better than the alternative presented in the book, which is setting your hostess’s bed on fire with cigarettes.

DVD image from Amazon. Perhaps it is copyrighted, but I’m encouraging you to buy the book or DVD, so hope it helps.