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Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis

Important Quotations Explained

Chapters 23–25

Key Facts

"It was a perfect title, in that it crystallized the article's niggling mindlessness, its funereal parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems."

This quotation, thought by Dixon in Chapter 1 as he is riding in the car with Professor Welch, expresses Dixon's feelings about his own academic article, and scholarship in general. The quotation asserts that not only is Dixon's article—and academia in general—obscure, but also condemns the article for masquerading as something useful and revealing. This added offense of posturing prepares us for Dixon's hatred of academia and the false posturing of others throughout the rest of the novel. The quotation is also a good early example of one type of linguistic humor in the novel, which periodically uses multiple clauses to increase the ridiculousness of a situation. Finally, the quotation stands as our first evidence in Lucky Jim of Dixon's capacity for self-deprecating humor. He does not spare himself in his sardonic identifications of pomposity.

"The sight of her seemed an irresistible attack on his own habits, standards, and ambitions: something designed to put him in his place for good."

Dixon thinks this quotation to himself when he first sees Christine Callaghan at the Welches' home in Chapter 4. The quotation is the first indication of Dixon's tormented feelings about Christine, who he is tempted by but who is unavailable to him. Christine is unavailable not only because she is currently dating Bertrand, but also because she is in a different class than Dixon or the kind of women he dates. Many parts of the Welches' artsy party seem designed to put Dixon in his place, but, significantly, it is only Christine who arouses this kind of class anxiety in him.

"Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way."

This quotation comes at the beginning of a long passage describing Dixon's hangover at the beginning of Chapter 6. The quotation is a good example of how comedy works in Lucky Jim, as the humor of this particular quotation lies in its twisting an ordinary phrase into something absurd. Dixon's humor often works this way in the novel, taking trite or clichéd language of others, then inverting it on itself. The passage in which this quotation appears describes at length Dixon's feelings upon waking up with a nasty hangover, and this is also indicative of the humor of the novel, where comedic lines are used to underscore comedic situations.

"...his theory that nice things are nicer than nasty ones."

Both Lucky Jim and Kingsley Amis were often evoked in service of, or mentioned in association with, a shifting, or even revolutionary, atmosphere in England after World War II. Quotations such as the one above, however, reveal the underlying fidelity to stasis and simplicity in Dixon's philosophy. Dixon knows what he likes and what he doesn't like, and his problem is learning to act on those instincts, not to re-evaluating them. This particular quotation is also indicative of the final comic justice at the end of the novel, whereby the characters are rewarded for doing what they want.

"Dixon was interested by this conventional absence of conventional sensitivity; for almost the first time in his life a woman was behaving in a way alleged to be typical of women."

Dixon thinks this quotation in Chapter 19, when Christine is indulging her healthy appetite after having just broken off their relationship. Dixon is fascinated not only with Christine's lack of pretense, but also with her hard- heartedness in the face of his own suffering. The irony of Dixon's revelation, wherein a stereotype finally turns out to be true, is typical of some of the humor of Lucky Jim, which makes a point of standing our expectations on their heads. The quotation also recalls Dixon's attraction to Christine's less feminine habits, such as her laughter and large appetite, which he knows are genuine because they are "imperfections."

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