Archive for December 14th, 2008

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

“…The examinations were now in progress, and Dixon had nothing to do that morning but turn up at the Assembly Hall at twelve-thirty to collect some scripts.  They would contain answers to questions he’d set about the Middle Ages.  As he approached the Common Room he thought briefly about the Middle Ages.  Those who professed themselves unable to believe in the reality of human progress ought to cheer themselves up, as the students under examination had conceivably been cheered up, by a short study of the Middle Ages…”

Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis published by Penguin Books in 2000, ISBN: 0141182598


The Boy Who Loved Books by John Sutherland

The boy who loved books is the story of one man’s often desperate, love affair with reading matter, with drink and with an adored, but absent parent. Books in many ways changed John’s life, propelling him to university, and sustaining him in the dark times that were to come. It is also a personal account of the shifting twentieth century and the profound changes that shook society, as well as what it was like to be a grammar-school boy, a national service man, and a redbrick graduate during this period. 

The Boy Who Loved Books: a memoir, by John Sutherland, published by John Murray Publishers in 2007, ISBN: 978-0-7195-6431-4

The Professor by Charlotte Brontë

“…I, in a few weeks, conquered the teasing diffculities inseparable from the commencement of almost every career.  Ere long I had acquired as much facility in speaking French as set me at my ease with my pupils; and as I had encountered them on a right footing at the very beginning, and continued tenaciously to retain the advantage I had early gained, they never attempted mutiny, which circumstance, all who are in any degree acquainted with the ongoings of Belgian schools, and who know the relation in which professors and pupils too frequently stand towards each other in those establishments, will consider an important and uncommon one…”

The Professor, by Charlotte Brontë, published by Penguin Books in 1995, ISBN: 0140621423

Back to Life by Wendy Coakley-Thompson


Back to Life by W. Coakley-Thompson“…Lisa and Merilee finally arrived at the orange door to the white, cinder-block classroom.  Lisa peered in at the eleven other students – five male, six female – who sat in desks arranged in a semi-circle.  Then her gaze shifted to the teacher’s desk at the mouth of the semi-circle and her heart lurched at her rib-cage.  Seated Indian fashion and in denim splendour on the top of the desk was none other than Marc, the expert foot masseur from the party.  Jersey is way too small!

‘This class will challenge you” he lectured, and all eyes were front and center on him, the men with admiration and most of the women with lust.  “You will work hard.  But if you’re diligent, you’ll experience writing that can free your soul.”

Suddenly, the blue gaze behind trendy specs shifted, and Marc saw her.  He graced her with a confused, lopsided smile, and she remembered again how fine he was that night at the party.  “You’re here to see me?” he asked.

She realised she was staring.  “Umm…” she looked down at her schedule. “…you’re the professor? You’re Marc Antonio Guerrieri?”

“I am,” he said simply.

Get your shit together girl!  Lisa came forward, waving her schedule.  He took the schedule and examined it.  Meanwhile, she checked him out…”

Back to Life by Wendy Coakley-Thompson, published by Kensington Publishing corporation, ISBN: 075820745X

Small World by David Lodge

“…To understand a message is to decode it.  Language is a code.  But every decoding is another encoding.  If you say something to me I check that I have understood your message by saying it back to you in my own words, that is, different words from the ones you used, for if I repeat your own words exactly you will doubt whether I have really understood you.  But if I use my words it follows that I have changed your meaning, however slightly; and even if I were, deviantly, to indicate my comprehension by repeating back to you your own unaltered words, that is no guarantee that I have duplicated your meaning in my head, because I bring a different experience of language, literature, and non-verbal reality to those words, therefore they mean something different to me from what they mean to you…time has moved on since you opened your mouth to speak, the molecules in your body have changed, what you intended to say has been superseded by what you did say, and that has already become part of your personal history, imperfectly remembered.  Conversation is like playing tennis with a ball made of Krazy Putty that keeps coming back over the net in a different shape. 

Reading, of course, is different to conversation…the tennis analogy will not do for the activity of reading — it is not a to-and-fro process, but an endless, tantalising leading on, a flirtation without consummation, or if there is consummation, it is solitary, masturbatory. [Here the audience grew restive.] The reader plays with himself as the text plays upon him, plays upon his curiosity, desire, as a striptease dancer plays upon her audience’s curiosity and desire…”

Small World by David Lodge, published by Penguin Books in 1984, ISBN: 0140072659

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