In From the Margins, I post my margin notes – along with my favourite quotations – from the books (or articles) I’ve read.


Amis, Kingsley
Lucky Jim
Penguin Books, 2010 Edition

  • In his letters to Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis called undergraduates “stew-dunce” (v).
  • Dixon, main character: “If one man’s got ten buns and another’s got two, and a bun has got to be given up by one of them, then surely you take it from the man with ten buns” (vi) / (48).
  • Laughed at this description: “unabundant brown hair” (vii).
  • Kingsley Amis, in his essay Real and Made-up People: “All fiction is autobiographical in the sense that its writer cannot truly invent anyone or anything, can only edit his experience, and cannot, poor fellow, represent ideas that have never entered his head” (viii).
  • “For some time after he’d thought how much simpler this kind of honesty and straightforwardness made the awful business of getting on with women” (5).
    -> “he was charmingly frank about it, James; quite charming in every way” (15).
  • On academic titles: “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” (9).
  • Lol: “Dixon, whose policy it was to read as little as possible of any given book” (11).
  • “Economic necessity and the call of pity were a strong combination; topped up by fear, as both were, they were invincible” (22).
  • On ‘scholasticism’: “Dixon read, heard, and even used the word a dozen times a day without knowing, though he seemed to. But he saw clearly that he wouldn’t be able to go on seeming to know the meaning of this and a hundred such words while Michie was there questioning, discussing, and arguing about them” (25).
  • “Haven’t you noticed how we all specialize in what we hate the most?” Dixon asked” (30).
  • “There was no reason to suppose that the week-end would contain anything better than the familiar mixture of predicted boredom with unpredicted boredom” (31).
  • “Without thinking he threw back his head, filled his lungs, and let loose a loud and prolonged bray of rage which recalled, in volume and timbre, Goldsmith’s performance in the madrigals” (57).
  • A sentence in a book by Alfred Beesley: “A stimulus cannot be received by the mind unless it serves some need of the organism” (61).
  • “The hydrogen bomb, the South African Government, Chang Kai-shek, Senator McCarthy himself, would then seem a light price to pay for no longer being in the Middle Ages. Had people ever been as nasty, as self-indulgent, as dull, as miserable, as cocksure, as bad at art, as dismally ludicrous, or as wrong as they’d been in the Middle Age – Margaret’s way of referring to the Middle Ages?” (87)
  • TRUMP: “From the back, Johns appeared to be wearing a blatant toupee which had slipped over slightly to one side and why, from the front, his face appeared to be surmounted by a curious helmet” (176).
  • “The worst of it is I shall go on doing exactly what I was going to do in the first place. It just shows how little it helps you to know where you stand” (210).
  • “He speculated for a moment that if Christine look like Margaret and Margaret looked like Christine his spirits would be very much higher” (213).
  • Bertrand (the villain): “If I’m after something, I don’t care what I do to make sure that I get it. That’s the only law I abide by; it’s the only way to get things in this world” (217).
  • “Minding isn’t a thing you can do anything about. I can’t help going on with it” (228).
  • “The joy of battle really had robbed him of his discretion and prudence” (229).
  • Gore-Urquhart offers Dixon a job. Ties into job searching today: “It’s not that you’ve got the qualifications, for this or any other work, but there are plenty who have. You haven’t got the disqualifications, though, and that’s much rarer” (230).
  • “For the first time he really felt it was no use trying to save those who fundamentally would rather not be saved. To go on trying would not merely be to yield to pity and sentimentality, but wrong and, to pursue it to its conclusion, inhumane” (256).
  • Dixon’s misanthropic tendencies: “He wanted to bet himself it would be bad so that he might stand a chance of its being good” (262).
  • Resting bitch face: “He thought what a pity it was that all his faces were designed to express rage or loathing” (264).
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