Lodging a complaint

February 12, 2015

David Lodge’s novels deal with the relations between academia and the outside world (“Laughing from the inside”, Features, 29 January). They are highly realistic in terms of detail but questionable for the values that they promote. In Nice Work, Robyn Penrose, a young lecturer in English literature, is supposed to be brought into the real world (industry) by shadowing Vic Wilcox, the manager of a small factory. She heartily dislikes the boredom and repetitiousness of industry, but the alternative to labour – automation – horrifies her (and her author) with its “lightless and blind” machinery.

The question is what values does academia have to offer against this? Robyn is typically book-making (and on the industrial novel, ironically) not because she has anything to say but because she wants to promote her career. Lodge is quoted on this: “Much academic publication is done merely to maintain the author’s position in the profession”, and he appears to endorse this “value” in his heroine. The novel fails in my view because it does not incarnate an academic world that supplies a satisfying alternative to industrialism. Lodge is said to be a satirist – but a satirist has to take a scalpel to things. He seems more like a Doc Martin – can’t stand the sight of blood.

Nigel Probert
Porthmadog

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

British dean of US business school also questions the ‘strange’ trend of increasing regulation while reducing state funding in the UK sector