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Lucky Jim

Scheduled broadcast date: Monday, February 25, 2002
(Confirm with your local station)

Based on the classic novel by Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim deals in comic catastrophe. The hapless Jim Dixon (Stephen Tomkinson, Ballykissangel), a newly employed assistant lecturer in history at a small British university, attempts to settle in and make a good impression. He encounters one disaster after another.


Discussion Questions

Lucky Jim
by Kingsley Amis (1954)

  1. At the beginning of Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis compares assistant history professor Jim Dixon with Dixon's department head, Professor Welch. What sets Dixon and Welch apart? How do their attitudes towards the study of history differ? How does class influence their sense of responsibility, whether academic or social? Are they alike in any ways?

  2. What does Amis mean by referring to Jim as "lucky" in the book's title?

  3. What role(s) does humor play in Lucky Jim? Does it soften Amis's approach or add nastiness? What feelings does humor belie in Jim? As we can see with Jim's somewhat dire situation, comedy is often generated at the expense of others' misfortune. How can an audience find this brand of humor funny? What does Amis's use of humor say about his personal attitudes towards university life? Do you feel that those who are mocked deserve it? Who, if anyone, comes out unscathed?

  4. Some modern critics have labeled Kingsley Amis a misogynist. From his portraits of Margaret Peel, Christine Callahan, Carol Goldsmith, Mrs. Welch, and Miss Cutler, would you agree with this assessment? How is each portrayed and what do you believe are Amis's intentions? Are they flattering portraits? Which traits does Amis seem to value in women? How do his female characters relate to men? Even if one argues that Amis was simply a "man of his times" with regard to his depiction of women, does that matter? Does Amis treat his male and female characters with similar humor and tone?

  5. Kingsley Amis was one of Britain's "Angry Young Men," a group of post-war authors from working class backgrounds who aimed to skewer upper-class pretensions. What evidence of this do you find in Lucky Jim? How is class portrayed? Which characters do the skewering and whom do they skewer? How is this represented in the book? In the film?

  6. How true to the novel is the film version of Lucky Jim? How does the story differ in each and do you consider the differences significant? Why do you think the filmmakers made the changes they did? Do the author and the filmmakers show different intentions? Which version is more subtle? How is inner dialogue handled? Action? Character? Do you find one version more appealing than the other?

  7. Speculate on a contemporary version of Lucky Jim: do race, gender and class play different roles today? How have immigration and affirmative action changed society? What might Kingsley Amis have to say about "political correctness?" Which of today's issues might Amis take on? How might he portray women? What obstacles might Jim encounter in moving ahead in today's academic world? What might be Jim's "lucky" end?


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