I'm rereading LUCKY JIM by Kingsley Amis. I have a soft spot for all those pre and post-war British novelists/poets, from Evelyn Waugh to Philip Larkin. In the novel, the hapless lecturer Dixon, trying desperately to navigate the treacherous terraine and abstruse code of behaviour at the college where he teaches Medieval Studies, is worried early on about an article he is trying to have published. Dixon is deathly afraid of getting the sack from a job he neither completely understands or wishes to remain at. Getting published in a "learned journal" would provide some insulation from the constant threat of dismissal. Walking with the head of his department, Dixon is asked for the title of his as-yet-unpublished article. Dixon replies, after much memory searching, that the article is entitled: The Economic Influence of the Developements in Shipbuilding Techniques, 1450 - 1485. Dixon believes this to be a suitable title:
"It was a perfect title, in that it crystallized the article's niggling mindlessness, it's funeral parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems."
Anyone even remotely connected with the academic world should read this novel.
In the introduction to this Penguin edition, David Lodge argues for the novel's importance, but states that upon rereading it he found it less humoruous than he remembered. I disagree. I find that the older I get the more appreciate books like LUCKY JIM.