Just doing some updating in Librarything I noticed on a sidebar that it’s David Lodge’s birthday, so I thought I’d highlight this quintessentially British author who is 75 today.
Lodge is a fellow South Londoner, but these days lives and works in Birmingham which he has immortalised in his fictional university city of Rummidge, indeed the halls of academe loom large in much of his work, and that’s where the first book I read by him was set…
Changing Places is a tale of two campuses, Rummidge and Plotinus (modelled on Berkeley, CA), and two lecturers both forty, (as was Lodge when it was published in 1975) do a job-swap. Brit, Philip Swallow is very conventional – the exact opposite of the loud and snobbish Maurice Zapp, but they gradually find themselves fitting in, especially with each other’s wives! It’s very much a novel of its time – takes me right back to the 1970s. It makes a Rummidge trilogy along with Small World which explores the academic gravy train, and 1984′s Nice Work; Swallow and Zapp appear in both. The latter two were both televised, and Lodge adapted Nice Work himself.
The last Lodge book I read, which was a couple of years ago, was The British Museum is Falling Down – one of his 60s novels, set in swinging London and about Catholics, contraception and procrastination. It was funny, but it wasn’t until I got to the end and read the afterword, that I realised it contained a whole series of literary pastiches in from Joyce’s Ulysses to Kafka – only having read one of the spoofed texts I could be forgiven this though.
I’ve got around four other Lodge novels in the TBR plus his book about how literature works The Art of Fiction; in particular I have been meaning to read Deaf Sentence (2008) for ages, so I shall go and ’rummidge ‘ around for it …
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID LODGE