David Lodge Lodge, David - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

David Lodge 1935-

(Full name David John Lodge) English novelist, critic, editor, and playwright.

The following entry presents an overview of Lodge's career through 1999.

A highly respected author and critic, Lodge is best known for his intelligent, comic novels, including Changing Places (1975), Small World (1984), and Nice Work (1988). Lodge's fiction typically features beleaguered academics and conflicted Roman Catholics—often a combination of the two. His inventive texts abound with allusions, puns, structural innovations, amusing metaphors, and clever incarnations of literary theory in the lives of his characters. A distinguished scholar of the English novel, Lodge has also produced several major works of literary theory and criticism, including Language of Fiction (1966) and Working with Structuralism (1981).

Biographical Information

Born in South London, Lodge was the only child of William Frederick Lodge, a dance band musician, and Rosalie Marie Murphy Lodge, an Irish-Belgian Roman Catholic. Lodge was in London with his parents during the Nazi blitz of 1940, but for most of World War II he and his mother lived in the countryside. At age ten he was enrolled in St. Joseph's Academy, a Catholic grammar school in Blackheath. There Lodge cultivated an intense interest in the Catholic faith, which would later become a cornerstone of his fiction. As part of the first generation of English children to receive free secondary schooling in England, Lodge graduated from St. Joseph's in 1952 and matriculated at University College, London, where he earned a B.A. in English with honors in 1955. After completing two years of national service, he returned to University College to finish his graduate work in English literature, concentrating on Catholic fiction in the years since the Oxford movement. In 1959 Lodge completed his degree and married Mary Frances Jacob, a fellow English student. The next year he published his first work, The Picturegoers. In 1960, Lodge accepted a one-year post teaching literature at the University of Birmingham, and the next year he was appointed to a tenure-track position as assistant lecturer. He rose through the academic ranks becoming Professor of Modern English Literature in 1976. His years at Birmingham were interrupted by a 1969-70 visiting professorship at the University of California, Berkeley. Besides writing satiric reviews for a local repertory company during his early years in Birmingham, Lodge also turned to critical work, publishing Language of Fiction, which became one of the most widely read of all contemporary books about the novel. Lodge followed this success with a series of journal articles and books of criticism that established him as one of the most respected literary theorists in England. His books Graham Greene (1966) and Evelyn Waugh (1971) were written for the Columbia Essays on Modern Writers series. At the suggestion of his friend and fellow academic Malcolm Bradbury, Lodge decided in the early 1960s to write a comic novel, and in this genre, beginning with The British Museum Is Falling Down (1965), Lodge found his true voice. Lodge has received numerous honors for his fiction, including the Hawthornden Prize and Yorkshire Post Fiction Prize for Changing Places, the Whitbread Book of the Year award for How Far Can You Go? (1980), and the Sunday Express Book of the Year award for Nice Work. Both Small World and Nice Work were short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize. Lodge was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1976. He retired from the University of Birmingham in 1987 to concentrate on writing. He has since continued to produce notable works of criticism and several works for television, including an adaptation of Nice Work that aired in 1989 and won the Royal Television Society's award for best drama serial and a Silver Nymph at the 1990 International Television Festival in Monte Carlo.

Major Works

Lodge's first two novels, The Picturegoers and Ginger, You're Barmy (1962)—the latter of which emerged from Lodge's extreme disaffection with military life—reveal the influence of Catholic novelist Graham Greene on Lodge's work. Out of the Shelter (1970), a semi-autobiographic novel, grew out of Lodge's childhood experiences during World War II and the austerity of England's postwar years. While Lodge's first three novels are works of serious, realistic fiction, his next novel, The British Museum Is Falling Down, is a madcap comedy that established the direction of his subsequent fiction. Strongly influenced by James Joyce, British Museum describes a day in the life of a young Catholic husband struggling to meet expenses while still in graduate school. His protagonist's daydreams parody the style and diction of the novelists he has read during his years of English literature study. This novel was written partly in response to Vatican II, at a time when many young Catholics hoped that the Church's ban on contraception would be rescinded.

In all of Lodge's “campus novels,” he gently mocks his own world of academia, poking fun at professors who cloak themselves in theories of the outside world while never actually experiencing it. Changing Places, the first of these campus novels, pits a charismatic, much-published American academic Morris Zapp against his decidedly timid English counterpart, Philip Swallow. Zapp is a faculty member at Euphoric State University, a thinly disguised Berkeley, while Swallow is on the faculty at the University of Rummidge, Lodge's imaginary Birmingham. Zapp and Swallow briefly exchange academic appointments, cars, homes, and even wives in a switch that results in renewal for both of them. The changes in their lives are mirrored by the text itself; each chapter is written from a different point of view and style, from omniscient narrator to epistolary form to screenplay. How Far Can You Go? follows ten young Catholic characters through twenty-five years of their lives, beginning with their university years. The dramatic changes in the church, from worship and pastoral practice to relations with other faiths, are examined through the lives and experiences of these characters as they attempt to reconcile their sexual needs with their religious beliefs. Small World, a comedy of manners, is concerned with a different kind of desire—that of academic ambition. The novel is structured as a chivalric romance, complete with a quest—an appointment to the Unesco Chair of Literary Criticism, a post that includes a large stipend but no academic responsibilities. The work, in which the Zapp and Swallow characters of Changing Places reappear, abounds with irony, especially in the decidedly unheroic, unchivalric behavior among the herd of academics who traverse the globe attending various literary conferences on topics so arcane that they are the only people in the world who understand them. Nice Work, a combination of campus novel and modern version of the mid-nineteenth-century industrial novel, comments on the condition of both academic and industrial England during the Thatcher years. The work is Lodge's comic interpretation of “town and gown” conflicts, positing a gradual mutual understanding of the two worlds on the part of their respective representatives—a left-wing, feminist junior academic from Rummidge and a local, poorly educated captain of industry.

Paradise News (1991) treads familiar Lodge territory, focusing on themes of religious questioning and sexual dysfunction, this time among a group of British tourists in Hawaii. All the characters, including Bernard Walsh, a laicized priest through whom twenty years of Catholic history is personified, are looking for a paradise they cannot quite define but search for in various, gently comic ways. The title is also a play on the New Testament concept of the good news of the Christian gospel. Therapy (1995) is a droll look at Laurence (Tubby) Passmore, a successful television situation comedy scriptwriter with a pain in his knee that an army of therapists—physical therapist, aromatherapist, cognitive behavior therapist, acupuncturist, platonic mistress—cannot seem to assuage. A self-educated and self-absorbed man, Passmore discovers the works of nineteenth-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and makes a pilgrimage to his home. Passmore's search for a loving relationship makes for high comedy as well as a comment on the struggle to discover meaning and identity in modern life, a search undertaken in one way or another by nearly all of Lodge's fictional creations. After retiring from his academic post, Lodge continued to produce notable works of criticism, including After Bakhtin (1990), The Art of Fiction (1992), and The Practice of Writing (1996). He has also written several television screenplays and stage dramas, including The Writing Game (1990) and Home Truths (1998).

Critical Reception

Lodge is highly regarded for his several campus novels, particularly Changing Places, which first established his popularity. These novels are praised for their wit and intelligence, as well as for the skill with which Lodge presents difficult contemporary literary theory to readers—viewed as a testament to Lodge's impressive erudition. As critics observe, Lodge's ability to deftly contrast opposing personalities, ideologies, and social classes permits him to explore and parody each in turn. Reviewers note that Lodge's humor is never savage; his characters, while bumbling, are portrayed so warmly that even while laughing at them, the reader still likes them. Though primarily recognized for his satirical depictions of the insular academic world, Lodge has been described by some as a “Catholic” novelist—with The British Museum Is Falling Down regarded as his most successful take on this theme. Among his later novels, Paradise News did not fare as well among critics. However, Therapy garnered mixed reviews, with most critics finding moments of brilliance in the work despite elements of contrivance and superficiality. As a literary scholar who has resisted the theoretical claims of post-structuralism, Lodge has won admiration for the clarity and insight of his criticism. Language of Fiction and Working with Structuralism are among Lodge's most significant works in this genre. Lodge has also received praise for his more recent After Bakhtin and The Practice of Writing.

Principal Works

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Picturegoers (novel) 1960

Ginger, You're Barmy (novel) 1962

Between These Four Walls [with Malcolm Bradbury and James Duckett] (drama) 1963

The British Museum Is Falling Down (novel) 1965

Slap in the Middle [with James Duckett and David Turner] (drama) 1965

Graham Greene (criticism) 1966

Language of Fiction: Essays in Criticism and Verbal Analysis of the English Novel (criticism) 1966

Out of the Shelter (novel) 1970

Evelyn Waugh (criticism) 1971

The Novelist at the Crossroads and Other...

(The entire section is 195 words.)

Denis Donoghue (review date 6 November 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Shakers,” in London Review of Books, November 6, 1986, p. 22.

[In the following review, Donoghue finds Lodge's collection of writings in Write On uneven. Donoghue also discusses the role of metaphor in literature and criticism.]

This is a gathering of David Lodge’s easy pieces: they are footnotes, shouldernotes and headnotes to the formal work in fiction and literary criticism he has published in the past twenty years. The book is in two parts. The first, ‘Personal and Descriptive’, includes a memoir of his first year in America, mostly a travel-year, 1964–65; his report on the turbulence at Berkeley in 1969; a trip to Poland in 1981;...

(The entire section is 2222 words.)

Robert A. Morace (essay date 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The British Museum Is Falling Down: Or Up From Realism,” in The Dialogic Novels of Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge, Southern Illinois University, 1989, pp. 132-41.

[In the following essay, Morace discusses Lodge's parody of Catholic sexuality and his sophisticated use of literary allusions in The British Museum Is Falling Down. Morace notes that in this postmodern novel Lodge debunks the authority of the Catholic Church and literary convention, particularly that of realism, to great comic effect.]

The British Museum Is Falling Down is another of Lodge’s double novels—double not in its structure (as in the case of Ginger,...

(The entire section is 3250 words.)

S. J. Tirrell (review date 8 March 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Mocking Absurdities in British Industry,” in Christian Science Monitor, March 8, 1989, p. 11.

[In the following review, Tirrell offers a positive assessment of Nice Work.]

When Vic Wilcox, managing director of J. Pringle & Sons, awakens on Monday, Jan. 13, 1986, he is unaware that his world is about to be turned, slowly but irrevocably, upside down.

Under the auspices of a government-concocted program for “Industry Year,” he will acquire a “shadow”—an academic from the local university whose job it will be to follow him about once a week, thus fostering understanding between industry and academia. So begins Nice Work,...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Siegfried Mews (essay date April 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Professor's Novel: David Lodge's Small World,” in MLN, Vol. 104, No. 3, April, 1989, pp. 713-26.

[In the following essay, Mews discusses Lodge's development of the “campus novel” genre in Small World, noting parallels to his earlier work, Changing Places. According to Mews, Lodge's version of the campus novel is international rather than local in scope, and its satire belies serious questions concerning the significance of literary criticism among its academic practitioners.]

Although often proclaimed dead, the British “University Novel” and the American “Campus Novel” or “College Novel”—these terms are used...

(The entire section is 5396 words.)

Mary Jo Salter (review date 18 September 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Only Connect,” in New Republic, September 18, 1989, pp. 46-8, 52.

[In the following review, Salter offers a positive evaluation of Nice Work and comments favorably on Lodge's metafictional style in this and previous novels.]

What is nice work? According to Robyn Penrose, young, leftist, feminist, deconstructionist critic and badly paid lecturer at the University of Rummidge, nice work is “meaningful. It’s rewarding. I don’t mean in money terms. It would be worth doing even if one wasn’t paid anything at all.” Nice work if you can keep it: Margaret Thatcher’s budget cuts in education may soon put Robyn and a lot of people like Robyn out...

(The entire section is 3621 words.)

Kieran Quinlan (review date Summer 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Nice Work, in World Literature Today, Vol. 64, No. 3, Summer, 1990, p. 464.

[In the following review, Quinlan offers a positive assessment of Nice Work.]

“We have a lot of Anglophiles here,” Morris Zapp, chair of the English Department at Euphoria State, informs Robyn Penrose in a transatlantic phone conversation from his home in the Bay area. “It must be because we’re so far from England.” Indeed, the landscape of British academia is looking even bleaker now in 1986 than it did when Zapp first visited there—reluctantly—decades earlier in David Lodge’s Changing Places. That novel was the opening number in a trio of...

(The entire section is 480 words.)

Kieran Quinlan (review date Autumn 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of After Bakhtin, in World Literature Today, Vol. 65, No. 4, Autumn, 1991, p. 780.

[In the following review, Quinlan offers a favorable assessment of After Bakhtin.]

A remark in the introduction to David Lodge’s quite excellent new book—or rather collection of occasional essays, all of which have been influenced in some way or other by Mikhail Bakhtin’s theories of the novel—appears to deconstruct immediately the pieces that follow: “Though I intend to go on writing literary criticism [after his recent retirement from the University of Birmingham], I doubt whether it will be ‘academic’ in the way most of the essays included in this...

(The entire section is 583 words.)

Graham Coster (review date 12 September 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Rainbows,” in London Review of Books, September 12, 1991, pp. 14-5.

[In the following review, Coster offers an unfavorable evaluation of Paradise News.]

Had the Pentagon, back in the late Sixties, accepted Boeing’s tender for a massive new cargo aircraft for the United States Air Force, David Lodge would not have been able to write Paradise News. Instead, however, Lockheed got the contract, and Boeing were left with a redundant set of blueprints for the biggest furniture van never built. To save all that development money going to waste, they came up with a blindingly simple solution: fill it with seats, and call it an airliner. Thus was the...

(The entire section is 2546 words.)

Valentine Cunningham (review date 27 September 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Vacation or Vocation,” in Times Literary Supplement, September 27, 1991, p. 25.

[In the following review, Cunningham offers an unfavorable assessment of Paradise News.]

David Lodge’s latest novel [Paradise News] is a very hodge-podge affair. Fictional kinds and methods clash brusquely in it. Tonally, it is an unresolved mixture of the earnest and the comic. It reads as if the satirico-autobiographical Roman Catholic Bildungsroman mode of How Far Can You Go? were bumping noisily and lumpily around in an old kitchen blender with the academic-travelogue matter of Changing Places and Small World, and refusing quite to...

(The entire section is 1193 words.)

Anthony Quinn (review date 27 September 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Recycling Metafictions,” in New Statesman & Society, September 27, 1991, p. 53.

[In the following review, Quinn offers an unfavorable assessment of Paradise News.]

While transporting his characters to more exotic climes, David Lodge does not appear to have noticed just how small his own world has become. His latest novel, Paradise News, borrows its main hinge—cloistered academic visits new world and discovers a new self—from Changing Places, but that’s not the half of it. Lodge here is not revisiting old themes and motifs so much as recycling them. Readers who have delighted in his previous work—I count myself among them—may...

(The entire section is 681 words.)

R. B. Kershner (review date Winter 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Nice Work,” in Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Vol. 25, No. 2, Winter, 1992, pp. 211-3.

[In the following review, Kershner offers a positive evaluation of After Bakhtin. Though noting that the volume offers few new observations concerning Bakhtin's work, Kershner praises Lodge's analysis and recommends the collection for general academic readers and students of dialogic criticism.]

A review should be, in principle, a dialogic rejoinder to one’s own discourse, but that discourse did not want or expect a rejoinder, it pretended to render all further discussion of the matter superfluous, to leave the reader in a state of dumb...

(The entire section is 1719 words.)

Edward T. Wheeler (review date 22 May 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Flying High,” in Commonweal, May 22, 1992, pp. 23-4.

[In the following review, Wheeler offers a positive assessment of Paradise News.]

David Lodge has returned to familiar territory—sex and the fences Catholicism seems to throw about it. This is a love story, a status report on the minds of late twentieth-century theologians, an allegory of modern tourist practices as pilgrimage, and finally a meditation on finality: of the four last things, death, judgment, heaven and hell, only death is certain. The other three items get marginal restatement in a quotation from Unamuno by way of Reader’s Digest.

This is so deeply Catholic a...

(The entire section is 1001 words.)

George Sim Johnston (review date 17 August 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Father of Fun,” in National Review, August 17, 1992, pp. 41-2.

[In the following review of Paradise News, Johnston objects to Lodge's superficial treatment of religious doubt but finds modest entertainment value in the novel.]

David Lodge is one of those prolific English novelists who finally make the lucrative transatlantic leap with their six or seventh novel. With the appearance of Small World in 1984 the American reading public became Lodge conscious. Once they pick up on an Englishman like Lodge, moreover, American readers tend to remain loyal. This is probably because English novelists of moderate talent are so dependable. We know...

(The entire section is 768 words.)

Peter Kemp (review date 23 October 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Holding the Floor,” in Times Literary Supplement, October 23, 1992, p. 23.

[In the following unfavorable review of The Art of Fiction, Kemp finds shortcomings in the volume's lack of focus and consistency.]

“This is a book for people who prefer to take their Lit Crit in small doses, a book to browse in, and dip into”, David Lodge declares in his introduction to The Art of Fiction. It is also a book—that description could, unfortunately, be construed as confessing—strung together from short newspaper pieces, lacking any guiding structure, and fairly shallow in content.

What makes this a particular pity is that its...

(The entire section is 1283 words.)

Roy Sellars (review date December 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of After Bakhtin, in Notes and Queries, Vol. 237, No. 4, December, 1992, pp. 529-30.

[In the following review, Sellars offers an unfavorable assessment of After Bakhtin.]

The ‘Bakhtin industry’ is undergoing a period of expansion. After Bakhtin, however, is not a study of the Russian literary theorist as such. There is little discussion of Bakhtin criticism—not much on Todorov or de Man, for example, and no mention of Kristeva. As regards Bakhtin himself, Lodge tends to repeat the same quotations (or even misquotations) from one chapter to the next, without furthering a general argument. His book is a ‘collation of warmed-up...

(The entire section is 625 words.)

Marvin Thompson (review date Winter 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Paradise News, in World Literature Today, Vol. 67, No. 1, Winter, 1993, pp. 181-2.

[In the following review of Paradise News, Thompson praises Lodge's narrative skill and humor, but finds shortcomings in his treatment of profound theological issues.]

As in a number of his earlier novels, David Lodge in Paradise News is both very funny and serious—in that order. Funny, in that his treatment of a group of British tourists who disembark for a vacation in Hawaii after a long and exhausting flight from Heathrow often verges on the wildly hilarious; but also serious, in that his central character, Bernard Walsh, who teaches theology...

(The entire section is 783 words.)

Eric Korn (review date 28 April 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Touch of Dread,” in Times Literary Supplement, April 28, 1995, p. 23.

[In the following review of Therapy, Korn finds Lodge's satire generally entertaining, but concludes that Lodge's attempt to make light of Kierkegaard's existential philosophy is unsuccessful.]

Asked by one of his various healers (the cognitive behaviour therapist, as it happens) to compile a list of the good and bad things in his life, balding, fifty-eight-year-old-in-1993 Laurence “Tubby” Passmore has no problem with the left-hand column: he is scriptwriter to a successful sit com, consequently rich, apparently healthy, his marriage stable, his children out of his hair, he...

(The entire section is 1057 words.)

Carole Angier (review date 12 May 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Sick at Heart,” in New Statesman & Society, May 12, 1995, p. 41.

[In the following review, Angier offers praise for Therapy.]

I read most of Therapy on a train, hooting uncontrollably (me, not the train). It’s so gloriously accurate. “Slough will be the next station stop,” said the tannoy—and there it was, on page 58: “Rugby will be the next station stop.” “BR has taken to using this cumbersome phrase, ‘station stop’ lately, presumably to distinguish scheduled stops at stations from unscheduled ones in the middle of fields.”

We got to Paddington; “This train has terminated” wasn’t in the book,...

(The entire section is 667 words.)

Jane Smiley (review date 23 July 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Tubby, Redeemed,” in Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 23, 1995, pp. 1, 9.

[In the following review, Smiley offers a favorable assessment of Therapy.]

There are few writers whose roster of novels I’ve read in its entirety, but David Lodge is one of them. I began with his hilarious academic satire, Small World, and, mostly because that book gave me a laugh or two on every page, I sought out all the others, from the almost as well-known Changing Places (two university professors, one from a rainy British red-brick university ever falling on hard times, the other from Berkeley, which Lodge calls Euphoria U., exchange jobs and much else), to...

(The entire section is 1179 words.)

John Fawell (essay date Winter 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Globe-Trotting Professor: David Lodge's Romance of the Modern Literary Critic,” in Midwest Quarterly, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 2, Winter, 1996, pp. 183-94.

[In the following essay, Fawell examines Lodge's parody of contemporary literary theory and academic careerism in Small World. Fawell notes that, despite its humorous dissection of academic hypocrisy and impotence, the novel contains sexual and quest motifs more consistent with the romance genre than satire.]

David Lodge updates the minor genre of the academic novel in his 1984 work, Small World, by pondering two relatively contemporary aspects of Academics: the influence of modern technology...

(The entire section is 4235 words.)

Joshua Friend (essay date March 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “‘Every Decoding is Another Encoding’: Morris Zapp's Poststructural Implications on our Postmodern World,” in English Language Notes, Vol. 33, No. 3, March, 1996, pp. 61-7.

[In the following essay, Friend discusses the literary and epistemological implications of Morris Zapp's postmodern dictum “every decoding is another encoding” in Lodge's novel Small World.]

Poststructuralism and postmodernism have much in common. Poststructuralism, of course, is more linguistically based, but the two theories merge on their notions of obscurity and indeterminacy. The insufficiency of language as signifier in poststructural doctrine precedes postmodernism, where,...

(The entire section is 2204 words.)

Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Jr. (review date Spring 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Aromatherapy and Kierkegaard,” in Cross Currents, Vol. 46, No. 1, Spring, 1996, pp. 130-3.

[In the following review, Gaffney offers a positive evaluation of Lodge's novel Therapy.]

Most of David Lodge’s earlier novels involve academics as the principle subjects. In The British Museum Is Falling Down, Changing Places, Small World, Nice Work, and Paradise News he proved himself a master teacher and a sparkling parodist of the academy. Adept both at enabling the general reader to comprehend the academic enterprise and at spoofing professorial pretensions, Lodge has produced fiction in which imaginary lives are palpably real. His stories about...

(The entire section is 1693 words.)

Scott Stossel (review date April 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Right, Here Goes,” in Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 277, No. 4, April, 1996, pp. 119-24.

[In the following review of Therapy, Stossel provides an overview of Lodge's fiction and career, and discusses recurring motifs and postmodern devices in his novels.]

For some years now literature has been under siege by “theory” in its various incarnations: deconstructionism, post-structuralism, Marxism, cultural criticism, and historicism, among other esoteric isms. Although most of the reading public continues to approach books and literature in much the same way that it has for at least a century or two, reading for plot, character and meaning, anyone even...

(The entire section is 4341 words.)

D. J. Taylor (review date 3 January 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” in Times Literary Supplement, January 3, 1997, p. 25.

[In the following review of The Practice of Writing, Taylor commends Lodge's critical writings, though finds the collection as a whole to be a “mixed bag” of varying importance and interest.]

The nine years since David Lodge gave up his professorship at the University of Birmingham in order to devote more time to his writing have been highly productive. Three novels, a volume of heavyweight literary criticism (After Bakhtin, 1990), screenplay adaptations of his own and other people’s work, a cache of reviews, a “fiction masterclass” in the...

(The entire section is 1239 words.)

W. M. Hagen (review date Autumn 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Practice of Writing, in World Literature Today, Vol. 71, No. 4, Autumn, 1997, pp. 795-6.

[In the following review, Hagen offers a positive assessment of The Practice of Writing.]

Time and again, during my reading of The Practice of Writing, I had to remind myself to take notes for this review. David Lodge writes criticism like the good novelist he is. There is always a story to tell: authors’ lives, authors’ books, how his own life and career intersect with their lives and books. This is not to say that Lodge’s criticism is negligible or his judgments entirely personal. The appeal of this collection comes from the personality...

(The entire section is 567 words.)

Mick Imlah (review date 19 November 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Writer's Revenge,” in Times Literary Supplement, November 19, 1999, p. 24.

[In the following review, Imlah offers a positive assessment of Lodge's prose adaptation of his play Home Truths.]

Home Truths is David Lodge’s adaptation into prose fiction of his play of the same title, which was first staged in February 1998; and it hardly conceals its origins, with its single interior setting, and a narrative which is only a rendering of stage-directions into the past tense:

Eleanor led Sam into the kitchen. A minute or two later Adrian, wearing a T-shirt and tracksuit trousers, came down the stairs and went along...

(The entire section is 530 words.)

Further Reading

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)


Acheson, James. “The Small Worlds of Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge.” The British and Irish Novel Since 1960, edited by James Acheson, pp. 78-92. New York: St. Martins Press, 1991.

Discusses Lodge's preoccupations in his novels with Catholicism and the academic world, drawing comparisons between the “campus novels” of Lodge and Malcolm Bradbury and the parodic modes of both.

Banville, John. “Nice Work.” New York Review of Books (10 August 1995): 24-6.

Praises Small World as Lodge's “finest novel,” but finds Therapy unsuccessful.

Bayley, John....

(The entire section is 486 words.)