Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scandalous, and others were simply misunderstood. All represent their time and helped define their generation, while today each is considered a landmark work of storytelling. David Lodge's The British Museum is Falling Down was published in 1965 and is a brilliant comic satire of academia, religion and human entanglements. It tells the story of hapless, scooter-riding young research student Adam Appleby, who is trying to write his thesis but is constantly distracted - not least by the fact that, as Catholics in the 1960s, he and his wife must rely on 'Vatican roulette' to avoid a fourth child.
What a silly book! It was at times fun and funny -- a raucous, farcical British.. romp.. thru a day in the life of 26 y.o. literary graduate student, Adam Appleby, father of three, with a possible 4th on the way. At other times it was tedious, redundant, longwinded and old hat. Of course it was written in, I believe, 1965 so maybe the theme of the Catholic Church vs. birth control was a fresher subject. Maybe the old "publish or perish" theme was fresher then too? Basically, Adam must -- finally -- publish his doctorate (appropriately enough on "The Long Sentance in English Literature") in order to secure a university post, and some badly needed income to support his young and growing family, but everything -- from his parrish Father (riding on the back of Adam's breaking down scooter while loudly argueing about contraception) to an American millionaire, to beautiful and insistently seductive young woman who lives above a kitchen full of Argentinian butchers! -- all this and more conspire against poor Adam. Like I said, it's very silly! But it was a short and fast read -- and fulfilled the obligation of my 12th book and 3rd recommended book!
I don't know if perhaps this was one of Lodge's earlier books.. maybe he (and his characters) have improved with age?
A fun quick read, especially for Anglophiles!
It's comical, and a quick holiday read. At a more interesting level, for those who can identify the references, it alludes to and pastiches a number of 20th century writers including Woolf, Hemingway and Greene. Adam's thesis has been honed down by his supervisor to what seems an odd subject: the long sentence in English literature. By the end of the novel, where he employs Joyce's unpunctuated stream of consciousness from Molly Bloom at the end of Ulysses, even the uninitiated can enjoy the irony where Adam is missing the very thing he needs for his thesis, as he misses almost everything else he needs in this one day.
A comic novel set at the time of the second Vatican Council, when Britain's Catholics were desperately hoping that the Church would change its stance against Birth Control. Adam Appleby, a post-graduate English student, spends his days researching his thesis in the British Museum Reading Room and worrying about the possibility that his wife is pregnant again. One of the most amusing parts was Adam day-dreaming about being elected Pope himself and changing the rules to the annoyance of the Cardinals.
According to the Author's Afterword very few of the original reviewers noticed the passages parodying ten famous authors, which makes me feel better about not realising either!