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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116053
  • ASIN: B0035G02MW
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,975,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In British writer Lodge's (Author, Author) modest 13th fictional effort, an elderly man's hearing loss embroils him in a sticky situation with a beautiful, manipulative young woman. Sexagenarian Desmond Bates wears a hearing aid after being diagnosed some 20 years earlier with acquired deafness and consistently misinterprets people's words (which Lodge milks to maximum comic effect). Bates longs for activities after his retirement from teaching applied linguistics, other than contemplating e-mail spam about erectile dysfunction and watching his wife, Winifred, enjoy her success as an interior designer. The novel takes the form of his newly begun daily diary. At a gallery event, Bates mistakenly agrees to help shapely, enigmatic American student Alex Loom with her Ph.D. thesis on suicide notes. It quickly becomes clear that Loom's intentions are anything but academic and her instability shakes not only the sound foundations of Bates's family life but his long-since-stagnant fantasy life as well. Lodge's amiable, deliberate narrative tickles like a feather, but his frequent pauses for lengthy, expository grace notes may not appeal to every reader. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Deaf Sentence, structured mostly as Desmond Bates's diary, marks a departure for David Lodge. Although filled with humor, the novel moves in a more poignant direction than the author's previous work. Desmond is a sympathetic and well-drawn protagonist, but the New York Times found Alex to be "something of a cartoon." Although most critics were moved by the story's development from a lighthearted comedy into a more serious exploration of aging and mortality, the New York Times Book Review faulted the book's shift away from Alex (and the potential for comic disaster) and toward Desmond's relationship with his dying father. Despite these minor criticisms, most readers should enjoy this well-written work by a veteran novelist.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I write mostly to note that DEAF SENTENCE is a very well written and structured novel.
R. M. Peterson
Rarely, oh, so rarely does a novel actually bring one to physical laughter but I have enjoyed laughing out loud many times while reading this novel.
Sidney Rosenberg
The main character would be interesting even if he weren't deaf, and his deafness adds poignancy that makes this book special.
Carol Orme-johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
David Lodge's "Deaf Sentence" is a seriocomic novel about a man whose quality of life is steadily declining. Desmond Bates, a former professor of linguistics, takes early retirement, mostly because of a hearing loss that began twenty years earlier. He suffers from "high-frequency deafness...caused by accelerated loss of the hair cells in the inner ear...." Since there is no treatment for this condition, Desmond resorts to hearing aids, which prove to be inconvenient and, in some circumstances, useless. As he dourly observes, "deafness is a kind of pre-death, a drawn-out introduction to the long silence into which we will all eventually lapse."

Now in his sixties, Desmond's existence settles into a boring routine. His wife, Winifred (whom he calls Fred), on the other hand, is rejuvenated, partly as a result of the flourishing new interior design business that takes up most of her time. Adding to his gloomy disposition is Desmond's concern for his eighty-nine year old father, Harry, who lives alone in London. Not only is Desmond's father also going deaf, but there are alarming signs that he is no longer able to care for himself adequately. Unfortunately, Harry refuses when Desmond offers to hire someone to look in on him and lend a hand with household chores.

"Deaf Sentence" is a deeply affecting novel that springs from the author's personal experience with high-frequency deafness. The book succeeds on many levels and is enhanced by Lodge's clever use of language, entertaining literary and cultural references, and vivid descriptive passages. One day, when Desmond is strolling across the campus where he used to teach, he encounters a horde of students pouring out of their classes. "I floated on their tide like a piece of academic wreckage," he muses with a hint of self-mockery.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Byerly Woodward on May 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just read the sweetest book. David Lodge is a British novelist and academic. Some of his very funny novels deal with visiting professors who have affairs with other professors while visiting campuses across the Atlantic. But this book wasn't like that at all. Deaf Sentence is about a retired linguistics professor who is losing his hearing. He is happily married to his second wife and dealing with an aging working class father. The book is well written and lively and I'm not giving anything away here. Sweet is actually my best description for it. Lodge lets his protagonist get into realistic difficulty but he doesn't let bad things ruin him. I really liked that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Murphy on January 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There is something appropriate about David Lodge writing on the ruefully comic trials and tribulations of deafness. He is a master chronicler of the seriocomic frustrations of daily life, whether it be the sexual frustrations of young Catholics post Vatican II in "How Far Can You Go," or the family frustrations of a beleagured grad student juggling the demands of home life and academia in "The British Museum is Falling Down."

"Deaf Sentence" is a work of fiction, but Lodge admits in a postscript that he drew on his own experience with hearing loss, as well as that of his father's, to tell the tale of Desmond Bates, a retired professor of linguistics attempting, with mitigated success, to navigate the world minus one reliable sense. The subject suits Lodge because "deafness is comic, as blindness is tragic," in the words of Bates (whose namesake is the hard-of-hearing Miss Bates from Jane Austen's "Emma"), and Lodge specializes in that particularly British brand of wry, dry humor, that is more appropriate to the mishaps of deaf-induced misunderstandings than the arguably bleaker fate of all-encompassing darkness.

"Deaf Sentence" touches on weighty topics like suicide, mortality, and bodily degeneration, but Lodge never lets the gloom overwhelm his highly cultivated taste for slapstick, wordplay, and the comic hijinks of a hapless hero. Lodge's Desmond is a humane, sympathetic portrait of a sixty-something man struggling to find meaning in his unstructured retirement, and human connection in spite of his isolating deafness. A visit to Auschwitz during a lecture tour reminds Desmond of the true nature of silence, that overpowering silence that is the silence of the tomb, or the silence of God. He writes, "Deafness is a kind of pre-death, a drawn-out introduction to the long silence into which we will all eventually lapse."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sue K. Lyon on December 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved the book. perhaps i am prejudiced because i am hearing impaired and wear 2 hearing aids, but i bought a copy for a friend(and wife) and both found it uproarious until it became terribly moving. my husband loved it as well and he hears perfectly. the one sentence i memorized and wrote down was"if there have been at various times in our life, trivial misunderstandings, now i see how one was unable to value the passing time". these are words i try to live by every day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Lodge's fiction ever since his second novel, _Ginger, You're Barmy,_ came out in 1962. His first few books were considered amusing but nothing special by the critics, but he hit his stride with _Changing Places_ in 1975. This latest work of fiction (because, as a professor of English, now retired, he has also written dense works on critical theory) is his fourteenth and it's an excellent example of how his early propensity for domestic comedy has evolved into commedia in almost the Dantean sense. Lodge is from southeast London but has spent all his adult academic life in Birmingham, and the present narrative, like several of his others, is set in both places. It's difficult to know how much of the detail of his books derives from his personal experiences but Desmond Bates, a retired professor of linguistics (not languages -- "it's a common mistake"), who is becoming more and more deaf, is certainly based on Lodge's own situation. In fact, the narrator's explicit puns on deafness (including the title) and the implicit frustration it causes him are very much the focus of the story. Though he's helped by high-tech hearing aids, and though more theaters are making wi-fi headphones available for deaf patrons, deafness makes social intercourse extremely difficult -- and yet it's not as dramatic and sympathy-drawing as blindness. It's hardly worth it to Desmond to try to teach, or to attend public functions or even dinner parties, since he misses so much now of what's going on. And since his somewhat younger second wife is becoming very successful with an upscale home decor business even as Desmond is entering the downside of his life, he feels even more isolated and frustrated.Read more ›
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