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Small World Paperback – June 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140244867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140244861
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The unbridled greed, pettiness, buffoonery and intellectual gobbledygook in the world of higher scholarship are the topics of this thorough and thoroughly funny roman a' English department. It's interesting for a couple of reasons, aside from its humor and spoofiness: it's an insider's view of things -- always the best kind -- and it takes its old-fashioned time telling a story, complete with reasonable digressions about the state of literary criticism and what may or may not be a realistic view of the academic life.

About the Author

David Lodge is the author of twelve novels and a novella, including the Booker Prize finalists Small World and Nice Work. He is also the author of many works of literary criticism, including The Art of Fiction and Consciousness and the Novel.

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Customer Reviews

I recommend them wholeheartedly if, like me, you read for pleasure.
Book Worm
It starts off a little slow and many of the characters, while funny, are a bit predictable.
Elizabeth Hendry
Lodge has written many superb books, but this one just may be his best.
Robert Moore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am an academic and I must say that this book nails the academic world to the wall in a way that is somehow wicked and sweet at the same time. The pretension, the meanness, the self-absorption, the lack of social skills, the pettiness, the competition for attention and glory. All too true.
I especially enjoyed the clever superimposition of the Grail legend on a tale of modern English professors pursuing a UNESCO endowed chair that entails no academic duties. Persse McGarrigle (Percival), the Irish innocent. Morris Zapp (Merlin), the canny but cynical sage. Morgana Fulvia (Morgan le Fay), the decadent, hypocritical Italian witch. They and the others are all here playing their time-honored rolls.
The coincidences come so thick and fast in this book that you very quickly get used to them. It is a good joke to make the entire world as small as academia, a place where you run into the same people again and again whether you want to or not.
It was a pleasure to read a book whose prose was devoid of trickery, over-cleverness and gimmicks. Here is a modern novel in a world increasingly full of post-modern works that are too often little more than cleverly constructed rooms full of mirrors. Lodge makes several funny, well-deserved swipes at post-modernism's negative effect on literary criticism.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Russ Mayes VINE VOICE on January 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
I approached this book with a bit of trepidation, which I ought to explain before my review. Small World is sort of a sequel to Nice Work (it has some of the same characters and locations, but doesn't rely on knowledge of its predecessor). I read Nice Work a few years ago and was put off by it. It wasn't that I didn't find the satire on academia to be humorous. Rather, I thought it was a bit tasteless for someone who had spent most of his adult life employed by universities to turn around and write a satire that was (IMO) often bitter to the point of being unfair.
So, I wasn't sure I wanted to read Small World, though I had been assured it was a better book. I am glad I finally overcame my resistance and read it, because it is a much better book; indeed I think it is a very good book.
Small World is also a satire on academia, and while all the jacket blurbs talk about how biting the satire is, I didn't find that to be the case. Lodge seemed much more in tune and sympathetic with his characters, even as he skewers their antics. Also, the attacks in this novel seem less personal and more on literary studies as a profession.
I actually think Lodge has much bigger ambitions in this novel than writing an academic satire. His goal, it seems to me, is to package the history of the novel into a story in the form of an academic satire. So instead of a relatively simple, satirical plot (as in Nice Work), Lodge gives us a multitude of interwoven plots. He has a standard comic plot, but he also has a thriller plot, several varieties of romantic plots, a few mistaken identity plots, a foundling plot, a reunion plot and probably several others I'm forgetting. As the characters move around the world, they move in and out of the various plots.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Cheng on August 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Once you start to read David Lodge, you are hooked and would want more. I started with his newest book "Thinks" and ended up reading him nonstop. So far I have read "Home Truths", "Changin Places", "Practice of Writing" and then "Small World". I plan to read on. "Small World" is the best academic satire I have read; it is funny, pereptive and very true. Even on gloomy sleepless nights, it made me laugh so loud that I constantly startled my two poor dogs. They looked at me with their sleepy eyes and wagged their tails in bewilderment. Too bad to be a dog that you cannot appreciate such good and funny stuff.
Having been a literature student and known many academics, I have been constantly struck by the sense of recognition. Lodge writes with his profound knowledge in literature and and his insight in people in the field of literarute. The pretentiousness in that world is mercilessly satirized. And the holy canon is hilariously and wonderfully parodized.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
SMALL WORLD easily takes its place among the very finest books ever written about academia. This provokes the question: Why are there so few novels, good or bad, on the world of higher education? A huge number of novelists and writers have attended graduate school, many are themselves teachers or professors, and yet the number of first-rate books covering the world of scholars are rare. Off the top of my head, I can think of Kinsley Amis's LUCKY JIM, A. S. Byatt's POSSESSION, John Barth's GILES GOAT BOY, Robertson Davies CORNISH TRILOGY, and several other novels by David Lodge, including the prequel to SMALL WORLD, CHANGING PLACES. I should also add Malcolm Bradbury's THE HISTORY MAN and magnificent parody MY STRANGE QUEST FOR MENSONGE. Many novels have characters attending college or university at some point, but as a whole it is a genre that is underrepresented.
Even if novels on academic life were plentiful, this one would stand out. Lodge has written many superb books, but this one just may be his best. It was also one of the first to be widely available in the US. I still remember vividly in the 1980s having to search out Penguin editions published in Canada because he was largely unavailable in the US.
The novel features some of the characters we came to know in CHANGING PLACES, including Philip Swallow and Morris Zapp, and takes place to a large extent at a number of academic conferences. Although a first-hand acquaintance with higher education isn't a prerequisite, anyone who has been to graduate school or taught will find a host of familiar characters and situation. Lodge magnificently lampoons the intellectual posturing and gamesmanship that fills the small world of the scholar. The novel manages to be both accurate and quite funny at the same time.
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