Shop Costumes Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Beauty Videos Introducing Handmade New Kitchen Scale from AmazonBasics Amazon Gift Card Offer redoaks redoaks redoaks  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now Learn more
The Lecturer's Tale: A Novel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $26.00
  • Save: $4.79 (18%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
The Lecturer's Tale: A No... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Lecturer's Tale: A Novel Paperback – February 9, 2002

64 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$3.40 $0.01

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst
"The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine" by Alex Brunkhorst
A modern-day Gatsby tale filled with unforgettable characters and charm. Learn more | See related books
$21.21 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Lecturer's Tale: A Novel
  • +
  • Straight Man: A Novel
Total price: $33.79
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Splicing a demonic strain into the usual elements of academic comedy, Hynes's novel, following his acclaimed Publish or Perish, reads like David Lodge rewritten by Mikhail Bulgakov. After Nelson Humboldt (the lecturer in question) is dismissed from his lowly position as a composition teacher at a Midwestern university, he suffers an accident that severs his right index finger. When the finger is surgically reattached, Nelson discovers he can magically control a person's behavior by touching them with his mysteriously burning digit. His first act is to get reappointed to his post by the woman who fired him--Victoria Victorinix. This is only the warmup. Someone is sending scurrilous anonymous letters to members of the department, and the department chairperson, Anthony Pescacane, has fingered the poet-in-residence, Timothy Coogan, as the man. Nelson "persuades" Coogan to resign, thus opening up a tenure-track position. This job, Nelson decides, should go to his office mate, Vita Deonne, a skittish woman working on "Dorian Gray's Lesbian Phallus." Nelson's new seat on the hiring committee puts him in a key spot to broker the ideological fracture in the department, which pits Morton Weissman's Arnoldian humanism against Pescacane's contingent of cultural theorists, who include a woman who shows porn films to her class and a bizarre Serb with a costume fetish. As Nelson, like some usurping Prospero, begins strategically to instill fear into his colleagues by changing their reality, he attracts the attention of Pescacane's departmental paramour, the luscious Mirando DeLa Tour. Nelson's support for Vita fades as he makes a self-interested pact with Victoria. He also, unforgivably, uses his finger to control his wife, Bridget. In Hynes's ferocious parable, partial power corrupts absolutely. Author tour. (Jan.)Forecast: As Jane Smiley's spoof of academia, Moo, and David Lodge's novels have shown, satires of academic manners can reflect the foibles of society at large. Hynes's witheringly literate dark comedy should be a campus hit this spring, and word of mouth potential could lead to mainstream sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This macabre, sort of magic realist satire takes dead aim at some of the pretensions of the academic world, notably among English professors. The protagonist is Nelson Humboldt, a once bright star in the English department at Midwest University but now reduced to teaching composition classes. Never one to publish much, Nelson's academic career is on the verge of perishing. That is until he realizes he has accidentally (in the literal sense) acquired a magic power over people that allows him to bend them to his will. Hynes paints a good picture of the paranoia of the junior faculty as well as the pomposity of New Critics, postmodernists, deconstructionists, and various types of gender benders. The book spins a little out of control by the conclusion, but by then he's achieved his goal of turning a likable character into a megalomaniac while still maintaining the reader's sympathy. Frank Caso
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (February 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312287712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312287719
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Hynes's previous book, "Publish and Perish," was an academic satire like "The Lecturer's Tale," but "P & P" had stronger supernatural elements, and in any case was composed of three discrete novellas. "The Lecturer's Tale" has more than a touch of the supernatural, too--indeed, spookiness is an essential part of the plot--but as a novel it's more of a unified whole, and consequently succeeds brilliantly as pure satire, with or without ghosts. In its merciless mockery of modern academic trends--literary theory, deconstruction, identity politics, and the like--and in its shrewd understanding of human ambition and the absurd machinations people resort to for the sake of promotion, fame, and the respect of others, "The Lecturer's Tale" stands head and shoulders above others in the genre. It makes Hynes a worthy claimant to the late Malcolm Bradbury's mantle as the dean of academic satirists. It certainly made this reader wary of ever having anything to do with university English departments. Yet, despite its mockery, it's not a mean-spirited book. Hynes is a compassionate writer, sometimes excessively so; indeed, one of the book's few weaknesses is the extent to which he occasionally bends over backward to demonstrate even-handedness, setting up somewhat clichéd villains such as the sexist drunken Irish bard and the supercilious old-school Jewish intellectual as if to emphasize the objectivity of his satirical vision elsewhere. But these are quibbles. Overall, "The Lecturer's Tale" is a masterpiece of plotting, satire, and storytelling, and a real page-turner to boot, with one or two comic sequences reminiscent not only of Bradbury but of Kingsley Amis at his most incisive.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ravenous Reader on December 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful sendup of academia, particularly Liberal Arts colleges and the whole field of literary criticism. The book is loaded with puns and literary references, which will be appreciated by the literate reader. Even the protagonist's name is a a joke ("Humbolt's Gift", a tip of the hat to Saul Bellow).
While this is a very funny satiric piece, it will probably appeal more to readers who have some exposure to academic life and the quest for tenure, or who have ever broken their teeth on murky postmodern literary crit. It is also fun to identify the real-life models for the archetypal denizens of the fictional Midwest University (The Canadian Lady Novelist can only be one person ...).
A highly recommended read, amusing to the point of farce, but clever enough to make you feel the author is winking at you. A "Moo U." for English departments.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Stanley H. Nemeth on December 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Hynes' satire, I'm afraid, has only genius, wit, and charm to recommend it. The indignities of being low man on the totem pole in an environment scrupulously bent on "caring" and other 12-step misplacements have never been set forth so hilariously yet ultimately movingly. The notion that if you're not among the currently fashionable elite (God forbid you should be a heterosexual white male who has his head on straight), you're ripe for guilt-free, even gleeful neglect and mistreatment is most convincingly conveyed through the twists and turns of the plot, which shows the ugliness of hierarchical power divorced from justice. Judgments toward underlings are applied on the basis of whim by those "enlightened" types who wield power. This novel, like recent ones by Roth, Prose, and Coetzee, in its representation of reality, albeit satiric, reveals much more than current academe, in its money grubbing complacency can admit, much less bear.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Once I began reading this hilarious book, I found it very difficult to put it down. It's one of the most enjoyable campus novels I've read in a while. Hynes's delicious, entertaining parodies of contemporary academics are, alas, spot-on: he's merciless when satirizing their narcissism, egomania, and jargon. A reader below said that the novel is an exaggerated version of academic life today, but that just shows that some readers are so absurdly literalist they can't recognize a satire even when it hits them over the head! The pity is that truth occasionally is stranger than this fiction. Hynes could have upped the ante still further, in other words, and he'd still be missing some of the more ridiculous aspects of academic life today. If only English professors weren't so easy to parody!
Fortunately for Hynes's readers, they are--and in this novel amusingly easy to identify. The ending is an obvious allegory--it clearly isn't meant to be taken literally, but the warning it conveys has a useful kick to it. Perhaps it might diminish some of the smugness of the people Hynes satirizes. Let's hope so.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Wyatt on January 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This disturbing and frightening novel could better serve the reader if it was twice as long; I could not get enough of it. I couldn't read it slowly enough because I wanted to get all the jokes and I couldn't read it quickly enough because the plot(s) took control of my fingers and moved the pages against my will. A campus novel and a Faustian replay is probably the last book most folks would want to read, but they'd be wrong as I could have been had I not been strangely drawn to the book at a friend's house. I opened at random and laughed out loud. She said she knew I would. And for a few hours and 388 pages I was lost to the rest of the world. Isn't that what we want out of a novel? Somewhere on this page there must be a button that for a modest consideration will send this book to your home. Put your finger on it and press it now. Fret not, I don't know the author from Adam.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The Lecturer's Tale: A Novel
This item: The Lecturer's Tale: A Novel
Price: $21.21
Ships from and sold by

Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: rollaway bed mattress, green velvet jacket, the university horror novel