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Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses Paperback – October 25, 1979
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From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Anyone intrigued by differences between American and British academic institutions will find this an amusing and accurate send-up. David Lodge, portraying two American and British professors who replace one another at their respective institutions, gives greed, pettiness, and pretense full rein.
David Lodge's sharply funny trilogy set in academe toggles between the very American Euphoria State University and the utterly British University of Rummidge. -- Entertainment Weekly
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"His soul, like his stomach, was in turmoil. Melanie's casual compliance with his tired, clumsy lust seemed, in retrospect, shocking, moving, exciting, baffling. He couldn't guess what significance she might attach to the event; and didn't know, therefore, how to behave when they next met. But, he reminded himself, holding his throbbing head in both hands, problems of etiquette were secondary to problems of ethics. The basic question was: did he want to do it again?"
CHANGING PLACES is aptly named, since this campus novel and satire shows two professors, who are opposites in almost every respect, assuming each other's faculty positions in an exchange program and then acquiring loving roles in each other's family and marriage. IMHO, this dynamic works well when the funny David Lodge is exploring the politics and pressures of academic life or the strum und drang (or boredom) of marriage. This dynamic also enables Lodge to present both a cynic's and innocent's reaction to 1960's-style political agitation. Even so, Lodge's satire eventually migrates to the zone of total improbability, where it devolves into farce. Then, his narrative seems clever but not especially insightful.
In CHANGING PLACES, Lodge, the literary man, sometimes winks at his readers. At one point, for example, the spouses are exchanging letters. In one, Hilary Swallow writes: "Do you still want me to send on "Let's Write a Novel"? There's a whole chapter on how to write an epistolary novel, but surely nobody's done that since the eighteenth century?" In the meantime, Lodge writes two long chapters in epistolary style. And, Philip Swallow, a la Moses Herzog, actively composes many funny letters in his mind.
Likewise, Lodge writes his final chapter in the style of a movie script, where one character says: "You sound like a couple of script writers discussing how to wind up a play." Finally, an insight in "Let's Write a Novel" is: "The best kind of story is the one with a happy ending; the next best is the one with an unhappy ending, and the worst kind is the story that has no ending at all." Naturally, this is the ending Lodge chooses for CHANGING PLACES.
One day, I will surely read SMALL WORLD and NICE WORK, the two remaining books in Lodge's THE CAMPUS TRILOGY. And when doing so, I'll expect good books that are more clever than deep.
The story opens on flights and lives traveling in quite oppostie directions in January 1969. We learn something about the protagonists en route. Loosely disguised state universities in California and England serve as the temporary homes for our heroes, professors Zapp and Swallow. The former well-respected, well-paid and well-fed, the latter just tryig to hang on. Their exchange experiences mirror one another in many respects, and soon the left-behind wives and children are part of their new lives. Lodge uses letters, news articles, narrative and a movie script to shine the spotlight on academe. Clever twists and observations on the times make this a fast, fun read.
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For me, the book has a nice glow of nostalgia.Read more