Lodge, David 1935–

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Lodge, David 1935–

(David John Lodge)

PERSONAL: Born January 28, 1935, in London, England; son of William Frederick (a musician) and Rosalie Marie (Murphy) Lodge; married Mary Frances Jacob, May 16, 1959; children: Julia, Stephen, Christopher. Education: University College, London, B.A. (with first class honors), 1955, M.A., 1959; University of Birmingham, Ph.D., 1967. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, television, cinema.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of English, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, England. Agent—Curtis Brown Ltd., 28-29 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP, England.

CAREER: British Council, London, England, assistant, 1959–60; University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, lecturer, 1960–71, senior lecturer, 1971–73, reader, 1973–76, professor of modern English literature, 1976–87, professor emeritus, 1987–. Visiting associate professor, University of California, Berkeley, 1969. Military service: Royal Armoured Corps., 1955–57.

AWARDS, HONORS: Harkness Commonwealth fellowship, 1964–65, for study and travel in the United States; Yorkshire Post fiction prize and Hawthornden Prize, both 1975, for Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses; Royal Society of Literature fellowship, 1976; Henfield writing fellow, University of East Anglia, 1977; Whitbread Award for fiction and for book of the year, 1980, for How Far Can You Go?; Sunday Express Book of the Year, 1989, for Nice Work; Royal Television Society award for best drama serial and Silver Nymph for best mini-series screenplay, Monte Carlo International TV Festival, both 1990, for Nice Work.



Language of Fiction, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1966.

Graham Greene, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1966.

The Novelist at the Crossroads and Other Essays on Fiction and Criticism, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1971.

Evelyn Waugh, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1971.

The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy and the Typology of Modern Literature, Cornell University Press, 1977.

Modernism, Antimodernism, and Postmodernism, University of Birmingham, 1977.

Working with Structuralism: Essays and Reviews on Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literature, Rout-ledge (Boston, MA), 1981.

Write On: Occasional Essays, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1986.

After Bakhtin: Essays on Fiction and Criticism, Routledge (London, England), 1990.

The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts, Secker & Warburg, 1992, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

The Practice of Writing: Essays, Lectures, Reviews, and a Diary, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1996.

Consciousness and the Novel: Connected Essays, Harvard University Press (Boston, MA), October 2002.


The Picturegoers, MacGibbon Kee, 1960, new edition, Penguin (London, England), 1993.

Ginger, You're Barmy, MacGibbon, Kee, 1962, Double-day (New York, NY), 1965, reprinted with a new introduction by the author, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1982.

The British Museum Is Falling Down, MacGibbon, Kee, 1965, Holt (London, England), 1967, reprinted with a new introduction by the author, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1981.

Out of the Shelter, Macmillan (Basingstoke, England), 1970, revised edition, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1985, revised edition with an introduction by the author, Penguin (New York, NY), 1989.

Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1975, Penguin, 1979.

How Far Can You Go?, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1980, published as Souls and Bodies, Morrow (New York, NY), 1982.

Small World: An Academic Romance, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1984, Macmillan (Basing-stoke, England), 1985.

Nice Work, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1988, Viking (New York, NY), 1989.

Paradise News, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1991, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.

Therapy, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Home Truths: A Novella, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1999, Penguin (New York, NY), 2000.

Thinks, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Author, Author, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.


Jane Austen's "Emma": A Casebook, Macmillan (Basingstoke, England), 1968.

(And author of introduction) Jane Austen, Emma, Oxford University Press, 1971, revised edition, Macmillan (Basingstoke, England), 1991.

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism: A Reader, Longman (London, England), 1972.

George Eliot, Scenes of Clerical Life, Penguin (New York, NY), 1973.

Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders, Macmillan (Basing-stoke, England), 1974.

Henry James, The Spoils of Poynton, Penguin (New York, NY), 1987.

Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader, Longman, 1988, revised by Nigel Wood, Longman, 1999.


(With Malcolm Bradbury and James Duckett) Between These Four Walls, produced in Birmingham, England, 1963.

(With James Duckett and David Turner) Slap in the Middle, produced in Birmingham, England, 1965.

The Writing Game: A Comedy (produced in Birmingham, England, 1990, and Cambridge, MA, 1991), Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1991.


About Catholic Authors (juvenile), St. Paul Press, 1958. (Author of introduction) The Best of Ring Lardner, Dent, 1984.

Martin Chuzzlewit (television mini-series; based on the novel by Charles Dickens), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1994.

Contributor to The State of the Language, edited by Leonard Michaels and Christopher Ricks, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1980. Also contributor of articles and reviews to Critical Quarterly, Tablet, Times Literary Supplement, New Republic, New York Times Book Review, New York Review of Books, and Encounter.

ADAPTATIONS: Nice Work was adapted by the BBC as a television mini-series in 1989; The Writing Game was adapted for television, 1996.

SIDELIGHTS: David Lodge is known to general readers as a novelist whose works, while often treating serious themes, are "exuberant" and "marvelously funny," in the words of New York Times Book Review contributor Michael Rosenthal. The settings and characters of Lodge's novels reflect his own life experiences, including a childhood in wartime London, a stint in the British Army, study as a graduate student, and work as a university professor. His Roman Catholic upbringing has profoundly influenced his fiction as well. "Most of his novels have at least some Catholic statement in them," noted Dennis Jackson in Dictionary of Literary Biography, and "one of the recurrent themes in Lodge's stories is the struggle of his Catholic characters to reconcile their spiritual and sensual desires."

Lodge began work on his first published novel while completing his service in the British Army. Published in 1960 as The Picturegoers, this book describes a group of Catholics living in a dingy London suburb and the changes they experience over the course of a year. The thoughts and dreams of over a dozen characters are revealed through their reactions to the films they watch regularly in the crumbling local cinema, focusing most sharply on Mark Underwood, a thoughtful young literature student who has fallen away from the church. While finishing school, Mark boards with the Mallory family and becomes enamored of Clare Mallory, a former convent novice. As he attempts to seduce her, she attempts to reawaken his faith. In an ironic conclusion, Clare, having fallen in love with Mark, offers herself to him, but he rejects her to join the priesthood. Some reviewers fault the book as disconnected and overburdened with characters, but "for a first novel, The Picturegoers is eminently lively and readable," believed Jackson. Lodge's "alternation of diction, tone, and rhythm as he shifts from … the inner thoughts of one character to those of another seems particularly impressive." In addition, "a lot of it is quite funny," wrote Maurice Richardson in New Statesman.

An "act of revenge" is Lodge's description of his next book, wrote Jackson. Ginger, You're Barmy grew out of the author's years in the army, an experience he bitterly resented. The tedium, brutality, and dehumanizing atmosphere of life in the service are evoked with a "total recall" that is "unnerving," according to New Statesman contributor Christopher Ricks. The novel's tension is provided by the contrast between the narrator, Jonathan Browne, and his friend, Mike "Ginger" Brady. Jonathan is a cynical intellectual, a former university student who concentrates on living through his two-year hitch with as little trouble as possible. Mike, on the other hand, is a passionate, idealistic fighter who eventually becomes involved with the Irish Revolutionary Army. Ultimately, Jonathan betrays Mike, stealing his girlfriend and playing a key part in his arrest. Critics have noted similarities in style and subject matter between Lodge's novels and Graham Greene's, and Lodge later acknowledged that he had modeled Ginger, You're Barmy after Greene's The Quiet American.

Some reviewers, while conceding that Lodge has portrayed army life convincingly, felt that Ginger, You're Barmy is plagued by stereotypes and a predictable storyline. "The story has been told so often that merely to tell it again is not enough," maintained Chad Walsh in Washington Post Book World. But Thomas P. McDonnell countered in a Commonweal review: "Some reviewers have passed off Ginger, You're Barmy as the same old thing about life in the army, but it is a much better book than they are readers. They are certainly unknowing in the ways of military life if they do not realize that extreme regimentation all but forces a reversion to types…. They have missed, certainly, that it is a beautifully written book, and that its marvelously controlled first-person orientation lifts it out of the mere melodrama that they were no doubt expecting to read in just another book about life in the army…. Mostly, I think, they have missed … a poignancy in crisis and denouement, no less, that you will be hard put to find anywhere in the reams of overblown nihilism which passes for fiction today."

Lodge followed Ginger, You're Barmy with The British Museum Is Falling Down, a book which "represented a real development in his career as a writer of fiction," according to Jackson. It was the first of the highly comic, satiric novels which were to become his trademark, and it embodies one of Lodge's recurring themes, that of the sincere Catholic struggling with the difficulties imposed on him by the rigid doctrines of his church—specifically, the complexities of the unreliable "rhythm" method of birth control, the only form of contraception permitted to Catholics. The novel details one day in the life of Adam Appleby, a harried graduate student who has already fathered three children while using the rhythm method. When Adam awakes that day, his wife Barbara confides that she may again be pregnant, sending Adam out into a day of pandemonium much like Leopold Bloom's in James Joyce's Ulysses. "Like Leopold Bloom, Adam—because of the domestic and academic pressures he is facing—becomes increasingly disoriented as his day progresses, and his perceptions of life around him become increasingly phantasmagoric," wrote Jackson.

After a day of countless mishaps, hallucinations, and anxious telephone calls to Barbara, Adam returns home to make love to his wife. Immediately thereafter, their "day of alarm [is] clinched by the arrival of her period," noted Commonweal contributor Paul West. The book concludes with a long, one-sentence monologue by Barbara (patterned after Molly Bloom's in Ulysses). West reported that this "night-reverie … twists the preceding comedy by the tail, gives it a depth and resonance." Lodge's skillful blend of humor and thoughtful discourse was also praised by Jackson, who wrote: "The British Museum Is Falling Down is unceasingly and vigorously funny…. Yet throughout the book serious undertones give emphasis and point to the author's general levity. His comic and satiric treatment of the current Catholic indecision over family planning is not a frontal attack on the church itself but rather a good-natured tickling meant to evoke laughter and a serious new consideration of the effect of the Catholic ban on artificial contraception on couples such as the Apple-bys."

A strong Joycean influence is again evident in Lodge's fourth novel, Out of the Shelter. This story of a young man's maturation opens with a stream-of-consciousness narrative inspired by the beginning of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The plot follows Timothy Anderson through his childhood in London during the Blitzkrieg to his coming of age on a summer holiday in postwar Germany. Jackson judged this to be Lodge's least successful novel, pointing out that "the book lacks intensity; it has no sharply drawn conflict or dramatic tension, and, for most of the story, the only real suspense has to do with this question of how and when Timothy will learn about sex." Nevertheless, Times Literary Supplement critic Christopher Hawtree found that "Timothy's development is chronicled with a fine sense of pace, the tone of the narrative reflecting his changing attitudes," and Philip Howard called Out of the Shelter "a charming period piece, heavy with nostalgia for vanished childhood" in the London Times.

In 1969, immediately after finishing Out of the Shelter, Lodge and his family traveled to the United States, where the author was to be a visiting professor for two terms at the University of California in Berkeley. It was a time of unrest on campuses everywhere, and Lodge's American stay was punctuated by student strikes and sometimes-bloody altercations between students and National Guardsmen. Although student protests were also occurring in England, they were of a much milder nature. Lodge's fascination with the differences between the two cultures led to his fifth novel, Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses. Eliciting positive responses from almost all reviewers, Changing Places won two major prizes and boosted Lodge's popularity considerably.

A university exchange program provides the premise for Changing Places. Aggressive, flamboyant Morris Zapp leaves his post at the State University of Euphoria (a thinly disguised Berkeley) to trade places with timid, unambitious Philip Swallow from the dreary University of Rummidge in the English Midlands. Eventually they exchange cars, homes, and wives as well. Prior to the switch, both Zapp and Swallow have suffered from failing marriages and stagnating careers, but each finds a new identity and flourishes in his new surroundings. Neil Hepburn wrote in Listener that Zapp and Swallow's parallel stories provide "a series of reflections, both on and of the two worlds—reflections on symmetry, on the novel as a reflection of reality, on the way real troubles like Vietnam and the Prague Spring are reflected in unreal ones like student unrest, on narrative techniques and literary styles … and, finally, on America and England as reflections of each other. No funnier or more penetrating account of the special relationship is likely to come your way for a long time."

Zapp and Swallow appear again in Small World: An Academic Romance, another "campus novel" and one of Lodge's best-selling books. In Small World, they are only two of the many characters who jet around the globe from one academic conference to another in search of glory, romantic trysts, and the UNESCO chair of literary criticism—a job with virtually no responsibilities and a $100,000 tax-free salary. Rosenthal wrote in the New York Times Book Review: "[This] exuberant, marvelously funny novel demonstrates [that] no one is better able to treat the peripatetic quality of current academic life than the British writer David Lodge…. Despite the novel's breathless pace, profusion of incident and geographic scope, Mr. Lodge never loses control of his material. His deliberately outrageous manipulation of character and event is entirely successful."

While Changing Places cemented Lodge's reputation as a popular novelist in England, it was only the first of his books to attract much notice in the United States. Widespread attention in America did not come to Lodge until the publication of his sixth novel, How Far Can You Go?, which appeared in the United States under the title Souls and Bodies. Jackson believed that How Far Can You Go? represents a "circling back over thematic grounds covered in [Lodge's] earlier novels," now handled in a more accomplished fashion by the mature novelist. As in The Picturegoers, The British Museum Is Falling Down, and Out of the Shelter, the focus is on the sexual and religious evolution of a group of English Catholic characters, treated in a comic fashion. The changes that Lodge's characters experience over the book's twenty-year time span present "a panoramic view of the vast changes effected inside the church during the era spanning the 1950s up to Pope John Paul II's installation in the late 1970s," wrote Jackson.

Lodge uses a large cast of characters to illuminate the many aspects of a Catholic upbringing in How Far Can You Go? Some critics disliked what they saw as a collection of stereotypes, but Le Anne Schreiber pointed out in the New York Times: "By drafting his characters … into service as prototypes of every variant of Catholic experience, the author does at times lose something vital, but, in recompense, we get a very thorough crash course in modern Catholicism, including an introduction to process theology, the charismatic movement and the debates over priestly celibacy and the ordination of women…. Mr. Lodge has written a book full of his own energy, intelligence, wit, compassion and anger."

To incorporate explications of Catholic doctrine, Lodge also uses narrative asides and other unconventional fictional devices in How Far Can You Go? Some critics find these intrusive, such as Paul Theroux, whose New York Times Book Review article indicated that the book is best when Lodge "forgets he is a Professor of Modern English literature, ditches the arch tone and all the mannerisms and begins to believe in these characters." Others felt that Lodge's narrative musings give his book added depth and power. Nicholas Shrimpton explained in a New Statesman piece: "How Far Can You Go? is at its best at those moments when an intimate link is established between theological debate and personal life. The real hero of the novel is the pill, and Lodge's picture of these couples struggling to come to terms with it hovers delicately between tragedy and farce."

Lodge's next campus novel, Nice Work, is set in Rum-midge, England, in 1986 and centers on Robyn Pen-rose, a temporary university literature teacher who is in search of a permanent teaching position. The year 1986 is deemed "Industry Year," and Penrose has been chosen by the university vice-chancellor to visit Vic Wilcox, the manager of a local engineering firm, once a week to learn more about the world of work. Vic, wrote Hilary Mantel in the New York Review of Books, "is a repository of ridiculous prejudices at which Lodge invites us to laugh, as elsewhere he invites us to laugh at Robyn's pretensions, at her equally naive world view." Anthony Quinn further commented on the contrast between the two characters in New Statesman & Society, stating that "Robyn is erudite and sophisticated, a justice-for-all idealogue, yet she's also snobbish and doctrinaire. Vic is a hard-headed, Daily Mail-reading chauvinist whom we ought to dislike, but beneath his boorishness lurks a gruff sort of chivalry." While some critics faulted Nice Work, calling the plot, as Quinn stated, "a convenient device for a face-off between two disparate ideologies," others applauded its humor and even-handed treatment of two contradictory personalities.

Writing about Paradise News, Lodge's next novel, Susan Miron of the Christian Science Monitor stated, "Lodge's fascination with the complex social rift between classes, between men and women, and between Americans and the British continues." The work centers on Bernard Walsh, a former Catholic priest and now a theology teacher, who receives a telephone call from his long-lost aunt Ursula asking him to come to Hawaii, where she is dying of cancer. Bernard travels with his father, who, while on the island, gets hit by a car driven by a middle-aged woman named Yolande. By the end of the novel, Yolande and Bernard become involved and Bernard's father reconciles with his sister. Bette Pesetsky observed in the New York Times Book Review that Lodge "bravely uses coincidence and contrivance to tie up loose ends. And just under the surface of the spirited and often comic adventures of his travelers he runs an undercurrent of understanding about their longings for the perfection of paradise." Michael Dirda of Washington Post Book World also noted that Lodge "persistently takes on some of the grimmest of subjects,… death, the loss of faith, sexual dysfunction, and unhappy families being unhappy in their own ways."

"Like his characters, Lodge is searching for faith and his religion," wrote John Podhoretz in New Republic. "We have grown so accustomed to those highly praised novels in which adolescents discover sexual freedom, irrational violence wreaks its consequences on a wise but hapless hero, and the struggle of life is reduced to a battle between superego and id, that a good novel about a few people merely trying to get by may seem a rather small achievement. If so, then perhaps we have lost sight of the value and purpose of fiction…. The modern popular novel has devoted itself to the body alone; Lodge joins an honorable and great tradition by restoring the primacy of the soul in fiction."

The novel Therapy was released in 1995. The tale is of Tubby Passmore, a successful television writer, who pursues a number of types of therapy, among them cognitive therapy, acupressure, and aromatherapy, to allay his depression. Paula Chin for People wrote "Lodge infuses nearly every page with his relentless intelligence and dry wit." James Bowman for National Review ended his critique with "This is a wonderful novel." In Home Truths, a novella published in 2000, Lodge "skewers the media's voracious relationship with celebrity culture at the same time it examines a writer's responsibility to his talent," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly.

Ralph Messenger and Helen Reed are the British academics whose destinies collide at the fictitious University of Gloucester in Lodge's 2001 novel Thinks. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised its "gentle satire, vigorous intelligence, sometimes ribald humor and a perspicacious understanding of the human condition." An Atlantic Monthly critic called the work "a smart, seductive novel of ideas." Author, Author, released in 2004, portrays the novelist Henry James as he struggles to achieve literary recognition. Lodge focuses on James's rivalry with his friend George du Maurier, whose novel Trilby took the world by storm in the 1890s when James's novels were largely ignored.

Lodge's works of literary criticism include After Bakhtin: Essays on Fiction and Criticism and The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts. The first work is more academic and, as Lee Zimmerman noted in San Francisco Review of Books, "moves from 'fairly long broad-ranging exercises in Bakhtinian criticism' to more or less Bakhtinian studies of particular texts and authors illustrative of developments in the novel between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries." The latter work, according to Hilary Mantel in the Spectator, "is a kind of readers' handbook, a book about literary criticism for the not-too-critical." Critical reaction to After Bakhtin was generally favorable, with Zimmerman observing that if "Lodge hasn't completely solved the 'puzzle' at the heart of Bakhtin's thought, in my view, he has produced a provocative and engaging piece of work—'critical theory and all that' at its unpedantic best." Reviewers also praised The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts, albeit for different reasons. This work, noted Mantel, "can be seen as a brave attempt to build a bridge between today's reader and today's writer—whose interests, sometimes, seem irreconcilable. It is almost jargon-free, and it is entertaining, wise and well-organized."

In 1996, The Practice of Writing: Essays, Lectures, Reviews, and a Diary was released. Composed of essays culled from lectures, essays, and the like, Lodge writes about how writers write. It is not a work of criticism, but it does contain reviews of some authors, such as Vladimir Nabokov, Kingsley Amis, Anthony Burgess, and Graham Greene. W.M. Hagen for World Literature Today related that he had to "remind myself to take notes for this review. David Lodge writes criticism like the good novelist he is." A critic for Publishers Weekly wrote, "The … book … should be required reading in any creative writing class not bogged down in dogma…. Here is a collection that is both engaging and useful."

Consciousness and the Novel: Connected Essays, published in 2002, summarizes Lodge's views on consciousness research and how the human psyche is refracted by the imagination in specific literary works. Ulrich Baer, reviewing for Library Journal, faulted the novelist for a lack of originality and for reworking terrain and arguments "overly familiar from his previous studies. Lodge's prose is perfectly pleasant to read but neither particularly elegant nor sufficiently idiosyncratic to engage a reader fully."

Regarding his career as a novelist and a literary critic, Lodge once noted: "I've always maintained the two careers more or less in tandem, and I've tried to write a novel and a book of criticism alternately over the last twenty years. It grew out of the fact that my interest in writing was triggered by reading, as with most people, and getting some pleasure and satisfaction out of criticism as well as writing my own work and then wanting to continue the study of literature. All along I think I saw my literary career as a writer-critic, alternating and combining both types of discourse. As I get older, in a way I find creative writing more interesting, more of a challenge, more unpredictable—and more anxiety-making, but in the end, more satisfying."



Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

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Atlantic Monthly, April, 1996, p. 119; June, 2001, review of Thinks, p. 104.

Christian Science Monitor, April 14, 1992, p. 13.

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Critique, summer, 1994, p. 237.

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Punch, March 21, 1984.

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