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Complete Stories by Kingsley Amis

The Daily Telegraph reprints the new introduction to Complete Stories by Kingsley Amis, published this week by Penguin Modern Classics.

In Lucky Jim, Amis reprised the black comedy of Evelyn Waugh and reclothed it in the provincial workaday garb of the ordinary middle classes, and if in doing so he belied something of his artistic seriousness, he was rewarded for it with instant acclaim. His story of a young provincial university lecturer’s sufferings at the hands of academic bores, pretentious snobs, prissy disapproving women and spoiled, culturally elitist young men was a huge commercial and critical success. It laughed at everyone who needed laughing at in that cramped, class-bound decade; it gave a likeable validity to the new forms of life, to social and sexual freedoms which were shown as modest, funny, authentic.

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