- industrial novel
- campus novel
- midlife crisis
- academic world
- human values
- Thatcher era
David Lodge´s Nice work is a novel of opposites: the antagonistic character´s Vic Wilcox, manager of an engineering company, and Robyn Penrose, a feminist university teacher specialized in the 19th century novel, are forced to interact and get on well due to a governmental initiative called the shadow scheme which has been conceived to promote a better understanding between the pragmatic industrial and the static University worlds.
Vic lives obsessed by financial results and, having reached the equator of his life, he finds himself in a profound existential crisis caused by the estrangement from his kids and a sense of boredom towards his wife which head him toward a senseless existence.
Robyn, on the other hand, in her mid thirties, lives a vital life and struggles to be able to make her living in the difficult academic world.
Her humanist approach to life collides to such a point with the inhuman and utilitarian decisions she observes in the business surrounding, that she involuntarily provokes a general strike of Vic´s employees. Vic´s exasperation is only softened when Robyn gains a highly beneficial purchase contract thanks to her linguistic abilities.
David Lodge makes fun of ingenuity and idealism of humanism but also of lack of humanism and senselessness of business world.
By the end of the novel both characters have expanded their horizons as a result of an interchange of ideas, experiences and passions. They have gained new perspectives and get the strength to take vital decisions that bring them closer to happier, more complete lives.
Male-female, industry-university, business ethics-humanism, capitalism-idealism: opposites that produce an enrichment and dignifying of our lives when united and that lead to poorer and more senseless lives when just concentrating on one of the opposites
Texto de Muestra
Monday, January 13th, 1986. Victor Wilcox lies awake, in the dark bedroom, waiting for his quartz alarm clock to bleep. It is set to do this at 6.45. How long he has to wait he doesn't know. He could easily find out by groping for the clock, lifting it to his line of vision, and pressing the button that illuminates the digital display. But he would rather not know. Supposing it is only six o'clock? Or even f i ve? It could be five. Whatever it is, he won't be able to get to sleep again. This has become a regular occurrence lately: lying awake in the dark, waiting for the alarm to bleep,. worrying.
Worries streak towards him like enemy spaceships in one of Gary's video games. He flinches, dodges, zaps them with instant solutions, but the assault is endless: the Avco account, the Rawlinson account, the price of pig-iron, the value of the pound, the competition from Foundrax, the incompetence of his Marketing Director, the persistent breakdowns of the core blowers, the vandalizing of the toilets in the fettling shop, the pressure from his divisional boss, last month's accounts, the quarterly forecast, the annual review ...
In an effort to escape this bombardment, perhaps even to doze awhile, he twists on to his side, burrows into the warm plump body of his wife, and throws an arm round her waist. Startled, but still asleep, drugged with Valium, Marjorie swivels to face him. Their noses and foreheads bump against each other; there is a sudden flurry of limbs, an absurd pantomime struggle. Marjorie puts up her fists like a pugilist, groans and pushes him away. An object slides off the bed on her side and falls to the floor with a
He rolls away from Marjorie, who, now lying on her back, begins to snore faintly. He envies her that deep unconsciousness, but cannot afford to join her in it. Once, desperate for a full night's sleep, he had accepted her offer of a Valium, sluicing it down with his usual nightcap, and moved about the next morning like a diver walking on the seabed. He made a mistake of two percentage points in a price for steering-boxes for British Leyland before .his head cleared. You shouldn't have mixed it with whisky, Marjorie said. You don't need both. Then I'll stick to whisky, he said. The Valium lasts longer, she said. Too bloody long, if you ask me, he said. I lost the firm five thousand pounds this morning, thanks to you. Oh, it's my fault, is it? she said, and her lower lip began to tremble. Then to stop her crying, anything to stop that, he had to buy her the set of antiquelook brass fire-irons she had set her heart on for the lounge, to give an extra touch of authenticity to the rustic stone i f replace and the imitation-log gas fire.
Marjorie's snores become louder. Vic gives her a rude, exasperated shove. The snoring stops but, surprisingly, she does not wake. In other rooms his three children are also asleep. Outside, a winter gale blusters against the sides of the house and swishes the branches of trees to and fro. He feels like the captain of a sleeping ship, alone at the helm, steering his oblivious crew through dangerous seas. He feels as if he is the only man awake in the entire world.
The alarm clock cheeps.
Instantly, by some perverse chemistry of his body or nervous system, he feels tired and drowsy, reluctant to leave the warm bed. He presses the snooze button on the clock with a practised finger and falls effortlessly asleep. Five minutes later, the alarm wakes him again, cheeping insistently like a mechanical bird. Vic sighs, hits the Off button on the clock, switches on his bedside lamp (its dimmer control turned low for Marjorie's sake), gets out of bed and paddles through the deep pile of the bedroom carpet to the en, suite bathroom, making sure the connecting door is closed before he turns on the light inside.
Vic pees, a task requiring considerable care and accuracy since the toilet bowl is low-slung and tapered in shape. He does not greatly care for the dark purplish bathroom suite ('Damson', the estate agent's brochure had called the shade) but it had been one of the things that attracted Marjorie when they bought the house two years ago - the bathroom, with its kidney-shaped handbasin and goldplated taps and sunken bath and streamlined loo and bidet. And, above all, the fact that it was `en suite'. I've always wanted an en suite bathroom, she would say to visitors, to her friends on the phone, to, he wouldn't be surprised, tradesmen on the doorstep or strangers she accosted in the street. You would think `en suite' was the most beautiful phrase in any language, the lengths Marjorie went to introduce it into her conversation. If they made a perfume called En Suite, she would wear it.
Vic shakes the last drops from his penis, taking care not to sprinkle the shaggy pink nylon fitted carpet, and flushes the toilet. The house has four toilets, a cause of concern to Vic's father. FOUR toilets? he said, when first shown over the house. Did I count right? What's the matter, Dad? Vic teased. Afraid the water-table will go down if we flush them all at once? No, but what if they start metering water, eh? Then you'll be in trouble. Vic tried to argue that it didn't make any difference how many toilets you had, it was the number of times you flushed them that mattered, but his father was convinced that having so many toilets was an incitement to unnecessary peeing, therefore to excessive l f ushing.
He could be right, at that. At Gran's house, a back-toback in Easton with an outside toilet, you didn't go unless you really had to, especially in the winter. Their own house in those days, a step up the social ladder from Gran's, had its own indoor toilet, a dark narrow room off the halflanding that always niffed a bit, however much Sanilav and Dettol his mother poured into the bowl. He remembered vividly that yellowish ceramic bowl with the trademark `Challenger', the big varnished wooden seat that was always pleasantly warm to the bum, and a long chain dangling from the high cistern with a sponge-rubber ball, slightly perished, on the end of it.
He used to practise heading, l f icking the ball from wall to wall, as he sat there, a constipated schoolboy. His mother complained of the marks on the distemper. Now he is the proud owner of four toilets - damson, avocado, sunflower and white, all centrally heated. Probably as good an index of success as any.
He steps on to the bathroom scales. Ten stone, two ounces. Quite enough for a man only five feet, five and a half inches tall. Some say - Vic has overheard them saying it - that he tries to compensate for.his short stature by his aggressive manner. Well, let them. If it wasn't for a bit of aggression, he wouldn't be where he is now. Though how long he will stay there is far from certain. Vic frowns in the mirror above the handbasin, thinking again of last month's accounts, the quarterly forecast, the annual review ... He runs hot water into the dark purple bowl, lathers his face with shaving foam from an aerosol can, and begins to scrape his jaw with a safety razor, using a Wilkinson's Sword blade. Vic believes fervently in buying British, and has frequent rows with his eldest son, Raymond, who favours a disposable plastic razor manufactured in France. Not that this is the only bone of contention between them, no, not by a long chalk. The principal constraint on the number of their disagreements is, indeed, the comparative rarity of their encounters, Raymond invariably being asleep when Vic leaves for work and out when he returns home.
Vic wipes the tidemark of foam from his cheeks and i f ngers the shaven flesh appraisingly. Dark brown eyes stare back at him. Who am I?
He grips the washbasin, leans forward on locked arms, and scans the square face, pale under a forelock of lank brown hair, flecked with grey, the two vertical furrows in the brow like a clip holding the blunt nose in place, the straight-ruled line of the mouth, the squared-off jaw. You know who you are: it's all on file at Division.
Wilcox: Victor Eugene. Date of Birth: 19 Oct. 1940. Place of Birth: Easton, Rummidge, England. Education: EndwellRoadPrimary School, Easton; EastonGrammar School for Boys; RummidgeCollege of Advanced Technology. MI Mech. Eng. 1964. Marital Status: married (to Marjorie Florence Coleman, 1964). Children: Raymond (b. 1966), Sandra (b. 1969), Gary (b. 1972). Career: 1962-64, apprentice, Vanguard Engineering; 1964-66, Junior Production Engineer, Vanguard Engineering; 1966-70, Senior Engineer, Vanguard Engineering; 1970-74, Production Manager, Vanguard Engineering; 1974-78, Manufacturing Manager, Lewis & Arbuckle Ltd; 1978-80, Manufacturing Director, Rumcol Castings; 1980-85, Managing Director, Rumcol Castings. Present Position: Managing Director, J. Pringle & Sons Casting and General Engineering.
That's who I am.
Vic grimaces at his own reflection, as if to say: come off it, no identity crises, please. Somebody has to earn a living in this family.
He shrugs on his dressing-gown, which hangs from a hook on the bathroom door, switches off the light, and softly re-enters the dimly lit bedroom. Marjorie has, however, been woken by the sound of plumbing.
`Is that you?' she says drowsily; then, without waiting for an answer, `I'll be down in a minute.'
`Don't hurry,' says Vic. Don't bother would be more honest, for he prefers to have the kitchen to himself in the early morning, to prepare his own simple breakfast and enjoy the first cigarette of the day undisturbed. Marjorie, however, feels that she must put in an appearance downstairs, however token, before he leaves for work, and there is a sense in which Vic understands and approves of this gesture. His own mother was always first up in the mornings, to see husband and son off to work or college, and continued the habit almost till the day she died.
As Vic descends the stairs, a high-pitched electronic squeal rises from below. The pressure of his foot on a wired pad under the stair-carpet has triggered the burglar alarm, which Raymond, amazingly, must have remembered to set after coming in at God knows what hour last night. Vic goes to the console beside the front door and punches in the numerical code that disarms the apparatus. He has i f fteen seconds to do this, before the squeal turns into a screech and the alarm bell on the outside wall starts yammering. All the houses in the neighbourhood have these alarms, and Vic admits that they are necess sary, with burglaries increasing in frequency and boldness all the time, but the system they inherited from the previous owners of the house, with its magnetic contacts, infra-red scanners, pressure pads and panic buttons, is in his opinion overelaborate. It takes about five minutes to set it up before you retire to bed, and if you come back downstairs for something you have to cancel it and start all over again. The sufferings of the rich, Raymond sneered when Vic was complaining of this one day - Raymond, who despises his parents' affluence while continuing to enjoy its comforts and conveniences, such as rent-free centrally heated accommodation, constant hot water, free laundry service, use of mother's car, use of TV, video recorder, stereo system, et cetera et cetera. Vic feels his blood pressure rising at the thought of his eldest son, who dropped out of university four months ago and has not been usefully occupied since, now swaddled in a duvet upstairs, naked except for a single gold earring, sleeping off last night's booze. Vic shakes his head irritably to rid his mind of the image.
- Idioma English
- 288 páginas
- Formato Soft cover
- ISBN 978-0099554189