AMIS, Kingsley (1922-1995). Lucky Jim. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1953.
8o. Original green cloth, gilt-lettered on spine (spine lightly sunned, a little bumped); printed dust jacket (spine panel repaired, few closed tears). Provenance: Philip Larkin (1922-1985), British poet (presentation inscription; few pencilled marginalia; newspaper clippings laid-in).
FIRST EDITION. THE DEDICATION COPY OF AMIS'S FIRST NOVEL. INSCRIBED BY AMIS TO PHILIP LARKIN on the front free endpaper: "Philip Larkin from Kingsley Amis With affection, esteem, amusement... the lot... January 1954." Larkin has made a few annotations in the margins; the one on p.172, "PL?," suggests that Larkin wondered if a description of the character Atkinson was based on himself.
One of the seminal post-war British novels, Lucky Jim is Amis's satire of academia. It is therefore fitting that Amis should dedicate the novel to his Oxford classmate and lifelong friend, for, as Larkin's biographer notes, at university they were "united in their contempt for the snobbish, public-school elements of Oxford Life" (Andrew Motion, Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life, London, 1993, p.54). Amis drew a great deal of material for Lucky Jim from his observations on visits to Larkin's Senior Common Room at Leicester: "I looked around a couple of times and said to myself: 'Christ; somebody ought to do something with this.' Not that it was awful--well, only a bit, it was strange and sort of developed, a whole mode of existence no one had got on to, like the SS in 1940, say. I [decided I] would do something with it." Larkin contributed many anecdotes and jokes to the novel, as well as editorial advice on Amis's drafts. Larkin later commented on the novel: "I do think that it is miraculously and intensely funny, with a kind of spontaneity that doesn't tire the reader at all. Apart from being funny, I think it is somewhat oversimple" (ibid, p.238).