Wednesday, February 09, 2005

David Lodge's Changing Places: Humiliation and Handout #2

After Kate's handout #1 occupied us, we all played the game of "Humiliation." Dianna Stair and Amy Childress led the game with these directions. Those who have read Lodge's novel will recall that players lose or win by being very truthful and humiliating themselves. Each group member names a literary classic which he has not read but assumes the others have read, and scores a point for every person in the group who HAS read it. In the book, an English professor insists he has never read Hamlet. In my group, the big winner was Amah, who grew up in Haiti, and confessed to never reading the Dick and Jane books. That certainly put him over the top.

Following what Lodge likens to "intellectual strip poker," we wound down with discussion of these, my questions (page citations from the Penguin paperback, ISBN 0-14-017098-7):

1 Think further about the character of Morris Zapp. Even though he was reluctant to go to the less prestigious Rummidge (see page 39), he found that it appealed to him, perhaps even in the long term. On page 234, he thinks about this while taking a bath. Comment on his reasoning.

2 Comment upon Morris Zapp’s leadership traits and his particular position in the Rummidge English department (see pages 213f).

3 Comment upon Morris Zapp’s ambition, and see particularly pages 43-44.

4 Why did Morris Zapp believe that “the root of all critical error was a naïve confusion of literature with life” (pages 47f)? What do you think about this view?

5 Characterize the Vice Chancellor, Stewart Stroud (page 220).

6 Why does Philip Swallow say that the important things are private (page 249)?

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