I just finished reading Malcolm Bradbury’s Eating People Is Wrong, a satiric treatment of academic liberalism set on a provincial Brit campus in the 50’s.

Because it is that kind of book, EPIW is compared inevitably to Kinsley Amis’ Lucky Jim.  And because of their similarities, I found myself doing more or less the same thing as I read along.  In the end, although I believe Amis was a superior writer in terms of use of language, I think I preferred Bradbury’s take.  Despite all the glowing reviews I had heard in the past, I found Lucky Jim to be rayther, well, dull when I finally came to read it a few months back.  Mom reports that when it first came out, what propelled its popularity was its shock value.  Given the times in which we live, what caused people to gasp fifty odd years ago simply invokes a shrug and a yawn now (at least from me). On the other hand, Bradbury’s theme of the bewilderment of fuzzy-headed professors and students in the face of Reality is much more enduring.

All of this put me in mind of the question of what an academic satire would or should look like these days.  Of course I’ve read Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons, but frankly, I think it wasn’t one of his best novels, the sledgehammer being employed too often in the place of the scalpel.   Also, its main focus was on the students, not so much the professors.  On the other hand, Modern Academia is such a parody of itself that I’m not sure whether an author could come up with anything to top it.