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Thinks... [Kindle Edition]

David Lodge
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

In Thinks..., David Lodge writes another witty satire on the vagaries and triumphs of contemporary British academic life and achieves a fine balance between multiple points of narrative interest. He gains much momentum from psychologically nuanced romantic intrigue, and also manages to offer intelligent speculation on the state of play in the scientific and philosophical investigations into the nature and workings of human consciousness, without preaching or becoming ponderous.

Thinks... recounts the experiences of Helen Reed, distinguished novelist, who accepts a creative writing teaching gig at the fictional University of Gloucester after the sudden death of her husband. Here she meets Ralph Messenger, scholar, spin doctor, philanderer and head of the illustrious Colt Belling Centre for Cognitive Science. Scientist and novelist spar:

She asks them what they were working on. Jim says robotics, Carl says affective modelling. Kenji says something indistinct that Ralph repeats for her benefit--genetic algorithms. "I can guess what robotics is," says Helen, "but what on earth are the others?"
Carl explains that affective modelling is computer simulation of the way emotions affect human behaviour.
"Like grief?" Helen says, glancing at Ralph.
"Exactly so," he says. "Though Carl is actually working on a program for mother-love."
"I'd like to see it," says Helen.
"I am not able to give a demonstration, I'm afraid," says Carl. "I am rewriting the program."
The form of the novel carefully mirrors its intellectual concerns. We are given Ralph's attempts to tape-record his random thoughts; Helen's more introspective diary and the often hilarious writing assignments of Helen's motley crew of students, who attempt literary solutions to the problems Ralph poses Helen. Written with enviable deftness, Thinks... manages to be generous to its characters and serious about the intellectual and ethical questions it poses for itself without losing satiric bite. --Neville Hoad

Product Description

Ralph Messenger is a man who knows what he wants and generally gets it. Approaching his fiftieth birthday, he has good reason to feel pleased with himself. As Director of the prestigious Holt Belling Centre for Cognitive Science at the University of Gloucester he is much in demand as a pundit on developments in artificial intelligence and the study of human consciousness - 'the last frontier of scientific enquiry'. He enjoys an affluent life style subsidised by the wealth of his American wife, Carrie. Known to colleagues on the conference circuit as a womaniser and to Private Eye as a 'Media Dong', he has reached a tacit understanding with Carrie to refrain from philandering in his own back yard.This resolution is already weakening when he meets and is attracted to Helen Reed, a distinguished novelist still grieving for the sudden death of her husband more than a year ago, who has rented out her London house and taken up a post as writer-in residence at Gloucester University, partly to try and get over her bereavement.Fascinated and challenged by a personality and a world-view radically at odds with her own, Helen is aroused by Ralph's bold advances, but resists on moral principle. The stand-off between them is shattered by a series of events and discoveries that dramatically confirm the truth of Ralph's dictum, 'We can never know for certain what another person is thinking.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 544 KB
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0142000868
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; 1st edition (31 Mar 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #179,038 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

David Lodge's novels include Deaf Sentence, Changing Places, Small World, Nice Work, Therapy, Thinks... and Author, Author. He has also written stage plays and screenplays, and several books of literary criticism, including The Art of Fiction, Consciousness and the Novel and, most recently, The Year of Henry James. Formerly Professor of English at Birmingham University, David now writes full-time. He continues to live in Birmingham.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dazzling feast from David Lodge 6 Mar 2001
By A Customer
One of David Lodge's recurring themes is the tension between two different worlds. In "Nice Work", the sparks flew between an industrialist and the modernist English literature lecturer Robyn Penrose (who, promoted to Professor, makes a cameo appearance in "Thinks" - brief reappearance of characters from previous novels being another Lodge trademark).
In "Thinks", Ralph Messenger, a cognitive scientist at a modern but already decaying university, spars with Helen Reed, an attractive widow and English novelist whose books, written in the third person and past tense, are "so old-fashioned in form as to be almost experimental". Debate is joined as to the meaning of consciousness, with Helen doubting Ralph's beliefs that it can be reduced to a series of impulses in the brain. The intellectual sparring develops into a deeper relationship, as Helen is confronted with a revelation about her past life which leaves the reader stunned in sympathy.
Lodge himself reserves the third person past tense stuff to the last chapter. Earlier, he dazzles us with his vast array of styles, ranging from stream of consciousness (self-deprecatingly referred to at one point as an outdated literary form), diary, present tense narrative, e-mail exchange and a series of hilarious parodies of other novelists' styles as Helen's students are deployed by her to prove to Messenger that consciousness has an essential human element (I particularly enjoyed the Irvine Welsh parody). There are other classic Lodgeisms along the way: no other writer has his gift for observational humour.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An elaborate joke? 10 May 2001
Lodge's new novel is a romping good read but it's also deeply unoriginal: everything you expect to happen does happen so that a grieving woman finds out that her dead husband wasn't such a saint after all and so is able to move on (Yawn); while when the police arrive looking for a member of department who's been downloading child porn from the Net the culprit is exactly who you think it is. I found myself wondering if Lodge is attempting a literary joke, setting himself the task of writing the archetypal academic-adultery novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lodge at his best 10 May 2012
A wonderfully innovative narrative and so very glad to see Professor Lodge back on the university campus - the place he really knows best (I'd leave Hawaii well alone !!). Love the monologues and the stream of conscious motif. The character of Ralph Messenger is alos a triumph: a self indulgent, philandering academic trapped in his own narrow confines - sound familiar?

This is Lodge at his very best: waspish and ironic. Up there with 'Nice Work' 'Therapy' and 'Deaf Sentence.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD READ 19 Feb 2010
I have to say that I was glad that I did not read all the reviews for David Lodge's novel Thinks, as I do not think that I would have bothered to read it, as it would appear to be predictable, and not a very good campus novel. I enjoyed it, even if I did struggle to get my head round some of the cognitive science. Yes it did remind me a little of The History Man, but that's ok. I liked Ralph getting his comeuppance with his daliances towards the end of the book, but I believe novels are meant to be read to be enjoyed, and expand your imagination, and I certainly enjoyed this novel, and keeps David Lodge as one of my favourite authors, because he writes about aspects which seem to actual;ly occur, and you can identify with. A good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made me laugh out loud 13 July 2009
By Bluebell TOP 100 REVIEWER
I first read this book in 2001 and have just re-read it with much enjoyment. It made me laugh out-loud: partly because of the familiarity of the setting in a university, the story revolving around the lives of staff and students, with all the human foibles and rivalries being played out to humorous effect. David Lodge is very good at sending up academic jargon. He's always seems to be harder on his own sex in satirizing their vanities and weaknesses, especially, for women!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wastes his opportunity and your time 26 Jun 2001
By Wembley
Well, maybe this is a very subtle murder mystery after all. The clues are sprinkled throughout and red herrings provided, the crime is not committed until the final pages and the reader has to work out the culprit...
But I suspect not.
It's an appallingly wasted opportunity. The characters fail to come to life, but more seriously the ideas fail too. A tragedy; Lodge obviously put a lot of time in researching cognitive psychology but proves incapable of digesting any of the ideas involved.
You want cliches? You've got 'em. You want wall-to-wall Catholic adultery and guilt? Right there.
You want comedy fizzing with bright ideas and engaging characters, insight, passion? Try somewhere else.
But maybe it IS a murder mystery...
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David lodge has exceeded high expectations 6 Aug 2001
Opening the first page of the newest offering produced by an author whose work has become familiar and enjoyed for its wit and canny observation of the human experience is an event charged with both anticipation and the fear of disappointment. When judged against his other works, David Lodge has exceeded high expectations with this tale of tangled relationships and illicit love in the world of academia. His original approach adopts the traditional narrative and combines this with witty first person recollections of the two main characters. This book explores the familiar voice of consciousness as an ever present feature of our lives, the dilemas that face us and the etrenal problem of finding out what the other person is really thinking. Happily, 'Thinks' proved to be one of those books that completely absorb the reader so completely that they are swept along until they emerge all too quickly at the concluding page. This is another david Lodge volume to claim a place on the bookshelf - to be enjoyed again and again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read
No complaints about condition or service. All good.

An enjoyable a witty read - looking out for more by author.
Published 5 months ago by Susan Thacker
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked NICE WORK but I'm not very good at science
David Lodge's 'Nice Work' appeared on my university reading list and I devoured it, transposing my lecturers onto my reading and identifying with figures of the industrial world I... Read more
Published on 10 Sep 2011 by Ms Cherry A. Coombe
2.0 out of 5 stars Thinks - just not quite deeply enough
Once upon a time David Lodge wrote satirical novels about a fictitious University, involving a little bit of good healthy sexual innuendo and quite a lot of wit. Read more
Published on 23 Aug 2011 by Ms. Fiona Allen
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun take on the science of mind and brain
This novel is light and inconsequential but fun. I read it years ago, when it first appeared, and when I was in the community of researchers into the science of consciousness. Read more
Published on 6 April 2011 by Andrew Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars More entertainment from an excellent author
David Lodge is at his best when writing about what he knows and he knows campus life well. His protagonist, Ralph Messenger, is a cognitive scientist who is trying to record all... Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2010 by Moonlit
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
David Lodge is not the kind of writer you would call boring; "brisk", and "funny" are probably two of the words that come off the top of your head. Read more
Published on 3 Dec 2010 by JJ Merelo
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining if not thought provoking
This book is an entertaining story, and it's as simple as that. The male hero reminds me distinctly of the real-life zoologist Dawkins, in his arrogant assuredness of the... Read more
Published on 11 Nov 2005 by Oliver Lea
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear!
By far David Lodge's worst novel, I like to think of it is a blip. A tired and embarrassing rehash of the campus novel that he is so justly famous for, "Thinks" is ...well, awful. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2005 by "bigphilip"
5.0 out of 5 stars Clash of disciplines
A novel about cognitive science, and there are a lot of quite long conversations between the two principal characters about mind-body philosophy which, though central to the... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2005 by Ralph Blumenau
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait to read more from this author
An excellent read. David Lodge effortlessly interweaves a whole range of human emotions with scientific and academic discussion in a way that entertains and delights. Read more
Published on 5 Dec 2004 by Leojon
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