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Thinks Paperback – 2 May 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (2 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014100021X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141000213
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Lodge is the author of ten bestselling novels and a novella. He also wrote two highly successful TV adaptations: his own novel NICE WORK and Dickens' MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT. He taught for many years at the University of Birmingham, where he is now Honorary Prof. of English. Though a south Londoner by upbringing, he continues to live in Birmingham.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
One, two, three, testing, testing ... recorder working OK . . . Olympus Pearlcorder, bought it at Heathrow in the dutyfree on my way to . . . where? Can't remember, doesn't matter . . . The object of the exercise being to record as accurately as possible the thoughts that are passing through my head at this moment in time, which is, let's see ... 10.13 a.m. on Sunday the 23rd of Febru - San Diego! I bought it on my way to that conference in . . . Isabel Hotchkiss. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Mar. 2001
Format: Hardcover
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 By S. B. Kelly VINE VOICE on 10 May 2001
Format: Hardcover
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 By bibliophile on 19 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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By Prof TBun on 7 Jun. 2015
Format: Audio CD
Be very suspicious of the positive reviews, as this novel is far below par for David Lodge, and could hardly be more disappointing.

The novel consists of boring reminiscences of sexual encounters, bromidic lust, and ham atheistic propaganda. Lodge has done some research into the philosophy of conciousness, but fails to understand the nature of the scientific process. He also fails to understand the nature of religion, and presenting science and religion as opposites is an intellectual fallacy. Lodge's understanding of artificial intellegence was way behind the times when he wrote this novel, but was at least correctly optimistic about the creation of machine consciousness. To computer scientists machine consciousness has obviously been only a matter of time, ever since the creation of the silicon chip. Lodge makes various contemporary cultural references which are now very dated, mostly about New Labour and the adult soap opera, "This Life". There are not interesting anyway, so nothing is lost.

The lack of drama, isn't helped by unsympathetic characters. Why should we care about the selfish adulterer or the rich American widow? All the characters just seem to be drifting, with nothing of importance to do.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wembley on 26 Jun. 2001
Format: Hardcover
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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By JJ Merelo on 3 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
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. However, this is exactly what this book is not. Attracted by the last book I read by him, Small World: An Academic Romance, with which this novel shares milieu, an imaginary university, I trudged through the first 100 pages or so finally dropping it.
Essentially, the topic of the book is academic romance, but here the narration follows two first-persons, one of them in rather boring stream-of-consciousness style, and a third person to narrate the encounters between them, rather long dialogues centered on consciousness, the mind an cognitive science studies, which might be amusing for a while, but eventually they are neither educative nor really fun.
Eventually, a review says more about the expectations of the reader than about the book itself. This book is probably OK if it's your first David Lodge, or if you're really into the English academic life. But Small World is far funnier by a stretch, so it would by my first choice for the author.
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