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The British Museum Is Falling Down

The British Museum Is Falling Down (1965) is a comic novel by David Lodge about a 25 year-old poverty-stricken student of English literature who, rather than working on his thesis[?] (entitled "The Structure of Long Sentences in Three Modern English Novels") in the reading room of the British Museum, is time and again distracted from his work and who gets into all kinds of trouble instead.

Set in Swinging London[?], The British Museum Is Falling Down describes one day in the life of Adam Appleby, who lives in constant fear that his wife might be pregnant again: As Catholics, they are denied any form of contraception and have to play "Vatican Roulette" instead.

In the course of only one busy day several chances to make some money present themselves to Adam. For example, he is offered the opportunity to edit a deceased scholar's unpublished manuscripts. However, when he eventually has a look at them he feels uncomfortable realizing that the man was an anti-Semite and that his writings are worthless drivel. Also, at the house in Bayswater[?] where he is supposed to get the papers, Adam has to cope with an assortment of weird characters ranging from butchers[?] to a young virgin intent on seducing him.

Lodge's novel makes use of pastiche, incorporating various passages where both the motifs and the style of writing used by renowned authors are imitated. For instance, there is the Kafkaesque scene where Adam has to renew his reading room ticket. On the other hand, the final pages of the novel, reminiscent of Mrs Dalloway and other stream of consciousness novels, are arguably made up of one of the longest sentences ever written in the English language. When the novel first came out quite a number of reviewers and critics, unable to get the joke and the literary allusions, actually found fault with Lodge for his apparent inhomogeneous writing.



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