Changing Places

Changing Places


David Lodge was born in London in 1935 and took his BA and MA degree at University College, London in 1955 and 1959. He holds a doctorate from the University of Birmingham, where he taught in the English Department from 1960 until 1987, when he retired to become a full - time writer. He retains the title of Honorary Professor of Modern English Literature at Birmingham and continues to live in that city. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

His novels include The Picturegoers (1960), Ginger, You’re Barmy (1962); The British Museum is Falling Down (1965);Out of the Shelter (1970); Changing Places (1975), for which he was awarded both the Hawthornden Prize and the Yorkshire Post Fiction Prize; How Far Can You Go?, which was Whitbread Book of the Year in 1980; Small World, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1984; Nice Work, which won the 1988 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award and was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Paradise News (1991) and Therapy (1995).
   David Lodge has written several books on literary criticism, such as Language of Fiction (1966), The Novelist at the Crossroads (1971), and The Modes of Modern Writing (1977). He has also edited Modern Criticism and Theory (1988). Many of his works have been published by Penguin, such as Write On (1986), a collection of occasional essays and The Art of Fiction (1992), a selection of articles originally published in the Independent on Sunday. He also produced several serials for BBC and the stage play "The Writing Game" which was adapted for Channel 4 in 1995.


Philip Swallow:
The professor of English Literature at the University of Rummidge in England is forty years old, unconfident, eager to please and mistrusting everything. Although he’s very intelligent, Swallow is scarcely known because he’s lacking of will and ambition. He is in love with literature in all its diverse forms.
When he spent his honeymoon with Hilary Broom - a British student - at Euphoric State, everyone of them was happy and content. But now Philip is in his midlife crisis, father of three children and not very happy with his marriage. He hopes, that the Euphoria - visit will bring some change into his life.

Morris J. Zapp:
... Is also professor of English Literature, but he teaches at the University of Euphoria in the US. In his forty years lifetime he has become quite famous, won many prices and published five books. Zapp analyses everything and tries to explain it in statistics.
The professor is married to Dèsirèe who he has twins with. The Zapp’s marriage is about breaking up, because Morris had an affair with one of his students. After an ultimatum by his wife he’s going to Europe to avoid a divorce.


The story takes place mainly around the campuses of Euphoric State at the US and Rummidge in England. These two towns are exactly each other’s opposite: Euphoria is one of Americas’ major Universities with a beautiful landscape around and nice weather all the time, paying high wages to the professors. On the other side of the Atlantic is Rummidge in the British midlands: you hardly ever are able to see the sun because of fog and rain - the University is not very popular and has no good reputation.
Between these two Universities exists a partnership, which is shown by an annual exchange program between them. Naturally the exchangers from Rummidge are more likely going to the US voluntarily because of the higher wages their and being more popular than at their home - campus.


On January 1stof the year 1969 this exchange program begins with the flight of Philip Swallow and Morris Zapp, "meeting" over the polar ice in their Boeing 707s.
This is the time of the Vietnam War and free love. The effects of these situations first show at Euphoric State with student - riots, which swap over to Rummidge after a few weeks.


The story begins with the two people on their flight to their working place for the next term. Philip Swallow, who is unaccustomed to air travel, meets Charles Boon - one of his former students, who failed at Rummidge University - who is going back to Euphoric State, where he’s studying now and has his own radio show. Swallow expects the time at Euphoria to become nice, because he has already had good times twenty years ago, when he married Hilary Broom there.
Morris doesn’t enjoy the flight, although long - distance air travel is familiar to him within the USA but it’s the first flight for him out of the North American landmass. After a while he realizes, that he is on a plane full of pregnant women, going to England for abortion because the laws are less stricter there. Morris talks to one of them called Mary Makepeace who turns out to be a schoolgirl on a highly catholic school. After all the father of the child seems to be a priest...
When Philip arrives at Euphoria, he rents a flat, which - he gets to know later - was built in a slide area, that means on loose ground. He first meets Mrs. Zapp, a rather choleric woman, at a party of the campus. Afterwards he is involved into sex - and druggames and starts an affair with Melanie, who lives in the apartment underneath his own with two friends. Hilary Swallow and Morris Zapp get to know this by an anonymous letter and Mr. Zapp immediately sends Dèsirèe out to clear the situation; Melanie turns out to be Zapp’s child from 1stmarriage.
Within that time Morris Zapp also has settled in and has met Mary Makepeace again, after she had lost her job and was stolen her money. The girl had decided against the abortion and to get the child in England. Morris tries to help her, but Dr. O’Shea - the owner of the house, the professor is living in - doesn’t want to, because he’s strictly catholic and knows Mary’s story. So Zapp asks Hilary Swallow to give her a home, who soon accepts this, because she feels alone and has just heard of her husband’s affair.
At this time the student - riots at Euphoria get at their highest point, one of the students dies after a fight with the police and Swallow even has to spend a night in jail.
After his house in the slide area is destroyed because of heavy rainfalls, Melanie sets off with Charles Boon and Philip is invited by Dèsirèe to live at the Zapp’s home. While they start an affair and Swallow doesn’t know if to fly home or not the riots at Rummidge escalate, too.
One Night, when Philip is guest at the Charles Boon Show, his wife calls and threatens him to start an affair if he’d hang up. "Actually", Philip returns, "I’m already having one." The night before Morris Zapp had tried to go to bed with Hilary, but she had refused.
Many things have changed at Rummidge University, since Morris Zapp came there: the whole campus has moved into a newer building because of the formula one ring, that is going to be built. Zapp is now quite popular at Rummidge after the student sit - ins and works in the office of Gordon Masters, the former headmaster, who had to retire after the riots. Morris accepts the job of mediator between Administration and students; he’s the unofficial head of the University. After Hilary has heard of her husband’s second affair, she decides to sleep with Morris. A few days later the two wives call each other on the phone and agree on a meeting in New York to clear the situation.
When the two couples meet there, every possible formation of their relationships for the future is discussed - from divorcing and remarrying onto a group marriage; everything is mentioned. The novel has an open ending; it cuts off right in the conversation.


David Lodge parted the book into six chapters: In the first - called "Flying" - the author introduces the two main characters and describes their ways to the exchange program. As the name insists, this chapter takes place in the two Boeing 707s.
The second chapter - called "Settling" - consists of how Swallow and Zapp cope with their new situation in England or the US. These two chapters are written in normal story - type in past time, but at the 3rdchapter - "Corresponding" - the style changes into letter writing. In this part of the book the reader is able to read the letters between the Zapps and the Swallows. I found this part quite funny to read, because the reader has to imagine the things happening in Euphoria and Rummidge himself and explores step by step the situation and the involved people’s emotions.
"Reading" - the 4thchapter, also has quite an interesting style and is an increase to the chapter before: it consists of local newspaper articles read by the two professors.
The next interesting change of style is done in chapter 6 ("Ending"): it’s written like a script with attachments how to film the scenes.


In my opinion David Lodge criticises both the American and the British school system and the mentality of the two nationalities: whereas Zapp and Swallow are quite at the same level of intelligence, Zapp has more success in America (also shown by the example of Charles Boon) than his British counterpart. This fact is proved, when Philip Swallow - who seemed to be second rate at Rummidge and didn’t even have a particular area of study - also gets popular and successful at Euphoria. On the other side of the Atlantic Morris Zapp brings a lot of new things to Rummidge: he behaves quite controversial to his prude British colleagues, organizes sit - ins and starts a new style of teaching. After these changes Rummidge becomes more like Euphoria, more liberal and energetic.

On the other hand events happening in the story show, that in the US somebody is more likely to be injured or even killed (a student dies at the riots), than in England, where the riots were rather peaceful.

In his novel Lodge also deals with the problems of marriage and love. He writes much about sex and its consequences (for example the plane to England full of pregnant women going to get an abortion).
The author describes the characters with all their failures and problems, which makes someone feel familiar to them.
I found it quite funny, how the two counterparts Zapp and Swallow - different but very similar - get involved into the whole dilemma on both sides of the Atlantic and eventually even change their whole life - including their wives - with each other.

Although Mary Makepeace and Charles Boon play a relatively small part in the novel, they are always in the reader’s mind. Who could forget a Catholic schoolgirl who got pregnant by a priest and then decided to go to Europe to get an abortion? In addition, she lives in Philip's house with Zapp and Hillary. And then you have Boon, his failure in England and then his success in America as a radio show host says a lot about Lodge's feelings about American and English cultures.

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