Novels about academic life

Academics and their culture(s) and rituals

So, how they keep score – books, journal articles in peer-reviewed journals, keynote speeches etc.  Yes, “the game’s the game,” but w hat is IN the game/what are the rules, that shifts…

NB, all these are by white men. And, more seriously, about the academic world that existed in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s gotten a bit more precarious since then…
Other suggestions welcome!! (See bottom)

David Lodge
Nice Work
Changing Places
Small World

Frank Moorhouse

Kingsley Amis
Lucky Jim

CP Snow
The Affair

Michael Frayn
The Tin Men (More about a research institution, but still great)

Robert Parker
The Godwulf Manuscript

Gilbert Adair
The Death of the Author (stuff on deconstruction etc. See also The Key to the Tower)

See also wikipedia on “The Campus Novel

To read

AS Byatt

Wallace Stenger
Crossing to Safety

Vladimir Nabokov

James Robertson
The Professor of Truth (recommended to me – I haven’t read it)

4 thoughts on “Novels about academic life

Add yours

  1. Most of the academic novels I have read are satires, parodies of dysfunctional places with marginally functional professors. I have just written a novel about a world-class professor at a first-class technical university run by smart, competent people, where things can still go badly wrong. It’s entitled “One Man’s Purpose” and will come out from Friesen Press in the Fall of 2015. In the meantime, I invite you to visit (and contribute to) my blog on “Education as Conversation” at

  2. I’ve never read it, but Jane Smiley’s sprawling campus novel Moo is supposedly good. I also second the previous commentator in recommending Stoner by John Williams. It is so beautiful. Truly an American and academic classic.

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