Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review of the Day: Deaf Sentence

David Lodge’s fourteenth novel, Deaf Sentence, takes up similar themes from his earlier campus novels, this time from the perspective of retired professor of linguistics, Desmond Bates, who finds himself at loss now that his job has gone the way of his hearing. The story is told through Desmond’s journal, which he has taken up as a way to sort through his conflicting feelings about his deafness and his retirement.

The academic rivalry, potential for mischief with graduate students, strained marital relations, musings on religion or its alternatives, and bookish references are all there, although mellowed some with Desmond’s years. The kinky – maybe crazy – come-ons of an American Phd. candidate are more panic-inducing than titillating for Desmond. He is filled with “late-flowering lust” for his wife, although sometimes incapable of following through. Caring for his 89-year-old father leads to general deliberations on aging and mortality. And through it all, Desmond fumbles and fiddles with his hearing aids, mis-understands conversations, and ponders the science and art of deafness, all to great comic effect.

After starting off as hearing-impaired slapstick, Deaf Sentence ends on a more somber, contemplative note. But throughout, the book is an enjoyable ramble with one of Britain’s great novelists.

(If you would like your review of this or any other David Lodge book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)


  1. This looks like a book I would like, the title is particularly eye-catching.

  2. Sounds really interesting bi have studied sign language and did my law honours thesis on the medical ethics of implanting young children with the cochlear implant so this seems like a fun book on a topic I find interesting

  3. This does sound like a good one. I need to try Lodge's work.

  4. BookQuoter -- The title does catch your eye. And Lodge has a lot of fun with puns and word jokes that play on the deaf theme.

    Becky -- What an interesting background! Lodge himself is hard of hearing, so he wrote about what he understands and was able to make it funny. I don't know if he would have been so successful with the topic otherwise.

    Bermuda -- Lodge is a recent favorite of mine, but one I've taken up enthusiastically. I am working my way through all of his books.

  5. Agreed throughout. I think of this as one of Lodge's weakest books, but still very good.

    Definitely read his "The Art of Fiction," a collection of essays about aspects of the novel. It has influenced my reading more than any other book.

  6. Michael -- I am putting Art of Fiction on my wish list for Christmas right now. Hubby always likes very specific ideas from me and also gravitates to non-fiction when buying books, even for me. Perfect!

  7. This looks quite interesting. I am going to see if my public library has it.


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