There’s a lot of different ways to adjust to university life. Many choose to drown any feelings of homesickness in alcohol, and in their defence, everything does seem rosy after a bottle or two of rosé. Others get aggressively attached to their university work, thinking so much about their GV101 problem set that they don’t have time to think how much they miss their mum. At LSE there is, of course, the fresher that chooses to replace his family with the warm embrace of corporate finance networking event. This list isn’t for those freshers. This list is to assist the fresher of a literary persuasion to ingratiate themselves into LSE life.
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis is the archetypal campus novel published in 1954 by Victor Gollancz. The anonymous red brick institution of postwar Britain that plays setting to the book is not dissimilar to the LSE of that time, as recorded in the pages of The Beaver’s earliest editions following its founding in 1949.
Whilst we, as the devoted social scientists of the LSE, can hardly devote our lives to the pursuit of shallow pleasure and counterculture as the writers of the Beat Generation did. We can, however, studiously work our way through On The Road by Jack Kerouac and take some notes from the life lived in such hedonism that even normal paragraph structure is too much of a strain. If there is any time to embrace that pure self indulgence in our academic lives then surely freshers week is that time.
The LSE has a fairly remarkable set of alumni but a very slim set that produced any fiction in their lifetime. Thankfully one of the most notable, given his status as a founder of the school and creator of The Beaver newspaper, has a work that is incredibly helpful for ingratiating oneself into LSE culture. That person is George Bernard Shaw and that play is Pygmalion, the story of a working class girl who is taught to be a lady by an upper class gent. This tale neatly sums up my, and many others, experience of coming to the LSE with a broad regional accent and finding ourselves going home at the end of Michaelmas term to the loud and outspoken criticism of home friends that accuse us of having ‘gone posh’.
Once you finish these three books then you should probably, yknow, log into Moodle and read your actual course reading list…