Do­ing it by the book

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Cover Story -

There are sev­eral note­wor­thy un­der­grad­u­ates in lit­er­a­ture. Do any of th­ese sound fa­mil­iar?

Mike En­gelby

Se­bas­tian Faulks’s epony­mous work­ing­class prodigy suf­fers parental be­reave­ment and is bul­lied at board­ing school. But we re­ally start to lose sym­pa­thy with him when we learn of his das­tardly ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties while read­ing English at an “an­cient univer­sity”.

Se­bas­tian Flyte

Waugh’s in­do­lent up­per-crust un­der­grad in Brideshead Re­vis­ited shows aca­demic prom­ise but is so weighed down with fam­ily bag­gage he prefers a drink and a cud­dle with his teddy bear Aloy­sius in­stead.

Adam Ap­pleby

David Lodge’s pover­tys­tricken English stu­dent in The Bri­tish Mu­seum Is Fall­ing Down is sup­posed to be work­ing hard on his the­sis about “long sen­tences”. But, in a mod­ern res­o­nance, he is too dis­tracted by try­ing to make money.

Char­lotte Sim­mons

Tom Wolfe’s hero­ine in I Am Char­lotte Sim­mons leaves her small-town begin­nings for fic­tional Amer­i­can Dupont Univer­sity be­liev­ing she will find a vi­brant and in­spir­ing in­tel­lec­tual world. In­stead, she finds that the stu­dents are all ma­jor­ing in al­co­hol, sex and so­cial sta­tus.

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