The Old Devils

The Old Devils Age has done everything except mellow the characters in Kingsley Amis s The Old Devils which turns its humane and ironic gaze on a group of Welsh married couples who have been spending their golden y

  • Title: The Old Devils
  • Author: Kingsley Amis
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 255
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Age has done everything except mellow the characters in Kingsley Amis s The Old Devils, which turns its humane and ironic gaze on a group of Welsh married couples who have been spending their golden years when all of a sudden the evening starts starting after breakfast nattering, complaining, reminiscing, and, above all, drinking This or less orderly social world iAge has done everything except mellow the characters in Kingsley Amis s The Old Devils, which turns its humane and ironic gaze on a group of Welsh married couples who have been spending their golden years when all of a sudden the evening starts starting after breakfast nattering, complaining, reminiscing, and, above all, drinking This or less orderly social world is thrown off kilter, however, when two old friends unexpectedly return from England Alun Weaver, now a celebrated man of Welsh letters, and his entrancing wife, Rhiannon Long dormant rivalries and romances are rudely awakened, as life at the Bible and Crown, the local pub, is changed irrevocably Considered by Martin Amis to be Kingsley Amis s greatest achievement a book that stands comparison with any English novel of the twentieth century The Old Devils confronts the attrition of ageing with rare candor, sympathy, and moral intelligence.

    One thought on “The Old Devils”

    1. This novel is a story of old friends, married couples in southwestern Wales, and how their lives change when Alun and Rhiannon Weaver return to the country after Alun's long career in London. Alun has for some time been an ambitious media personality whose career resulted in the "popularization" of Wales. He is vaguely blamed for the onslaught of developers and bad architecture in the country, though this seems to me baseless. He's also known for championing the Welsh poet, Brydan, whom I suspec [...]

    2. Does anyone really want to read a book about a lot of boring old farts getting drunk and shagging each others' wives? No wonder people were saying the British novel was dead at the time when this won the Booker prize.

    3. Il tasso di alcool, pioggia, gallesità, cazzeggio maschile, solitudine coniugale di questo romanzo è almeno sei volte superiore ai limiti di legge consentiti. Per giunta parla di settantenni, categoria poco glamour e scarsamente frequentata dalle belle lettere inglesi dall'epoca di Re Lear, credo. Eppure questo gruppo di acciaccatissimi 'mbriaconi litiga, ama, odia, ricorda con rabbia e struggimento come non riuscirebbe a fare nemmeno un trentenne (taceremo per carità di patria degli apatici [...]

    4. This is such a wasted opportunity. Amis showed in 'Ending Up' how capable he was of writing dark humour into the vagaries of old age, making that alleged time of non-existence interesting and compulsive reading perhaps twelve years later, when 'The Old Devils' saw the light of day, he was sufficiently aged himself to be consumed by his lifetime of excesses. Certainly 'The Old Devils' lacks polish and precision. What it does confirm is that (shock, horror) older people still have sex, can be unfa [...]

    5. Readers of John Updike's Couples will find the setup of this novel glancingly familiar: the circle of ingrown, septic-turning friendships among well-off married couples in a small town by the sea, the arrival of the 'new couple' that puts the cat among the pigeons. But where Updike's novel (much the superior of the two) is all about sex and love, Amis's themes are booze and adultery. His couples, unlike Updike's, are all well on the wrong side of middle age; his setting, unlike Updike's pictures [...]

    6. Ouvira dizer que este romance apresentava um olhar satírico e imensamente cómico sobre o envelhecimento, ao qual não faltava sentimentalismo e beleza. Não encontrei nada do género. As piadas eram ora demasiado insulares, ora repetidas e prolongadas até à exaustão. E andavam à volta de essencialmente o mesmo: as particularidades do País de Gales; as pessoas não crescem ou mudam por aí além; a velhice não traz sabedoria; as pessoas de idade continuam a ter relações sexuais e a come [...]

    7. This is the most boring Booker I've read so far. It may, in fact, be one of the most boring books I've ever read. I can't even bother to put it on my list of most hated because at least with, say, Atonement, McEwan had the decency to write a thoroughly despicable, self-absorbed horrorshow of a human being to act as narrator for that otherwise dull book. Amis didn't even give us that. I couldn't even get too upset with him for writing two-dimensional female characters because his male characters [...]

    8. A thoroughly enjoyable romance in the Shakespearean sense of the word. Lots of proto-Martin humour (though if Amis fils 'goes to 11' in terms of hyperbole as the trope of choice, his père dials it all in at just over a 3, irony and understatement being more his thing than "monkeying about with the reader" [<--as quoted in son Martin's latest book The Rub Of Time]Lots of talk about the Welsh, and lots of talk about (and actual) boozing: every single chapter seems to have a drink in it, as the [...]

    9. I tend to be sympathetic to characters who are aging, fat, and unlovely, since I'm sure this is my destiny as well, but this bunch is so tedious that I couldn't muster any interest. I kept waiting for the humor to begin, but it never did. They're all just moldering away in Wales, pickling their livers and feeling sorry for themselves. I feel like David Lodge has written these characters, and written them far better. I'm astounded this won the Booker.

    10. What’s not to enjoy in a book that contains the sentence ‘She was said to have been found once telling the man who was laying the carpets about eohippus’ (referring to an unstoppably talkative character)? If that doesn’t make you smile, don’t bother with this book. If it does, find a copy and enjoy.Kingsley Amis’ writing (at this, later, stage) combined humour and an acute sensibility to the joys and disappointments of life. He is unequalled in his ability to deliniate bores (the uns [...]

    11. I met a lady recently who told me her intention to read every Booker Prize winner. My response was that it’s an admirable ambition, but I’m not sure they’re actually of a uniformly standard. At that point I hadn’t read this book, by a writer I generally like, but if I had then I could have used it as an example. “So-so” is the description I’d go for.‘The Old Devils’ follows some Welsh couples of a certain age as they drink, copulate and ruminate on the nature of being Welsh. Th [...]

    12. Having never read Kingsley or Martin Amis, I had been curious. Late last year PB mentioned that she had read a Kingsley, and so when I saw the mint condition hardback of The Old Devils at the Brattle, and noticed it had been a Booker Prize winner in 1986, I did not resist.Kingsley is a fine and fluid writer. The book is almost entirely made up of dialogue, clever and complicated dialogue. The story takes place in Wales, is a commentary on the landscape of Wales, how the Welsh view themselves, vi [...]

    13. I've been on an Amis kick lately but this probably broke me of the habit. Not because it's not good—it's very good. It is written with the same style and excellence which everything that I've read by Amis at this point has been, and the subject matter—which is simply put, the social, romantic, and national friction caused by the return of an aging 2nd rate intellectual to his hometown in rural Wales—is admirable in putting a serious focus on a period of life which receives short shrift in [...]

    14. I looked up the symptoms of cirrhosis and discovered that they can include fatigue, loss of appetite, and nausea. By the time I was done this novel, I was pretty sure that I had somehow acquired cirrhosis from it. It is not a likable book, mainly because there are so few characters to like in it, supposing you can manage to distinguish one from the other by the time you get through it. Is Peter the enormously fat one? Which one is Garth and why do I care? Does Malcolm have any real talent or is [...]

    15. Kingsley Amis was rather an old devil himself when he wrote this novel, and every bitter, precise word shows how accustomed he'd already become to the aches and indignities of senescence:Standing quite motionless he gazed before him with a faraway look that a passer-by, especially a Welsh passer-by, might have taken for one of moral if not spiritual insight, such that he might instantly renounce whatever course of action he had laid down for himself. After a moment, something like a harsh bark b [...]

    16. The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis was first published in 1986 and it won the Booker Prize that year. Alun and Rhiannon Weaver are returning to Wales from London; Alun is an ageing minor TV presenter who has become famous for presenting programmmes about Wales on TV, especially about the famous Welsh poet Brydan (think Dylan Thomas). Alun also likes sex and drinking, well, all the characters in the book like drinking, in fact that's what they spend most of their time doing. Alun & Rhiannon are [...]

    17. I often struggle to catch the humor of written satire. I seem to need the tone of voice to clue me in that what is coming is intended humorously. That was true with this book. I think I would have caught far more of the humor had I seen it performed as a play which it could easily be adapted to. We spend this novel in the company of several Welsh couples who have been socially linked for decades. Their predictable retirement routine is shaken up when a couple from their past moves back to the ar [...]

    18. One of the greatest novels I've ever read. Hilarious, honest, joyous, so truthful about humanity, both the best and the worst of us, and so very sad at times. I found myself laughing at the beginning of certain paragraphs, or even just sentences, and then crying by the end of them. I've read pretty much everything by Kingsley Amis before, fiction and non-fiction, but upon reading "The Old Devils" for a second time, I was just astounded at how utterly brilliant it is. I couldn't sleep all night a [...]

    19. This book is about as sour as they come, but likable despite itself. The humor obviously helps; Kingsley Amis's wit is exceedingly sharp and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. He spares none of his characters, the least of which a cad of a hack writer named Alun Weaver. But there is warmth in this book, it is just subtle and fairly scant. In the end there is enough that there is humanity here, instead of just satire.

    20. Quite funny in a subtle way, this is the story of three old men who meet daily at the Bible - a pub in their small Welsh community - who have their lives rocked when a former student of one of the men returns to the town with her "shit" of a husband, who proceeds to seduce each of the old men's wives, then meet them at the Bible the next day. There's some lovely scenery depicted, and Faulkner-like long sentences, but it's mostly humorous watching three drunk old men discover what's going on.

    21. I enjoyed the book partly because Amis was an acute observer with an unkind eye who wrote with understanding and insight but mainly because it was and is an accurate portrayal of both the Welsh (and English for that matter) middle class. It is funny for those who know the breed and yet he conveys the desperation lying underneath some of his characters with a measure of sympathy.

    22. I really had to struggle to finish this book and resented most of the time spent reading it. The book had some merit but it really wasn't for me at this time. It was a huge disappointment as I so enjoyed Amis' Lucky Jim.

    23. This is one of my first times reading Kingsley Amis. "The Old Devils " is a acute and hilarious romp through the adventure of growing old in a rapidly changing world . I'll place Kingsley Amis on my top shelf of favorite satirists with Jonathan Swift, Rabelais, Evelyn Waugh, and Andy Borowitz.

    24. Remind me not to grow old while simultaneously being Welsh and fixated on my regrets. This is no Lucky Jim. It is just as excruciatingly vivid, just as memorable, and just as viciously honest in its portrait of far from perfect humanity. But it cuts another way and goes much darker, or much sadder, and that sadness is less frequently relieved with hilarity. The hilarity I know and love from Lucky Jim is also tempered by the harsh realities of age. Take, for instance, the five-page description of [...]

    25. This 1986 Amis title, set in South Wales at about the time of its publication, follows half a dozen generally well-to-do retirees in their 60s. Their principal occupation is drinking which they undertake with the same self-punishing élan as the author himself.Into this settled community comes a couple who left 30 years earlier for London and modest media notoriety. Their return brings not so much the whiff of stardom as the revival of long-buried broken hearts and infidelities. Amis is generall [...]

    26. Kingsley Amis writes of a loose group of elderly Welsh couples who socialize frequently and have known each other throughout their lives. Their days are lubricated with astonishing amounts of drinking, so much it hardly seems possible, but Amis was himself known to hold prodigious quantities. The chapters rotate among several of the old devils, with a darky satiric accounting of their relations, marital, extra-marital, familial, and frenemy. They frequently gather at the Bible, which turns out t [...]

    27. The Old Devils (1986) by Kingsley Amis was a Booker Prize winner for that year. I had previously only read the brilliant Lucky Jim, but always wanted to read more since I was big fan of his son Martin Amis' writing. Martin wrote appealing about his father's novels in his autobiography Experience, and The Old Devils was one of the novels he singled out as being a good read. I feel as though I am missing out on some of the fun since I am not British and I can't see what all the fuss about being We [...]

    28. An odd experience, returning to a book that I've held on a pedestal for two decades without ever having re-read until now. What did I find? A gripping, breathtaking technical achievement; a comic writer using every ounce of the skill that he's built up over the years to make this tale of nothing-particular-in-the-big-scheme-of-things work. But also the frustration from those irritating flaws in something so almost-perfect: the who-is-who confusion that mars the early chapters; the under-explored [...]

    29. Some books don't seem to age well and I'm sure this was much funnier in the mid-80's when it won the Booker Prize than it is now. The problem for me was that the first half was unspeakably dull, the story of an incestuous group of late middle-aged Welshman and Welshwomen drowning in alcohol and remembering who slept with whom among them, the consequences of this sex and wondering where it all went wrong for each of them. Maybe this largely described the social circles of the Booker judges, I don [...]

    30. I bought this to reward myself for a deadline, but dug into it over Thanksgiving with the deadline still VERY much un-met. It felt deliciously meanspirited and Amisesque at first (especially when read with a giant mug of tea in a very drafty house) but has recently soured - more like gone off - a bit like a g&t made with the "slimline tonic" one of the protagonists favors as a diet aid. Even with Amis's misogyny as a given, the women are absolute cardboard - and the men unlovable. I haven't [...]

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