Read How Far Can You Go? by David Lodge Online

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David Lodge looks at the effect of the permissive society on the wider Catholic Church during the 50s, 60s and 70s. The novel centres on the lives of Polly, Dennis, Adrian and Angela as they comically come to terms with changing mores and their beliefs....

Title : How Far Can You Go?
Author :
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ISBN : 9780140057461
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 244 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

How Far Can You Go? Reviews

  • Trin
    2018-12-23 23:59

    This 1980 novel by Lodge (whom you may have noticed I've been reading a lot of and enjoying this year) follows a group of young English Catholics over a period of about 20 years, enabling us to see the ways their religion affects their lives (and their lives affect their religion), particularly in the shadow of Vatican II. I'm not Catholic, so partly this book was entertaining from an anthropological standpoint. Lodge, on the other hand, is Catholic, so you know that he's drawing at least somewhat from his own experiences—as a bit of authorial insertion he employs makes clear. This device doesn't work for me as well as some of the other creative twists on the standard novel Lodge has pulled in other works; even when done well, authorial insertion makes me a little uncomfortable. (I'm looking at you,Douglas Coupland andStephen King.) But that's not the bulk of what this novel is, which is both funny and sad, with Lodge's typical skill at capturing human motivations and, well, patheticness, in a wry, intelligent way. Reading it, I thought this novel came from much earlier in Lodge's career than it in fact does—it was actually written afterChanging Places. It feels a bit rougher to me than some of the others, and explores in less detail subjects he tackles elsewhere, like inParadise News. Still, it was highly readable and hard to put down. I'm very much enjoying having a different Lodge novel to read every few weeks, and will be sad when I run out.

  • Dorina
    2019-01-13 23:40

    Great book offering an incredible (funny) insight into the Catholic religion and the way it changed in the past century. I’m curious how a Catholic reader would find it (funny? offensive? true?) but for a non-Catholic one it is definitely an interesting read and a learning experience.

  • Carolyn
    2018-12-25 21:55

    How Far Can You Go? chronicles the progress of a circle of British Catholic university students in the 1950s and follows their lives (almost exclusively their sex lives) through the tumultuous '60s and '70s. In explicit detail, Lodge describes their early forays into heavy petting and masturbation followed by their loss of virginity, all interwoven with their feelings of (Catholic) guilt, remorse, and their struggle to follow Church teaching on sexuality.Lodge compares this moral struggle to a game of Snakes and Ladders: ". . . sin sent you plummeting down toward the Pit; the sacraments, good deeds, acts of self-mortification, enabled you to climb back towards the light. Everything you did or thought was subject to spiritual accounting. . . On the whole, a safe rule of thumb was that anything you positively disliked doing was probably Good, and anything you liked doing enormously was probably Bad, or potentially bad—an 'occasion of sin.'" Salvation and damnation are depicted as merely a game at which Catholics play.As the couples mature and marry, they change with the times, adopting relativistic views on everything from sexuality to liturgy. Lodge mixes the liberalization of practices and doctrines, leading the reader to believe that the Church and its unchanging teaching on sexual morality is culpable for the drudgery of child-rearing, mass laicization of priests, the characters' sexual and familial dysfunction, their general screw-ups and mishaps, as well as adultery, homosexuality, sexual inhibitions, mental illness, and even disabled children.Artificial contraception, specifically the birth control pill, becomes the lynch pin on which their personal ethics hinge. As its acceptance grows, Lodge describes the parallel changes in society at-large and within the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humana Vitae.The question, “How far can you go?” becomes broader than groping genitals and illicit trysts, expanding to a loss of the sense of sin, the existence of Hell, and the acknowledgment of Truth and authority. Clearly, Lodge believes there is a tipping point, though he leaves determination of its whereabouts to the reader. "But in matters of belief (as of literary convention) it is a nice question how far you can you go in this process without throwing out something vital." The ultimate question, asked by one of the characters in the final pages, is "Why be a Catholic at all?"Most depressing is that every character sees faith as merely a legalistic bargain with God, not a relationship with a loving Father. Faith becomes, at its essence, merely a game - Snakes and Ladders. Even the unnamed bishop sees the hubbub over Humana Vitae as no more than a political obstacle. In the end, the couples have replaced one misery (the rigors of self-discipline) for another (the effects of sin).While frank discussion of Church teaching, struggles with chastity, Pharisaic legalism, and human sexuality are worthwhile and important, I found this treatment bleak and disheartening. While others have hailed How Far Can You Go? as a brilliant black comedy, I found the humorous elements and wry caricatures rooted in a cynicism that comes at the expense of Truth.Lodge's writing is crisp and engaging. The narrative is interrupted at various points, however, as the author interjects a personal six-page diatribe, expounding on his contempt for natural family planning, surmising that ". . . Humana Vitae itself is a dead letter to most of the laity and merely an embarrassing nuisance to most of the clergy."How Far Can You Go? is valuable only as a window into a bygone era, an era in which the pill was considered a panacea for long-suffering, fertile Catholics. An era, thankfully, supplanted by the papacy of St. John Paul II, who asked the more meaningful question, "How do I love?"Read my full review at http://www.catholicfiction.net/book-r...

  • Iuliana
    2019-01-04 20:41

    Loved the book! Could not get enough of D. Lodge's humorous, ironical and sometimes cynical approach of Catholicism, in particular, and religion (or is it faith?)in general, viewed, reviewed, analyzed, scrutinized, criticized while dealing with the torments his characters are dealing with, trying to cope in a world of religious beliefs and practices which not only restrict, but sometimes crush the freedom and nature of human spirit as it develops itself, trying to move from the stages of curiosity and need to understand the changes one's body and spirit naturally undergoes while gradually moving from the cocoon to the butterfly stage - the stage of understood, explored and assumed maturity (by understanding and accepting one's being), as opposed to the changing world outside the conformity and strictness of the church or traditional home. Lodge's prosaic style guards the reader from any potentially unwanted over-sentimental approach of his character's bumpy voyage through the wild-wood of experiences in the 1960s, when the clash between religious strictness, on the one hand, with the sense of guilt or punishments clad in different forms it gives rise to when one even dares to look through the window of life with different eyes than the ones they were taught when brought up, and the liberation from all sorts of prejudices, stigma, stereotypes and behaviors which the '60s fostered, on the other hand, could give rise to and make room for the feared but somehow inevitable (in a well-defined world of punishment) personal drama.The book seems to be preaching against the idea of an immutable, absolute religious perspective on life - this one or the afterlife (this is what one of the characters tacitly accepts when musing on her being Catholic, saying that she might as well have been of different religion by birth), or even religious at all, especially if we look at how the line between what is acceptable and what is not in the Church's eyes can move depending on the social, etc. events, movements. The author's ludic style plays a major role in this respect. The ending best sums this up: nothing is carved in stone, the future is uncertain.

  • Mark Mcphee
    2018-12-24 20:55

    "So they stood upon the shores of Faith and felt the old dogmas and certainties ebbing away rapidly under their feet and between their toes, sapping the foundations upon which they stood, a sensation both agreeably stimulating and slightly unnerving. For we all like to believe, do we not, if only in stories? People who find religious belief absurd are often upset if a novelist breaks the illusion of reality he has created. Our friends had started life with too many beliefs - the penalty of a Catholic upbringing. They were weighed down with beliefs, useless answers to non-questions. To work their way back to the fundamental ones - what can we know? why is there anything at all? why not nothing? what may we hope? why are we here? what is it all about? - they had to dismantle all that apparatus of superfluous belief and discard it piece by piece. But in matters of belief (as of literary convention) it is a nice question how far you can go in this process without throwing out something vital."

  • Courtenay
    2019-01-20 00:50

    Excellent portrayal of how Vatican II shook things up. Human loves have always been out of order unless they are directed by God. God is one of order. The hope of this book is that every age will have its downfall temporarily. But in the end, things will be brought upright again. We have our moments of outrage and reform and then realize the downfall of how far we take it. Something is usually birthed from it--some good, some bad. Therefore continuous revision. That is why I am quite glad the Holy Spirit is the overseer of all things and the God of truth will fill all things and all worlds will be the way they ought to be.

  • Stela
    2019-01-19 18:32

    A-l citi pe Lodge nu e niciodata atît de simplu pe cît pare la prima vedere. Ironia si verva povestirii te pot impiedica uneori sa treci de primele niveluri de lectura si sa uiti, mult mai usor decit in cazul altor scriitori dublati de critici literari, ca stie sa mînuiasca toate uneltele narative, ca un artificiu literar nu e niciodata folosit empiric, ca exista niste sfori care manevreaza personajele si un subtil deus ex machina care conduce actiunea spre un deznodamînt.Numai ca, de data aceasta, Marele Papusar s-a hotarît sa se autodeconspire, sa iasa la lumina reflectoarelor conform bunului obicei postmodernist si sa se transforme in narator-personaj-romancier-critic literar, într-o polemica indulgenta cu sine si cu cititorul, creînd, într-o maniera subtila, un roman despre roman.De aceea, descoperim în Cît sa-ntindem coarda (cel putin) trei planuri compozitionale : unul, sa-i spunem documentar, bine ancorat în realitate, cu informatii despre încercarile de modernizare ale Bisericii catolice de-a lungul a 23 de ani (din 1952, cînd începe actiunea, pîna în 1975, cînd se încheie mai mult sau mai putin), unul fictional, urmarind destinul unor personaje în relatie cu aceeasi Biserica catolica si unul autoreferential, în care naratorul ne dezvaluie sau se preface ca ne dezvaluie tehnici narative si/sau de interpretare, se creeaza ca personaj etc. Planul documentar este, evident, exemplificat prin cel fictional, personajele fiind variante ale credinciosului catolic: preotul (Austin Brierley), calugarita (Ruth), cucernica (Angela), convertitul homosexual reprimat (Miles), libertina (Polly) etc. si de aceea sînt adesea mai greu de tinut minte individual si mai usor de asimilat ca un personaj colectiv. Principala problema pe care tinerii trebuie s-o rezolve este împacarea învatamintelor bisericesti cu descoperirea propriei sexualitati. Daca la început conceptia lor despre lume este ferma în naivitatea ei (omul se afla între Rai si Iad si doar credinta si obedienta îl pot salva), pe masura ce capata experienta casatoriei, îsi pierd virginitatea si fac copii (cam în aceasta ordine), preceptele religioase tind sa piarda din importanta, pîna cînd “într-un anumit moment din anii ’60, iadul a disparut” (p.162) cum s-ar zice, pe masura ce capata constiinta de sine, eroii renunta la gesturile dogmatice (participarea la toate slujbele), se revolta împotriva unor decizii (enciclica papei care interzicea contraceptia, d. e.) si le încalca (încep sa foloseasca anticonceptionale), îsi cauta forme proprii de exprimare spirituala (devin membri ai unei biserici experimentale: Catolicii pentru o biserica deschisa), renunta la biserica (parintele Austin Brierley se casatoreste, Ruth pleaca în pelerinaj si are o epifanie in Disneyland (!)) etc. Toate acestea se petrec treptat, personajele avînd parte de experiente adesea comice, de-a lungul carora teme serioase ca prima iubire, boala, casatoria, religia si moartea sînt demitizate cu umor si adesea tandrete.Oricît de interesanta este analiza sufletului catolic (si nu mi-am putut reprima la un moment dat un gînd rautacios cu privire la extensivele informatii prezente în roman) semnificatia profunda a operei nu o gasim aici, ci în al treilea plan, dezvaluit treptat. La început, e doar o sugestie: romanul începe în stil balzacian, cu detalii arhitecturale si temporale si cu celebrul artificiu compozitional care aduna personajele la un loc (o slujba la biserica) pentru a le prezenta deodata. Dar naratorul omniscient dispare repede, facînd loc unei voci pretins critice, care tine sa ne atraga atentia asupra semnificatiilor numelor si a detaliilor vestimentare, uneori în cel mai absurd stil scolaresc: d. e. Adrian, “cel cu ochelari (=vederi limitate), îmbracat cu palton de gabardina cu cordon (= reprimare a instinctelor, hotarîre si spirit autoritar).” (p. 28). Naratorul se identifica mai încolo cu romancierul, evocînd scrisoarea unui cititor ceh dupa aparitia romanului Muzeul britanic s-a darîmat!, pe care acesta îl numise “o carte extrem de surîzatoare” si profitînd de ocazie pentru a-si deconspira intentiile fata de cititor: “Cartea de fata nu este chiar un roman comic, dar am încercat sô fac sa surîda cît am putut de mult”. (p.111) În alta parte, naratorul citeaza un critic francez cu privire la tehnicile narative pentru a explica un pasaj din opera, iar în ultimul capitol paseste cu totul în roman, devenind o voce neidentificata dintr-un scenariu transcris de Michael dupa emisiunea filmata de sotul lui Polly. Este vocea care sterge distinctia dintre text si metatext, creînd o paralela explicita între relatia personajelor cu religia si relatia cititorului cu romanul: “Este la fel ca atunci cînd citim un roman sau – daca tot vorbim de asa ceva – atunci cînd scriem unul si ne mentinem o constiinta dubla asupra personajelor – care sînt, cum ar veni, atît reale cît si fictionale, libere si conditionate – stiind ca, oricît de captivante si convingatoare ni s-ar parea ele, nu vrem sa citim (sau sa scriem, în functie de situatie) numai povestea, ci si o parte din acea serie nesfîrsita de povesti cu ajutorul carora omul a cautat si va cauta întotdeauna sa dea un sens vietii. Si mortii.” (p. 327)În fine, în capitolul final naratorul se include firesc printre personajele al caror destin prezent si viitor îl deconspira (în acelasi stil realist care vrea sa prelungeasca iluzia ca viata lor va continua si dupa ce romanul s-a încheiat): “Eu predau literatura engleza la o universitate din caramida rosie, iar în timpul liber scriu încet-încet romane si sînt în criza de timp.” (p. 331) Ultimele cuvinte, adresate cititorului, sînt numai aparent o parodie a stilului naiv din cronicile de odinioara, caci acel “Ramas bun, cititorule!” este de fapt reafirmarea celui mai bine conturat personaj din opera: naratorul-romancier.

  • Vlad Dasca
    2019-01-22 20:39

    Sweet, at times funny, at times sad and serious, yet it manages in a tremendously light-hearted manner to start an interesting train of thought about life, love, morality and the benefits of a good fuck

  • Ailsa Jo.
    2018-12-28 00:54

    For one thing, DL really enjoys projecting himself into one or a few of his contrasting male characters, and there's always a cheeky, atheletic intellectual who mocks another pathetic, unprosperous college professor.   Of course, in the end the pathetic one always will get an enlightment to compensate himself, while the desire to change, to revolt die down.      This book is all about the Catholics in the '60s, how their religious belief shatters under the pressure of maturity and domestic life. The foremost propellor in this case is unmet sexual desires, demonstrated under various case scenarios. Dennis is never sexually appeased, while his family suffers from tragical loss; Michael always wanting to be more erotically consummated; Polly is not certain whether she's traditionally cut out or just not bold enough; Miles being repressed for nearly half a century; Adrian being discouraged from the first attempt of pursuit...   My favourite characters in this book are Tessa and Michael. But I'll grant you, every character is reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally funny.   Tessa has experienced a confused period when her husband Edward couldn't perform a masculine role in bed due to back injuries. She praticed yoga and jazz dance to placate herself. When she had the chance to leave home for a week to attend a literature course, jee, she was so horrified by the sexual maniacs who tried to have some fun during the time-out. I laughed so hard when Paul (or Peter, or Paulo, or whatever that young man's name is) exposed himself stark naked after Tessa went to fetch coffee, only to find himself screamed at and covered with scalding hot coffee. Oh it's hilarious.   Michael, on the other hand, falls into the more pathetic-old-man category. He went to London to check out his bowels, and carried with him a whole "barrel" of climacteric stools! When the scent went about, oh it's just so embarassingly funny. In Deaf Sentence and his other works, DL just loves to create such I-don't-know-how-to-deal-with-it-oh-god-save-me scenarios. Old men are just so helpless. 23333      DL discusses the many twists and turns within the Catholics church, the change in Pope's decrees, the change in the Catholic practices, the change in the media outcry. While most of the argument finally centres on the issue of abortion, the tension lurks in every aspect of this religion. How to interpret the ressurrection (whether literally or metaphorically), how to perform sermons, how to organize Sunday masses, etc., etc. Ruth, the most determined nun, felt for the first time in her heart the power of the belief in a prayer group in the States, which is quite unconventional, when you consider the fact that she has spent quite a life time in a proper convent.      Anyway, this book successfully reflects a Britain at a time of confusion and disbelief. Till this day there's still no answer, whether we can find salvation in this life time.

  • Ruth
    2019-01-10 02:38

    I don't know what I was expecting when I took this down from the shelf. I was looking for something short, something I could finish before the next assignment came through, and I had some vague memory of having read a couple of David Lodge's books before and enjoyed them. However, that may have been because they were the only English books in a Francophile's library.I was not expecting to have the author address me directly. I was not expecting a cast of characters whose soul purpose was to forward the author's agenda. I was certainly not expecting a book on the changes wrought on the Catholic Church by Vatican II. But Lodge's dry sense of humor pulled me in and after the first few chapters, I was hooked. I very much appreciated the view Lodge gives of the pre-Vatican Church, especially from the perspective of young Catholics. My life actually intersected the Church and overlaps the book toward the end and I had been given some glimpses of the change itself from my ex- (yes, ex-) husband, how in one week his particular church went from mumbling back of a priest to a guitar-playing folk group with a whole new set of liturgical music. How great a change occurred with the specific view to sex and sin, I was too late in joining to have a personal feel for and I found that fascinating. I would say that this is not really a novel in the usual sense. Lodge's agenda is clearly spelled out directly to the reader from very early on, as it was cast of characters, each representing a different experience of the laity, and to a lessor degree, the called, rather than a group of people with their own story to tell through the author. However, Lodge's writing ability allows us to acknowledge that we are being led through a history book without resenting it, even enjoying it. I did, anyway.A couple of only tangentially related comments: I had the additional enjoyment of reading this book on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II; and, for those Americans out there, 'Snakes and Ladders' is the old childhood game of 'Chutes and Ladders'

  • Pietia
    2019-01-02 02:45

    Lubię takie książki- niespodzianki. Nic nie mówiło mi nazwisko autora, okładka niewiele zdradzała, recenzji przed lekturą zwykle nie czytam. Przerzucając strona po stronie tę niewielkich rozmiarów książkę, otwierałem szerzej oczy ze zdumienia jak trafnie, prawdziwie i pięknie zarazem, z wyczuciem, ale i humorem oraz ironią opisać można przemiany lat 60-tych i 70-tych ubiegłego wieku, gdzie z jednej strony nastąpiła rewolucja seksualna, a z drugiej rewolucja kościelna (jednak nie w sprawach seksualnych). Oto mamy grupkę angielskich katolików, którzy dorastając, niemal na każdym kroku zadawać sobie muszą wiele pytań, między innymi to, gdzie leży granica. Tytułowe pytanie można by sformułować inaczej: jak sobie radzić w świecie religijnych wierzeń i praktyk, które są nie tylko restrykcyjne, ale które praktycznie duszą w zarodku wolność człowieka, tę wolność zarazem opiewając i głosząc. Sugestywne obrazy ognia piekielnego, obsesja czystości i grzechu zaszczepione młodym ludziom (pamiętajmy, że to czasy przedsoborowe w Kościele) będą im towarzyszyć przez całe ich dorosłe życie mając przeogromny wpływ na ich wybory i decyzje lub ich brak. Ci posłańcy mieszczańskiej moralności wtłoczeni zostali w zamkniety krąg, który trafnie wyraża jedna z bohaterek, bo "do szczęścia brakuje jej zawsze wyrzutów sumienia, a gdy je wreszcie ma, czuje się nieszczęśliwa z ich powodu". Próbują się z tego wyrwać, od tego uciec. Tracą dziewictwo ( nie bez wyrzutów sumienia i lęku przed piekłem), wyobrażają sobie, "jak to będzie, kiedy obudzą się pewnego ranka i przeczytają w gazetach, że papież pozwolił w końcu na stosowanie środków antykoncepcyjnych", próbują sobie radzić z miłością i śmiercią w cieniu tych obsesji. Książka kończy się wyborem Jana Pawła II na papieża i pytaniem: co się stanie teraz? "Rachuby zawodzą, przyszłość wydaje się mglista i niepewna".My już wiemy po ćwierćwieczu pontyfikatu tego papieża-konserwatysty, co się stało. Na tyle wiemy, że zanucić sobie możemy stadionową przyśpiewkę: Nic się nie stało, [Polacy], nic się nie stało....A raczej, nic się nie zmieniło...

  • Pietia
    2019-01-22 18:40

    Lubię takie książki- niespodzianki. Nic nie mówiło mi nazwisko autora, okładka niewiele zdradzała, recenzji przed lekturą zwykle nie czytam. Przerzucając strona po stronie tę niewielkich rozmiarów książkę, otwierałem szerzej oczy ze zdumienia jak trafnie, prawdziwie i pięknie zarazem, z wyczuciem, ale i humorem oraz ironią opisać można przemiany lat 60-tych i 70-tych ubiegłego wieku, gdzie z jednej strony nastąpiła rewolucja seksualna, a z drugiej rewolucja kościelna (jednak nie w sprawach seksualnych). Oto mamy grupkę angielskich katolików, którzy dorastając, niemal na każdym kroku zadawać sobie muszą wiele pytań, między innymi to, gdzie leży granica. Tytułowe pytanie można by sformułować inaczej: jak sobie radzić w świecie religijnych wierzeń i praktyk, które są nie tylko restrykcyjne, ale które praktycznie duszą w zarodku wolność człowieka, tę wolność zarazem opiewając i głosząc. Sugestywne obrazy ognia piekielnego, obsesja czystości i grzechu zaszczepione młodym ludziom (pamiętajmy, że to czasy przedsoborowe w Kościele) będą im towarzyszyć przez całe ich dorosłe życie mając przeogromny wpływ na ich wybory i decyzje lub ich brak. Ci posłańcy mieszczańskiej moralności wtłoczeni zostali w zamkniety krąg, który trafnie wyraża jedna z bohaterek, bo "do szczęścia brakuje jej zawsze wyrzutów sumienia, a gdy je wreszcie ma, czuje się nieszczęśliwa z ich powodu". Próbują się z tego wyrwać, od tego uciec. Tracą dziewictwo ( nie bez wyrzutów sumienia i lęku przed piekłem), wyobrażają sobie, "jak to będzie, kiedy obudzą się pewnego ranka i przeczytają w gazetach, że papież pozwolił w końcu na stosowanie środków antykoncepcyjnych", próbują sobie radzić z miłością i śmiercią w cieniu tych obsesji. Książka kończy się wyborem Jana Pawła II na papieża i pytaniem: co się stanie teraz? "Rachuby zawodzą, przyszłość wydaje się mglista i niepewna".My już wiemy po ćwierćwieczu pontyfikatu tego papieża-konserwatysty, co się stało. Na tyle wiemy, że zanucić sobie możemy stadionową przyśpiewkę: Nic się nie stało, [Polacy], nic się nie stało....A raczej, nic się nie zmieniło...

  • David Rodeback
    2019-01-10 01:45

    David Lodge is always a good read. He writes his novels and literary criticism with wit, intelligence, heart, and skill. This fictional look at a circle of British Catholics who are pulled in various directions by forces within their church, to say nothing of their families and 1970s British society, is timely in the 2010s. In my own and other churches, good people struggle to position themselves faithfully and intelligently with respect to church, society, and family. The struggle is as old as organized religion itself, but is not always so conspicuously in the foreground as it now appears to be.The reader is warned: One cannot -- or at least Lodge does not -- write of Catholics and the sexual revolution without writing of sex and birth control (both within and outside of marriage). He is generally tasteful (by my subjective standard), except for a scattering of f-bombs and other language. I didn't find it pornographic. And Lodge's novel describes more repression and frustration of physical urges than indulgence of them. (As a friend would sagely observe of his own people, we are talking about Catholics here.)Yet this novel isn't finally about sex and birth control at all. It is about people -- vividly drawn, compelling characters -- who struggle to make practical and theoretical sense of personal religious faith and experience, institutional religion and forms of worship, the authority and fallibility of religious leaders, and the advancement and excesses of society at large. In this sense too -- perhaps especially in this sense -- it is not a book for the faint-hearted.That said -- and I don't mean to boast -- I'm thinking seriously of rereading it immediately. It made me think, and I think I would like to think some more.This novel was published in England under the title How Far Can You Go?

  • Sharon
    2019-01-06 21:01

    Captivating when read as a novel and intriguing when looked at as a historical view on the Catholic Church, Lodge’s How Far Can You Go? follows seven friends from their lives nearing the end of convent school right through to middle age. Looking at the issues facing their young lives of sex before marriage and then the problems associated with the Catholic church not condoning the contraceptive pill, these characters are entering a confusing world made only the more so by their religion. As we travel with them through their twenties and thirties we see them take very different directions – some having large numbers of children sometimes through choice but also through fear of being condemned for using contraception, others literally cracking up (possibly brought on by their background), some facing a struggle with their sexuality, some renouncing the church while others remain with it but form a group campaigning for change. We stay with them through their insecurities, tragedies, infidelities and resolutions.Lodge has created a wonderfully warm, sometimes sad and often quite funny but above all honest and believable novel. He has also integrated within this an historical account of the Catholic religion and its changing faces during the 1950s – 70s. He is not afraid to go into fair amounts of fact and detail but it never feels like a lecture, just interesting background that makes the story element all the more real.

  • Ginni
    2018-12-29 23:43

    As this was on our shelves, and is a 1983 reprint of a 1980 Penguin edition, I assumed I'd read it in the '80s when I read most other David Lodge novels and enjoyed them. In fact I think this is the first reading for me, and will be the last. I found the description of Catholicism interesting, and the changes outlined between the 1950s and 1970s in England mirrored my own experience of an Anglo-Catholic in the Church of England.However I couldn't relate to the characters particularly, and indeed found myself getting confused between the different couples and their struggles with religion. Emphasis was particularly on the issues of sexual relationships and contraception, and at times the book was more of a diatribe on Catholicism than a novel. Indeed the author admits that he is using his characters as devices to make particular points. The authorial presence is very pronounced here, which I found rather tedious. Also I didn't really find humour, even black humour - the front cover of my edition has a comment from Graham Greene "Hilarious...a magnificent book". As Mr Greene gets quite a few plugs for his novels in the course of the novel, my reaction was 'He would say that....' A shame as I have enjoyed the other David Lodge novels I've read.

  • Bogdan
    2018-12-28 01:41

    There is one major problem with this novel: when you try to create a dramatic effect after over 100 pages of what appeared to be a satirical novel you end up diminishing the drama and, if you are not a talented writer, even risking up to end up in parody. For Lodge, it is not a problem to avoid the parody, but still the dramatic aspect of the novel fades up as it is surrounded by a lot of humor.The humor still helps the novel in some way, as it makes it probably more easily accessible for a wide range of readers, including teenagers that are more and more less attracted by this type of entertainment.On the topic of the novel, I was extremely happy to be able to read about the transformational journey of Catholics and Catholicism during the decades of 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. As I am living in an majority Orthodox country and missed those decades as I come up in the world slightly at the end of the period, I was unaware of many of the things that had changes for Catholics, especially for the ones living outside of the Berlin Wall.All in all, the novel is very interesting and I am glad to come across it.

  • Sara
    2019-01-16 21:34

    This is less a novel than a case study on the changes in the Catholic church in the 1960s and 70s. There is a large cast of characters and they're all stock characters - each one seems designed to tell us about a specific way that the church changed or affected people's lives. I would have been more interested in a novel that focused on a few people and delved more deeply into their inner lives and struggles with the church and how to live their lives. A novel can be personal, political, or a combination of the two and this one is very much on the political end of the spectrum. Personally, I like a novel to chart a course down the middle combining personal and political, so I liked this less than others might. Also, I went to Catholic school and knew a fair amount already about the issues discussed in the book (it focuses largely on whether birth control is permitted), so I felt that it was often overdrawn. There's not much subtlety. But if you either don't know much about the issue or are really fascinated by it, you might find more to enjoy.

  • Emily
    2019-01-10 22:54

    I enjoyed reading this, although it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Lodge often interrupts the narrative to sketch out the historical context in more detail, or to reflect more deliberately on the effects of social changes in his characters' lives - though as he persistently reminds the reader, they are only characters. It's a clever book, and in many ways this blending of fiction, fact, social commentary etc. might be the best way to explore the impact of wider changes in the Catholic church on the everyday lives (sex lives in particular) on its adherents, in quite an empathetic way, without judgement or black & white morality, just an understanding that life is complicated.

  • Josh
    2019-01-16 23:58

    David Lodge can write witheringly funny and pointed satires, and this one more or less falls into that category; it's a book about how sexual ethics intersect with out faith lives, our marriages, our friendships, our feelings of guilt and self-respect, and much more-- but more than anything else, it's a fascinating critique of the Catholic Church and its claims to authority. The book can be rather dry at times, and some of its lengthy discussions of Catholic teaching make it feel more like an essay than a novel. With that said, the book has several passages that are both funny and heartbreaking, which makes it well worth reading.

  • Beth
    2019-01-01 18:57

    David Lodge's work usually makes me laugh a lot, sometimes ruefully because I share some character's foibles, sometimes uproariously for the sheer lunacy of a character, and sometimes because Lodge is just plain funny. I didn't find this one funny, though; it's decently written, but not funny to me. I think that I am a generation or so too young to get a lot of the humor. That is certainly not Lodge's fault. I would recommend this book to people who came of age in the early 1960s, especially if you are or were Roman Catholic. Students of modern and postmodern history will also find this a fun read.

  • Joel Gomes
    2018-12-31 21:32

    O David Lodge habituou-me a bons livros e este não foi excepção. Este é um bom livro, mas achei que lhe faltava qualquer coisa. Está muito bem escrito, com um vasto leque de personagens, todas elas bem definidas. O que é que faltou? Um plot. Se isto fosse uma biografia de um grupo de pessoas estaria tudo bem, mas sendo um romance faltou algo. Habitualmente, os livros de David Lodge lêm-se depressa porque as histórias são cativantes e a sua escrita é simples, directa e rápida; no caso de How Far Can You Go?, Até Onde Se Pode Ir?, na versão portuguesa, se não fosse pela escrita teria demorado bastante mais tempo a terminar isto.

  • Ryan Williams
    2018-12-23 18:56

    I've amassed a small stack of David Lodge novels with the intent of reading the lot, one after the other. To date, I have never read any of his fiction. (A rather stuffy textbook called Working With Structuralism, yes, but I imagine that's a book even Lodge pretends was never written.)How Far Can You Go reads like a written down documentary, but with a sharp - often belittling - eye. Perhaps believing Catholics will get more out of it. I never understood why the characters didn't do the obvious thing - namely use birth control and tell the Pope to get stuffed.

  • Headley Mist
    2019-01-15 21:33

    Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes the author deliberately dives out of the frame to remind us of that this is just a book. What i like abouth the author is the way he treats his characters - with respect and understanding, without judgements and justifications.Not what I would call a typical novel by Lodge, but highly recommended to those interested in religion and ethnography.

  • Fashion and Textile Museum
    2018-12-26 18:39

    A Catholic by birth, David Lodge deploys his erudite wit in the study of changing attitudes towards Catholicism, seen through the lives of a group of university graduates, and their struggles with marriage, contraception, adultery, illness, grief and, most important of all, the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council and the 1968 papal encyclical against contraception, Humanae Vitae.By Sarah Vine

  • Jennie
    2019-01-04 02:55

    A book so good, I missed my bus stop on more than one occasion because I was too engrossed.Lodge explores a group of Catholic college students and the priest that leads them both in school and then traces their lives afterwards. Caught in a changing world of cultural upheaval, they are often left asking the question of how far CAN you go before being dashed off to hell?Hilarious, this will make you a Lodge fan for life.

  • Anne
    2019-01-19 22:02

    I finished this book but only just. I'm an atheist from way back and find most religions, particularly Catholicism, alien. The book relayed the history of changes in the religion during the 1970s in huge detail, while the supporting characters' stories' got very short shrift. All the characters felt like they had stories to tell but they were kept tantalizingly at a distance while I waded through a history lesson in which I had absolutely no interest.

  • Margherita Dolcevita
    2018-12-28 01:33

    Meno divertente dei precedenti che ho letto di Lodge e più ricco di riflessioni e di digressioni, in questo caso sulla morale cattolica e di come ha cercato di evolversi dagli anni '50 ai '70, con tutte le ipocrisie e i dubbi del clero ma anche dei credenti. L'ho letto volentieri e trovato molto bello, forse una pecca è nell'eccessivo numero di personaggi, si rischia di confonderli.

  • Linnea
    2019-01-07 20:53

    Those silly Catholics and their silly rules about sex . . . oh wait . . . A book about trying to figure out where to draw the line, follows eight Catholic kids through college and then through life. It's an interesting look at trying to be Catholic through the 50's, 60's, and 70's in England, and therefore at trying to be Christian.

  • Lorenzo Berardi
    2019-01-12 01:59

    Glittering Genius.It's not about the characters. It's about the situation and the sober and yet hilarious analysis of a bunch of pretty successful but rather confused British Catholics between the 1950s and the 1970s.The pages in which the whole strict Catholic education mechanism is compared to the Snakes and Ladders boardgame are simply perfect.

  • Jeff
    2019-01-02 00:49

    I have the American version of this book, titled "Souls and Bodies". This book may be more interesting to Catholic readers than the general public. It really does go into a lot of detail about Catholic thought and policy during the decades in question.Not as humorous as Small World, but not as much of a downer as Therapy, definitely worth reading if you like Lodge.