Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The British Museum is falling down

Hello, my name is Rosa María and I´m going to talk about the book: “The British Museum is falling down” written by David Lodge.

David Lodge is an English author born in 1935; he was brought up as a Catholic but has described himself as an “agnostic Catholic”. Catholicism is a major theme in his books. But this subject is addressed in his novels with irony and sarcasm.

The British Museum is falling down is a comic book which recounts a day in the life of a young Catholic couple in the sixties. The biggest problem they have to struggle with is their fertility because the Catholic Church doesn´t allow them to use contraceptives.

Adam Appleby wakes up distressed one November morning. He hasn´t finished his studies yet. He is preparing a thesis about English Literature. He is only twenty five years old, but he is already married with three small children. And his wife, Bárbara, could be pregnant, because her period is three days overdue.

Adams’s major wish is for Catholic Church to change its policy about birth control. In this way he could decide whether to have children or not. Or better, he could decide not to have children any more.

They are practising the “Safe period” method, which is the only contraceptive-system that Catholicism allows them to practise. But this is a mess with a lot of graphics and thermometers in which sexual activity is concentrated in less than a week a month. We can imagine the stress it leads to. Besides, this is a non-reliable method.

So Adam leaves home in distress. In the door way, he founds a mysterious letter addressed to him. He takes his dilapidated scooter and heads to the British Museum.

He arrives late at the library; there he meets Camel, a friend who is preparing a thesis “as long as anyone can remember”. Adam enjoys chatting with Camel about what they would do if they were “Prime Ministers”.
But he is very worried about his wife´s possible pregnancy, and phones her constantly.

In the phone booth, he has several adventures:
·     He meets a fat and rich American man, Adam gets him out of a couple of tight spots.
·    In another occasion Adam picks up the telephone and it’s an important message for the American man. Adam tries to phone the police in order to give him the message but there is a mistake and the policemen understand there is a fire in the British Museum.

When Adam reaches the museum and sees the firemen, he decides to escape as a fugitive. Then he opens the mysterious letter. It is a woman who has an unpublished book written by a dead Catholic author (Mr. Merrymarsh) whose literature is being studied by Adam. He goes to her house. There, the woman shows him the unpublished book, which turns to be an awful pleading about “sexual purity”.
Circumstances make Adam get enclosed with the woman´s daughter, Virginia, who is a teenager oppressed by her mother and who wants to give free rein to her sexual impulses…
On the other hand, Virginia has some stuff in which Merrymarsh shows his most impure side. She promises Adam to give him this stuff in exchange for sex.
If you want to know what happens then, you´d better read the book.

Much of action takes place in the library of The British Museum, which must be an imposing place.

I found the book boring and difficult to read. In the middle of it there are a lot of Adam´s dreams and meanderings which seemed absurd to me. Perhaps because I don´t understand English humour.

The central problem also seemed to me absurd, maybe it is due to the time in which we are living now. If you don´t really want to have more children, use contraception. Who cares what the Pope says?

On the other hand, I agree with David Lodge that Catholicism should change its birth control policy, and provide contraceptives to those disadvantaged areas in which they work helping people.
I should say I´ve never liked comic books, films or TV-programmes. Besides, English humour seems ridiculous to me.
Rosa Menéndez. Advanced level. Year 2


  1. Pity you didn't really like it, Rosa, I still think it's a great book.
    Thanks a million for your summary!


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