In one of the first exchanges between Robyn Penrose and Vic Wilcox in David Lodge's Nice Work, Wilcox argues about the value and meaning of work. Dr Robyn Penrose, a temporary lecturer in English literature and expert on the industrial novel of the mid-nineteenth century, has been appointed the University of Rummidge Faculty of Arts Industry Year Shadow. She is assigned to Victor Wilcox, Managing Director of J. Pringle & Sons in a government program aimed at fostering understanding between town and gown. Vic claims that the 'only criterion' to use in evaluating education is the money to be earned as a result of time and energy being expended (76). In his eyes, 'Men like to work. It's a funny thing, but they do .. . they need to work for their self-respect' (85). Contrastingly, Robyn argues for 'nice work', work that is 'meaningful' and 'rewarding', work that 'would be worth doing even if one wasn't paid anything at all' (86).
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