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A Man of Parts Hardcover – 31 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (31 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846554969
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846554964
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 412,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Lodge's novels include Deaf Sentence, Changing Places, Small World, Nice Work, Therapy, Thinks... and Author, Author. He has also written stage plays and screenplays, and several books of literary criticism, including The Art of Fiction, Consciousness and the Novel and, most recently, The Year of Henry James. Formerly Professor of English at Birmingham University, David now writes full-time. He continues to live in Birmingham.

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Review

"Extraordinarily rich, wide-ranging and hugely entertaining." (Daily Mail)

"Excellent... scrupulous and scholarly... It bounds along terrifically." (Nicholas Lezard Guardian)

"As protean, elusive but compelling as it's hero, David Lodge's bio-novel about HG Wells breaks all the rules but still grips the reader - like Wells himself." (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"As scintillating, engaging, and multidimensional as the man whose life and character it faithfully animates." (The Atlantic)

"This is his best book in years: sprawling, funny, touching, a near-perfect fusion of story and scholarship." (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

A moving, funny and masterful novel about the life of H.G. Wells - writer, thinker, lover and man of genius.

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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
The man of parts in question here is HG Wells in this fictionalised biography. He was indeed a man of many talents and interests, although the parts that most exercise the interest of David Lodge are the great author's private parts. You see, not only was HG a prolific writer of fiction that incorporated a staggering amount of visionary ideas (tanks, airborne warfare and atomic bombs) - although admittedly some of his ideas have yet to come to pass such as time machines and Martian invasion - but he was also something of a political philosopher and idealist, being a central figure for a while in the Fabian movement, and an ardent practitioner of the concept of free love.

There are almost as many biographies and collections of correspondence on Wells as there are of HG's own works, and there is no doubt that Lodge has been meticulous in his research. So what then, does a fictionalised biography add to this? Well, the main thing is imagined conversations that make it a much more interesting read than the dryer, factual works. I confess I always have mixed views of this style as it is neither one thing nor the other, but more often than not they are entertaining and interesting and this is no exception.

One trait that the genre tends to have is that there tends to be, as here, a strong indication of life informing the literary works. This is exactly what Sebastian Faulks has railed against in Faulks on Fiction. However, Wells clearly put a lot of autobiographical content into his fiction and frequently used fiction to promote his political ideas of utopia and a socialist, world government. Often you find that the author falls into the literary equivalent of Stockholm syndrome with his subject and is uncritical of the manifest faults.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lendrick VINE VOICE on 9 May 2012
Format: Paperback
I'd not read any Lodge for a while,and seeing this in a shop was intrigued enough to buy, I know little about HG Wells beyond having read The War of the Worlds. The novelised biography is a curious concept, while Lodge provides evidence of copious references there is always the suspicion that he might have let his imagination get the better of him at points. However, by the end I was convinced he had provided a credible version of HG.

While the format is a little clunky at times - e.g. when HG cross-examines himself - but for the most part it's an engaging tale. There is no pretense at an objective view - we get HGs view of the world (or at least Lodges impression of it). So the reader is very much left to make up their own mind about HG and his life, and what a life it was.

The most eye popping aspect is of course his love life which we get in copious, though not explicit, detail. There is a lot of it, and there was a point about 2/3 of the way through when affair after affair became a bit tiresome. But there is much more, his political ideas and of course his novels ( confess I skipped over some of the descriptions of the later not wanting to spoil reading the actual book.)

Despite his flaws I came to like HG, a man ahead of his time in many ways, and who I felt always meant well. There is no way I would ever have picked up a lengthy biography of him, so Lodge has hopefully introduced many of us to a writer well worthy of reconsideration.

An enjoyable read, and an informative one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. James on 1 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Lodge,
A Man of Parts

David Lodge's latest book, A Man of Parts, is subtitled `A Novel,' but it reads and feels more like a biography of its subject, HG Wells. Lodge has become increasingly attracted to drawing on literary figures for his fiction and this latest `novel' not only straddles the two genres, but perhaps to its detriment ends by falling into pure biography.

Unlike his fictional Henry James novel Author, Author, the Wells book attempts to cover the whole story of the life and loves of the protagonist. This is some feat, as Wells had a long life, passing through two world wars, seeing dramatic changes - the rise of socialism, feminism and the erosion of traditional social and moral structures - and mixing in the most elite political and literary circles. A concise account of his encounters with friends, contacts and mistresses would fill volumes, and indeed, A Man of Parts is a modestly compact 565 pages. So the book, while never exhaustive can at times become exhausting, as we follow our hero from his shabby-genteel background to his position as popular writer, scientist, prophet and visionary on the world stage.

Perhaps the problem is that Wells himself is almost larger than life, too grandiose anyway to be fitted into novel form. During the reading one forgets that this is a novel, that most of these conversations and meditations on the state of the world are fictional. `Nearly everything that happens in this narrative is based on factual sources,' declares Lodge in his brief introduction. Thus the words of the major players speak for them. `Quotations from their books and other publications, speeches, and (with very few exceptions) letters, are their own words,' he informs us.
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