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The History of Mr. Polly Paperback – 31 Mar 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (31 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441078
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

H.G. Wells is often cataloged as a pioneer of science fiction (which he was) . . . but he was also a great Edwardian writer of immense fame and influence who deserves to be remembered as a major literary figure (GUARDIAN)

A delightful comedy of everyday Edwardian England that draws inspiration from its author's own life . . . The story - still strikingly modern - is a comedy about a midlife crisis . . . a comedy of ordinary, provincial life, rooted in the everyday, with countless brilliantly observed details . . . The History of Mr Polly has a special charm as a novel in which, for once, Wells became carefree and relaxed, and described the thing he could never find for himself - peace of mind (Robert McCrum Guardian)

'The History of Mr Polly (1910) is a disturbing comic masterpiece . . . a more gently satirical and masculine counterpart to Flaubert's Madame Bovary . . . a classic of radical existentialism, and, after 100 years, still amusing, unsettling and powerfully contemporary ' (Washington Post)

Widely considered to be Wells's most perfectly-formed novel, this comic idyll is the story of a henpecked, unsuccessful, desperately frustrated small shopkeeper who bungles but survives a suicide-and-arson attempt, and becomes master of his fate under another identity (David Lodge GUARDIAN) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

H. G. Wells was a professional writer and journalist, who published more than a hundred books, including novels, histories, essays and programmes for world regeneration. Wells's prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction, but later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress. His controversial views on sexual equality and the shape of a truly developed nation remain directly relevant to our world today. He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, 'an important liberator of thought and action'.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Always find H. G. Wells an interesting writer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
EXCELLENT!!! All lower ratings are wrong.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read this when I was at school, liked it then, like it now.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A humorous book with likeable characters and a good read. Will be searching for more novels written by H.G.Wells .
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Please do not waste your money on this edition of the book. It is so badly printed as to be illegible. There is no formatting. The font size is miniscule, with 200+ pages in the classic edition other readers in my book club had crammed into around 100 pages. I could not read a page without getting a headache!
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Format: Paperback
For those who, like me, were always put off HG Wells through a mistaken belief that he was a science fiction writer, The History of Mr Polly may well come as a pleasant surprise.
The book is the reassuring tale of one mans eventful stumble toward utopia, which should offer hope to fretful drifters the world over.
Three quarters of the book chronicles the painfully comic descent of Mr Polly from youthful apprentice in a leading department store to the middle aged, unhappily married and bankrupt-in-all-but-name owner of a regional gentlemans outfitters. Mr Polly manages to gain weight, while his hair recedes and number of friends dwindle. Polly retreats behind the pages of his beloved books, until he finally decides to put an end to his increasingly miserable existence. This is the turning point of Mr Polly's life. He comes out of the botched attempt a hero, yet rejects his previous life and goes off in search of a new one. This Mr Polly finds.
Although the tone of the novel is definitely black this book should definitely leave you feeling good about yourself. It offers hope that a happy life is out there for everyone and that it is never too late to go out and find it.
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By A Customer on 9 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
This great novel gives a fantastic account of rural Enland in the early 19th century, the list given of his jobs and chores at a countryside inn is spellbinding. I imagine Wells wanted it to be long and comprehensive to show what a busy chap Mr Polly would be, today it reads like an evocation of lost arts and crafts. i wonder if anyone still does any of the repair jobs on machinery and buildings. Plus, they look very tiring, or extremeliciously fatigatious as Mr Polly might have said, his use of language an neologisms being a glorious additition to the book and dialogue.
He is not an all round good egg by any means, but you can't help but like him. His joy at finding people who listen to him and enjoy his books is infectious through the pages and reminds me of the end of Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square when the principal character is appreciated for once due to his good nature and conversation. While he has his darker side he is one of the great fictional creations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'The History of Mr Polly' is a charming, comic, faintly melancholic portrait of a man of the lower middle classes struggling to find purpose and fulfilment in his provincial, Edwardian English life.

Though distinctly of its place and time, the novel, through the character of Mr Polly, manages to tackle, with some gusto and personality, the universal and timeless questions of modern day existence: is the drudgery of the workaday world really worth enduring? Are we inescapably trapped? What of love and beauty and bliss?

I've not encountered a great many misfitting, uninspired, thwarted protagonists, such as Alfred Polly, in my reading. Okay, post-war American literature does feature a fair array of drop-out, anti-hero types but quite unlike Polly: awkward, jolly, inept, silly; a little bit pompous and self-regarding (I'm thinking of his linguistic contortions) and completely self-defeating with it. Well's unflinchingly reveals the totality of a mediocre man crushed by conventions and a miserable lot. No bravado, no machismo, no sensational descent into addiction or depravity. Just the bothersome reality of the Edwardian squeeze. (Admittedly, there is a sensational self-destructive effort, but typically, botched and comical.)

Polly is a likeable cove. And to a fellow misguided, thwarted individual of a horribly more modernacious era, remains a stirring inspiration.
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