A Man of Parts Paperback – 12 Jan 2012
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"This is his best book in years: sprawling, funny, touching, a near-perfect fusion of story and scholarship" (Mail on Sunday)
"Excellent... scrupulous and scholarly... It bounds along terrifically" (Guardian)
"Lodge's robust approach, his insights, energy and humour, enable him to present HG as a man not only for his own times but also for ours" (Patricia Craig Irish Times)
"Absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable" (Allan Massie Scotsman)
"David Lodge's novel goes straight to the heart of the story... It is pure fun" (Claire Harman Evening Standard)
A moving, funny and masterful novel about the life of H.G. Wells - writer, thinker, lover and man of genius.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Sorry Mr. Lodge I am a big fan, but not of this one.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received this book today shortly after placing the order. It was extremely well packaged. Thank you for that. I am sure that I will enjoy reading it.Published 6 months ago by Bregis
In the past I've greatly enjoyed David Lodge's novels, and I'm an enthusiast for H G Wells, so I was hoping for good things from this. Read morePublished 13 months ago by A. Crowther
A very interesting book, maybe because I had little prior knowledge of the subject matter. However it was well written and kept me reading - always a good sign.Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
As I read this lengthy novel, I often needed to remind myself that it is a work of fiction and not biography. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Douglas Kemp
Erudite, thoroughly researched but not at all an over-bearing "academic" novel. All that you'd expect from David Lodge.
Both loved and disliked Wells at the end. Read more
As much as I like David Lodge - I've read most of his novels - this one just didn't work for me. I gave up after about 100 pages. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Kirk McElhearn