A Man of Parts: A Novel

( 1 )

Overview

A riveting novel about the remarkable lifeand many lovesof author H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, was one of the twentieth century's most prophetic and creative writers, a man who immersed himself in socialist politics and free love, whose meteoric rise to fame brought him into contact with the most important literary, intellectual, and political figures of his time, but who in later years felt increasingly ignored and disillusioned ...

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A Man of Parts

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Overview

A riveting novel about the remarkable lifeand many lovesof author H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, was one of the twentieth century's most prophetic and creative writers, a man who immersed himself in socialist politics and free love, whose meteoric rise to fame brought him into contact with the most important literary, intellectual, and political figures of his time, but who in later years felt increasingly ignored and disillusioned in his own utopian visions. Novelist and critic David Lodge has taken the compelling true story of Wells's life and transformed it into a witty and deeply moving narrative about a fascinating yet flawed man.

Wells had sexual relations with innumerable women in his lifetime, but in 1944, as he finds himself dying, he returns to the memories of a select group of wives and mistresses, including the brilliant young student Amber Reeves and the gifted writer Rebecca West. As he reviews his professional, political, and romantic successes and failures, it is through his memories of these women that he comes to understand himself. Eloquent, sexy, and tender, the novel is an artfully composed portrait of Wells's astonishing life, with vivid glimpses of its turbulent historical background, by one of England's most respected and popular writers.

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Editorial Reviews

Christina Schwarz
"This novel is as scintillating, engaging, and multidimensional as the man whose life and character it faithfully animates . . . Lodge neatly shifts between narrative and probing interview, to reveal the intersections of writer, thinker, and man . . . Ultimately, this novel's sensitive and lively examination of its protagonist's relationships with women is what really fleshes out (so to speak) his attractive character."
Michael Dirda
"A terrifically enjoyable novel . . . A Man of Parts explores, with great verve, Wells's lifelong attempt to honor his own complexity, to be true to himself as a sexual being, a loving family man, a creative artist and an ambitious social thinker . . . Even if you're up on Wells's life and writings, Lodge makes his novel-cum-biography mesmerizing."
Christopher Benfey
"[A] smart, engaging novel . . . Lodge has made something of a specialty of intellectuals behaving badly in bed."
Claire Tomalin
"Entertaining and persuasive . . . A Man of Parts allows Lodge to concentrate on comedy and character . . . [his] interest is in the private rather than the public Wells."
Christopher Benfey
…[a] smart, engaging novel…
—The New York Times Book Review
Michael Dirda
Even if you're well up on Wells's life and writings, Lodge makes his novel-cum-biography mesmerizing…Lodge orchestrates the biographical narrative of A Man of Parts with his usual easy-going lightness and grace. Nonetheless, this is—for all its Wellsian particularities—still the common human story of how life, sooner or later, defeats our dreams. It's also a terrifically enjoyable novel.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In this comprehensive, often bland novel, Lodge (Small World) focuses on the extensive erotic experiences of celebrated British author H.G. Wells. As he states in his author’s note, every character and plot development is non-fiction, and Lodge makes extensive use of quotes from Wells’s personal correspondence. Unfortunately, the result reads more like a biography than a novel, with a plot that strictly adheres to the chronology of Wells’s life—from early boyhood to death. Many of the circumstances and details are salacious, from the protective sheaths which Wells uses to make his philandering possible, to his perennial interest in making love outdoors, to some big cats role-play with writer Rebecca West (he was her Panther, she his Jaguar), with some relevant quotes from their love letters—“I shall lay my paw on you this Wednesday night.” However, the womanizing becomes repetitive, with one too many frigid wives, and too many virgins in need of a sexual education from an older, more experienced lover, all resulting in a certain tedium best suited for readers who are already devotees of Wells or Lodge. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In Author, Author, acclaimed novelist/critic Lodge reimagined the meteoric rise and fall of the great Henry James. Here he performs the same task for the novelist best known for such popular tales as The War of the Worlds. Drawing deeply on H.G. Wells's autobiographical writings and on a wide array of secondary literature, Lodge draws a portrait of a novelist in his final years, reflecting on his powers spent and fame gained. The narrator's thoughts on Wells's mistresses are woven with Wells's own reflections on mortality, free love, politics, and writing. The novel plods along as Wells wonders whether the world will remember him, and the one-dimensional characters (the women, even Rebecca West, simply stand for sex and how much about sex Wells can teach them) elicit no deep feelings. In a mournfully didactic ending, the narrator declares that H.G. was like a comet that appeared suddenly and blazed in the literary firmament for decades before his imagination and intellect dwindled in brightness. VERDICT Lodge is a brilliant comic writer, but this dull and dreary novel about a now mostly forgotten writer is disappointing. It would be sad to think that, like his take on Wells, Lodge's imagination and intellect have dwindled in brightness. Still, most public libraries will want this book to satisfy his many fans. [See Prepub Alert, 3/28/11.]—Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143122098
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 11/27/2012
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 984,182
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Lodge is the author of twelve novels and a novella, including the Booker Prize finalists Small World and Nice Work. He is also the author of many works of literary criticism, including The Art of Fiction and Consciousness and the Novel.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    Not up to Lodge's best

    Despite the wit he has shown in previous books like Changing Places this long and monotonous tome defeats the author. H.G. Wells, his subject, lived a life that can be summarized in two words, one of them not printable on a public website such as this. As for his books, once you have established that he was the putative father of science fiction you've just about said it all. Except for the fact that his Utopian ideas for future progress resemble nothing so much as Fascism. A distasteful man's story told by a fine writer. I stopped reading about halfway, feeling trapped by the monotony of alternating love --if you can call it that--affairs and published works. I hope David Lodge lends his copious talents to a worthier subject next time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2012

    oh dear!

    I LOVE Mr. Lodge's other novels!! This was such a disappointment.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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