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A Man of Parts

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  565 ratings  ·  121 reviews
'The mind is a time machine that travels backwards in memory and forwards in prophecy, but he has done with prophecy now...'

Sequestered in his blitz-battered Regent's Park house in 1944, the ailing Herbert George Wells, 'H.G.' to his family and friends, looks back on a life crowded with incident, books, and women. Has it been a success or a failure? Once he was the most fa
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published March 31st 2011 by Harvill Secker (first published 2011)
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Nov 19, 2014 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any Slut who wants to read of a kindred spirit
Recommended to Mark by: Bookclub
H G Wells you are a slut, an excellent writer but an unadulterated slut....though perhaps any conjunction of the prefix un and any word in the slightest bit similar to adultery is not appropriate as far as you are concerned.

The book is a fascinating read and Lodge has written a really clever dissection of the man's talent and lifestyle and uses the device of Wells arguing with himself over his behaviour and the highs and lows of his literary output to move the story into a different dimension.

H.G. Wells is described as a comet that arrived out of obscurity in the late 19th century, blazed over the literary firmament for the next few decades and then faded away, perhaps to return sometime in the future.

A brilliant futurist who foresaw events like the World Wars (he saw only one, occurring in the 1950’s), World Government (the United Nations and its predecessor, the League of Nations), the birth of Socialism, and air power that would globalize warfare. Born to humble origins, he became
man of many parts and many conquests
“A Man of Parts” is a big, nervy book of more than 550 pages devoted to H. G. Wells, a writer not too much remembered in America except for his two Saturday afternoon entertainments “War of the Worlds” and “Time Machine.” Nervy because David Lodge’s decision to devote a big chunk of his own life researching and writing about Wells was risky. Very risky. Would his subject be compelling enough to attract sufficient interest to make the effort worthwhile? The ans
[3.5 really, but I'm in a generous mood, so I'm rounding up today]

It was David Lodge who observed that 'literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children and real life is the other way around'. If Lodge is to believed, HG Wells' life had more than it's fair share of both.

Being only dimly familiar with Wells' work (I read 'The Time Machine' when I was about 12, and like many others, was introduced to The War of The Worlds via Jeff Wayne's musical, which my Dad had on a C90
Lorri Steinbacher
This book did not read like a novel and that was not necessarily a good thing. I feel like I learned a lot about things I did not know and introduced me to another side of H.G. Wells, but it was not very compelling and I had to pep talk my way through it. I came away feeling that for all Wells' talk about sexual liberation for women that it was all lip service because the second that the "liberation" became troublesome for him or threatened to disturb his comfortable status quo, he encouraged th ...more
Carl Rollyson
H. G. Wells (1866–1946) is one of those protean modern writers who are destined to last, no matter how critics lament his slapdash prose or deplore his involvement in dubious movements such as eugenics and Fabian socialism. Not even the ire of feminists can ultimately bring down this “womanizing” colossus of concepts and causes and books (he penned more than a hundred of them), not to mention the biographies and critical studies that continue to pullulate around this seminal figure.

Wells was tru
Fairly lengthy book but a rewarding read. David Lodge has cleverly and thoroughly presented his 'interview' with H G Wells amongst a narrative thread of Well's entire life.

At times I felt like I was going through the same cycles of events but this is because Wells was not only a prolific writer but also a lover of women - many women at that. The descriptions of each of his novels as he writes them are usually twined with his latest liaison or love affair. He practised free love during a long se
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
What I love about historical fiction is that the past is given color and brought to life in a way that feels real, that invites me to see myself and my own life in the actions and events of the characters -- or, forces me to examine my own assumptions and biases (more on that later).

This was my first David Lodge novel so I didn't know what to expect; I've long wanted to read his take on Henry James but haven't gotten to it (someday, someday). This novel, centered on H.G. Wells, covers my favorit
Well, it was interesting - this second biography I've read, and it seems it establishes a pattern of how Lodge thinks a biography should be written.
First of all, the idea around which the main character is built: in Author! Author! it was the secret ambition of Henry James to become a famous playwright; here, - the women who defined different parts of Wells.
The narrative construction is also similar: both books begin and end with the last moments of the writers.
We can add the creation of an im
Andrew McClarnon
I was looking forward to reading this having enjoyed 'Author Author' (and indeed all the other David Lodge books I've read in the past), and having had a teenage fondness for HG Wells's science fiction stories.

The book was like a great big, cosy sofa of a read, a bit overstuffed in parts, but somewhere to settle down and put your feet up. Yes there were a few moments of ennui, after all this was a long life with a certain repetative theme, but the writing was direct, well paced and painted in th
Marcus Speh
picked this up a few days ago and been reading it ever since. starts a little slowly but my reading is helped along by the fascination for the subject matter of this book, the writer h g wells. the novel is an odd mixture, attractive to me, of literary criticism, memoir and story. in many places i found the wit that i so love about lodge's writing. enjoying this. will continue/finish review when i'm done.
There is a huge relief in having finished this. For a week and a half (with two books and a hundred pages of short stories in between) I slogged it out with Lodge, trying to figure out what his intention was, whether he had a central thesis in his meandering account of H.G. Wells' life. Turns out he didn't. This novel is actually a fairly straightforward and dry biography of Wells given some of the trimmings of a novel.

Wells basically writes books of varying success and feasibility, while entert
Jean-marc Depreux
Yes I can say that I really liked "A Man of Parts", it was the first time that I read a book by David Lodge and although it doesn't quite situate itself as a novel, it reads much easier than a real biography. There seems to be a new trend these days for writers to write biographies in a novelistic manner, like Jéromine Pasteur with her new book "Les Femmes Oiseaux", I think this is a good thing as it's an easier way of learning about things or people. But to get back to David Lodge's achievement ...more
False Millennium
The only reason I starred this as "liked" was because it was well researched and well written. I wish he had called it "A Man Controlled by His Lust," or "A Man and His Penis," or "Man and Superpenis," or....well, you get the drift. What a cad. And what a ragtag of women trailing behind him and his sperm comet. Took advantage? Yes. Sometimes of innoncence, sometimes mutual. One thing I noted that I didn't know. He carried out some of his seductions on a Square I used to live in London. I'm not e ...more
Bookkaholic Magazine
(See our full review over at Bookkaholic.) A thorough fictional biography of H.G. Wells (1886 to 1946). Wells had contact with the late Victorians (such as Thomas Huxley, who taught him the sciences), lived through both World Wars (even anticipating some of the technological innovations thereof), and saw many developments such as the women’s movement and socialism. The number and variety of his sexual conquests makes for a gossipy, confessional narrative.
Very interesting book, I had never really read a book before that is a kind of biography but written in the style of a novel. Not only did I find it very nice to read, but I also found it really interesting to learn more about the life of a once prominent writer in English literature, in this 'playful' way. I admit I would have never really thought about finding out more about H.G. Wells' life otherwise, but reading David Lodge's book sure made it look like an interesting life, and inspired me t ...more
Penelope Irving
I'm a huge fan of some of David Lodge's work, but he's tried a lot of different fictional formats in his career, and not all of them appeal to me as much as others. I couldn't get through his semi-fictionalised biography of Henry James (an author whose work is, anyway, the antithesis of everything I enjoy in novels), and this is another one, about H.G. Wells.

I admit I might have given up on this one too if I hadn't been listening to it in audio book format, but I persisted through the first fai
An enjoyable book, if a bit long. Suffers from not quite distinguishing between autobiography and fiction; a good read at times, at others like reading a student thesis on H G |Wells. He (Wells) emerges, for me, as a thoroughly unpleasant piece of work - if he was a feminist, God help women!.....he seems only to have been interested in getting his end away, cloaked as a belief in 'Free Love' blokes know better....
Silvio Curtis
A novel about H. G. Wells' sex life. He sometimes claims his ideal is uncomplicated pleasure, but what gets most page space are attempts at a sort of polyamory, sentimental enough to be plenty complicated, but the complications are entirely self-generated and generally don't threaten to be disastrous to anybody. Those parts were some of the most boring stuff I've read in years. For a hundred and fifty pages or so Wells is part of the Fabian Society, an extremely non-revolutionary socialist group ...more
De Britse auteur H.G. Wells was bij mij alleen bekend als de schrijver van ‘War of the Worlds’, dat ik alleen kende als een radiospel met een grote impact. De biofictieve roman ‘A man of parts’ van David Lodge geeft een smeuige omvangrijke beschrijving van Wells’ leven. Lodge concentreert zich vooral op het complexe liefdesleven, zijn literaire werk en de vooruitziende blik van de auteur. Lodge lijkt een bewonderaar te zijn, hij wekt de suggestie dat Wells de atoombom en het internet heeft bedac ...more
Despre Lodge în ipostaza de biograf s-a mai vorbit cu prilejul romanului Autorul, la rampă!, bazat pe viaţa lui Henry James şi drama din jurul primei repezentaţii-eşec a piesei Guy Domville. De data asta, Lodge scrie un roman care arată, de multe ori, ca o amplă lucrare de non-ficţiune extrem de bine documentată despre tumultuoasa viaţă a lui H.G. Wells şi în care, după cum afirmă autorul, sumedenia detaliilor contextuale inventate sunt doar cele pe care „istoria a omis să le precizeze”.

În primă
A rather interesting David Lodge book, a tad over-long but very readable. I normally feel unsure about novelised biographies but I found this easy to accept as an imagined version of HG Wells based on a fair amount of research. But I don't think any of the characters in this book come out as likeable characters.

The main themes do get very repetative at points. Interestingly Lodge doesn't have any embarrassment writing the sex scenes but they aren't particularly good! I mostly enjoyed this for th
Chuck Erion
David Lodge’s fictional biography of H.G.Wells, and Anne Enright’s latest novel The Forgotten Waltz, both published in May, share a theme: the emotional politics of marital affairs. A Man of Parts (Random House UK, $34.95) is a 560-page life of HG, the self-made novelist, social reformer, and Free Love advocate. David Lodge is a British novelist with some 14 novels to his credit, many of them parodies of the academic life. He also has penned ten works of essays and literary criticism, but A Man ...more
This is my first David Lodge, had an inkling I would like his books! He explores the life of HG Wells, but the focus is on Wells' relationships with women, his politics, and a little of his writing life. This is the way to do biography! For me, it's so much more interesting to read Wells' life as a novel (I wouldn't even bother to read about his life otherwise). However, something about Lodge's prose puts me to sleep--I could never read more than ten pages a night before I'd inevitably nod off. ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
A Man of Parts is a fictional biography of author H.G. Wells. I did not go into this book knowing anything about H.G. Wells, except for his having written quite a few novels and his being one of the founders of the genre of science fiction. Given that, I cannot assert with complete assurance that the events related in Lodge's book are all faithful representations of the author's life, but I suspect they are. The extensive acknowledgements certainly suggest that Lodge did his research before writ ...more
My favorite novels by David Lodge combine the comedy and suffering that ambitions, greed and life in general surprise people with in telling and entertaining ways. Books like Nice Work, Small World and Deaf Sentence are quick and entertaining reads that leave you with very memorable characters that experienced situations that cut a little too close to home. In A Man of Parts, like his novel about Henry James, Author, Author, Lodge fictionalizes the life of seminal novelist whose work straddled d ...more
Marya DeVoto
I'm going to continue skimming to the end of this after the first couple of hundred pages because my interest in the gossipy subject matter (H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, the Fabians, E. Nesbit, etc.) is very high, but I have the same reservations about this that I did about Julian Barnes' novel Arthur and George a few years back: it seems unforgivably lax to include so much undigested history in a novel. I want to be able to trust whether a detail or incident is in a novel because the author found ...more
Lodge, David. A MAN OF PARTS. (2011). ****.
In his latest novel, Lodge again takes a close look at one of the literary icons of England around the turn of the century – H. G. Wells. He uses a variety of stylish techniques to get the story across; most of which work very well. He has also managed to do his research very well, using letters, novels, and articles by and from Wells to make this novel read more like a biography than fiction in many parts. He is honest about where he inserts his inven
Robert Ronsson
So here, in this novel about HG Wells, we are on the fringes of 'creative non-fiction'. I say fringes because this 'novel' adheres so closely to biography that there is not much 'creation' going on. Where in conventional biography the writer says 'we can assume how the conversation went' or 'it can be imagined what the response would have been', David Lodge dispenses with these phrases and merely writes in the assumption or the imagined consequence as 'fact'.
This is not to say it doesn't work. T
Professor David Lodge is a graduate and Honorary Fellow of University College London. He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, where he taught from 1960 until 1987, when he retired to write full-time.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, was Chairman of the Judges for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989, and is the author of numerous works of literary criticism, mainly about the English and American novel, and literary theory. He is also
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Professor David Lodge is a graduate and Honorary Fellow of University College London. He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, where he taught from 1960 until 1987, when he retired to write full-time.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, was Chairman of the Judges for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989, and is the author of numerous works of li
More about David Lodge...
Changing Places Small World Nice Work Therapy Deaf Sentence

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“We’re a bundle of incompatible parts, and we make up stories about ourselves to disguise the fact. The mental unity of the individual is a fiction. There is simply, in the human machine, a multitude of loosely linked behaviour systems which take control of the body and participate in a common delusion of being one single self” 2 likes
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