Laura's Reviews > A Man of Parts

A Man of Parts by David Lodge
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's review
May 07, 2012

liked it

I am a big fan of David Lodge, I think I have read all of his fiction and some of his books of literary criticism. I do buy all of his new titles in paperback. Since he retired from teaching in HE, he seems to go for a kind of literary biography and I suspect this book came out of his research for "Author, Author".
H.G.Wells makes a more interesting subject than poor old Henry James. As it happens, I have never read any of his books and knew nothing of his life, so the book had lots of surprises and came as a proper "novel" for me. I can see that this author would have a special appeal for David Lodge, who is fascinated by the experience of sex in intellectual environments, and comes, like H.G.Wells, from a working-class background. Still, often, authors make a bit too much of their chosen topic and in this case Lodge laid it on thick when praising Well's visions of atomic bombs, Child Benefit and the Internet. It was sweet to think that Wells reflected long enough on the role of mothers in society to come to the possibility of actually paying them to look after their children, so they could have a measure of financial independence from their husbands. This man should be commented on fondly on Coffee Mornings everywhere!
The intrigues of the Fabians was another amusing area, if slightly depressing. Sad to think that such honourable intellectuals wasted their time on so many minor abstract disagreements. Or perhaps in that they were more like actual politicians than they realised themselves. A couple of weeks ago I was in London for an AL conference for the OU, and it was held in the New Academic Building in LSE. Walking up the Strand from Charing Cross was oddly exciting on that rainy Saturday morning.
Like Philip Roth or Julian Barnes, Lodge is coming to a time in his career when he dwells on old age and death, but A Man of Parts was a lot more cheerful than Deaf Sentence, which I interpreted at the time as a tribute to his father.

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Laura The story about Edith Nesbit and her family made me realise she must have been the basis for the central characters in The Children's Book by A.S.Byatt.

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