A Man of Parts (Anglais) Broché – 12 janvier 2012
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Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
"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)
Présentation de l'éditeur
A MAN OF CONTRADICTIONS.
A MAN OF PASSION.
A MAN OF THE FUTURE.
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. Charting his unpromising start as a draper's assistant to his rapid rise to fame as a writer with a prophetic imagination, his immersion in socialist politics and his belief in and practice of free love, A Man of Parts is an astonishing novel of passion, ambition and controversy.
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All these questions appear equivalent to squaring the circle…
Nevertheless, they appear in all Lodge’s books, all the more troubling for the hero when questions of religion are added into the bargain (which is not the case here). Some of his answers appear as well: for him, occasional lapses in marital life are not very important, and can even be very useful when releasing some tensions or fulfilling sexual desires which cannot be met within the couple.Lire la suite ›
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Nervy in a way because David Lodge's decision to devote a big chunk of his own life researching and writing about Wells was risky. Would his subject be compelling enough to attract sufficient interest to make the effort worthwhile? The answer is, well sort of.
Wells (1866-1946) lived a long, productive life and it comes as pretty much a surprise that as well as being a writer of a hundred-odd books of fiction and nonfiction, the man was a sex machine, a fin de siècle man of many conquests.
Lodge describes Wells as not particularly attractive. Late in life Wells humorously portrays himself in an "auto-obituary" as a "bent, shabby, slovenly and latterly somewhat obese figure." Still, he was as successful in his conquests as a rooster in a henhouse.
Married twice, Wells was a socialist who believed in, was an activist for and practiced free love (ardently and often and with a score or more of women who were married, single, young and not so young, including birth control advocate Margaret Sanger).
Lodge suggests that one of the reasons for Wells' appeal was, strangely, his scent. His longtime lover the writer Rebecca West, nearly 30 years his junior, said he gave off the aroma of English walnuts, and another of his dalliances, the novelist Elizabeth von Arnim, said he exuded the smell of honey. Whatever the reason for his allure, throughout his life when he approached a potential conquest he was usually eagerly received.
I don't know how best to describe the book. It's either a fictionalized biography or a novel that passes itself off as something very true to life. In a front page, Lodge says the truth is "elastic" and nearly everything he writes about Wells is "inferable from" or "consistent with."
The book begins and ends in 1944 at the end of Wells' life when in his late 70s he's ill and in a mood to defend his reputation and define a legacy by talking about his life and works. Between those bookends, Lodge tells his subject's story in flashback.
Wells was not born to privilege. But his origins weren't like something from Dickens either. His father was a shopkeeper and his mother worked as a servant to the more prosperous. He struggled to get an education, worked as a teacher and apprenticed as a draper. He began writing while young and relatively quickly found a following. Money and prosperity followed soon after.
West summed up Well's life this way: "HG was like a comet. He appeared suddenly out of obscurity at the end of the 19th century and blazed in the literary firmament for decades, evoking astonishment and awe and alarm, like the comet of `In the Days of the Comet' which threatened to destroy the earth, but in fact transformed it by the beneficial effect of its gaseous tail."
Wells said of himself, "I want to change the world not just describe it." Whether he succeeded is open to debate. Lodge's life of Wells is long and although the book is interesting I wanted it to be something more, engaging enough to hold my interest page after page and affair after affair. For me it didn't quite measure up.
The book left me with an enduring picture of the values, customs, and concerns of the times, even as these values changed greatly during H.G. Wells' lifetime and changed even more in the 60+ years since his death. One example is the depiction of the sometimes over-serious Fabians. This march of years helps the reader to place oneself in time. Of course, the main focus of "A Man of Parts" is Wells' relations with women and the often farcical results of his pursuits. Lodge's "anonymous interviewer" technique is used now and then to take H.G. to task and try to get him to 'fess up to the motivations behind his behavior with his numerous, not always serial romances. But H.G. is irrepressible and clings to his dignity and somewhat inflated self image, even in the face of contradictions, even in the face of his impending death. A fun read by a writer who is a keen, non-judgemental observer who, even with a nod to absurdity, extends sympathy to his characters. (Book purchased through Amazon!)
Fortunately the reading is light, so it isn't too difficult to make it through the 500+ pages.
Lodge uses his skills to good effect in a "fictionalized" biography (I suppose you could call it a novel of sorts)recreating Wells life. He manages to capture the contradictory nature of a man born in poverty who rose to respect and wealth also defying the restrictions of post-Victorian society having numerous affairs, fathering children out of wedlock. For all of Wells' beliefs about class and its impact in our society, he still believed and often treated women as second class citizens making him both a man of and outside of his time.
Although isn't necessary to have read Wells' books to appreciate this novel it does help to have more than a passing interest in them. George Bernard Shaw once wrote to Wells during a feud over Wells' affairs and the consequences that resulted something very true and which perfectly captures Wells as a person pointing out that while Wells was an expert in the "art of private life" he had not mastered the art of "public life" and recognizing the consequences of his actions.
Lodge's novel is, indeed, a massive book (over 500 pages) but is appropriate for such an influential "character" of the time.
Lodge perfectly captures the essence of the talented, contradictory writer in a novel using his skills as a biographer to excellent effect. Wells had a large hand in shaping the literature of the early 20th century. His "fictionalized" telling of Wells life is witty and insightful; Lodge nicely captures the flavor of the age and Wells role in the public and his private life within the context of the time.