Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Man of Parts - David Lodge


I have developed a liking for Lodge's fiction over the last decade.  The British Museum is Falling Down is one of those novels that is somehow forever with you; the university novels are uniformly amusing.  Being a H G Wells buff, I couldn't wait to get this book home.  I wish I had.

It is not a bad book.  It is some way from being a good book and - hard as it is to believe it when it's a biographical novel about someone so active, in all senses, as Wells - it is dull, dull, dull.

When Lodge realises his text is tending towards the industrial and/or superficial, he introduces an imaginary interlocutor who interviews Well about his actions and emotions.  This is a cracking idea and does renew interest for a while.  But everything else is so thoroughly quotidian...  Wells had an olympic sex life but do we ever learn anything about emotion or sensation while he's at it?  Wells was involved with all the great writers of his age - Henry James, Conrad, Shaw, Bennett - but on this account they were even duller than he was.

The experience of reading this book won't put me off Lodge's work - it was a mistake, David, please don't repeat it - and it has certainly had one of the desired effects on me.  It's sent me off in search of more Wells books - and something by Rebecca West, who was definitely more interesting that the talented but demanding flibbertigibbet depicted here.

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