archive - issue 14

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  • /

    By Ruth Barker
    On the QWERTY layout of my computer keyboard, the symbol / appears beside the questioning symbol ?. They are represented together on the same key, and
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  • Apartment / Containers

    By Vincent Bezuidenhout
    These diptychs are the start of a series of images I have been working on regarding the visual landscape we choose to surround ourselves
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  • I returned home after my first year in college to discover my younger sister had turned gorgeous. This was a disappointment, but not an
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  • Butterfly

    By Adriana de Barros
    The pupa, a silk wrap of emotionsIsolated, within breathing, wanting to bethe intense pronoun of selfIt is silly to be one's own pronounShe giggles
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  • Collage

    By Claudio Parentela
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  • Drag and Snap

    By Leigh-Anne Niehaus
    This series is inspired by the childhood game of "snapdragon", which allows for simplistic and delightful decision-making through random selections of colour and number.
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  • Evidence of Life

    By Tamlyn Martin
    Below is an extract from a series of 11 poems created in parallel with visual artworks. 5. Memories laced with visceral realityFlooding herThe gentle
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  • Forward! Slash!

    By Travis Lyle
    You think you're a forward-thinking kinda person, do you? Lemme be the one to break it to you, sunshine – you're as lame as the
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  • Human/Nature

    By Lydia Anne McCarthy
    This series explores moments between nature and human beings that are at once idealistic and unsettling. Each picture is an independent narrative, but placed
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  • Immigrants

    By Stanley Onjezani Kenani
    you want to livenothing leaveto liveyou swimor like fresh sardinesyou are packedin boatsyou leaveto live.  you leavegold in the belly of Africaoil in
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  • In Between

    By Tania van Schalkwyk
    Raised in an Arabian land of heat, fire and temper,sometimes the calm of England clamps downlike damp in a bathroom with no windowand a
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  • Letter to the Editor

    By Elan Gamaker
    Dear Sir/Madam I should like strenuously to object to the subject matter ("/") of your current issue. It must first be mentioned, however, that it
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  • Or: a line drawing

    By Gabeba Baderoon
    Pencil and nothing. Her face turned almost entirely away. Forehead, cheekbone,jaw,the bun low in her neck,shoulderand down,the long linejust enoughthen left alone.
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  • p u n c t u a t i o n

    By Ula Einstein
    Einstein works with a diverse range of media, including drawings and installation with fire, thread, and blades. The series of drawings and installations with
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    By Sean Hampton-Cole
    Keys. John speaking. 'Lo?Good morning. May I speak to Bob Mitchell please?Bob in Bonds?I'm not really sure. I'm trying to...You want extension 125. This
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  • Pretty Babies

    By Peregrine Honig
    With the premise that "/ " presents what is IN and what is OUT, the "Pretty Babies" series explores the fashion industry's well-published and syndicated DOs
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  • River Bank

    By Mario Sughi
    The symbol / is intended initially as a symbol of division. A real or unreal line divides the girl from the water, the girl from
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  • Scissor

    By Charlotte Gait
    There was a time when you and I were connected by iron, acid, vitamin and blood. Where every mouthful I took was with the
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  • Seasaw

    By Sol Kjøk
    Here, the motif is conceived of as a seesaw (the typo in the title is intended, as this drawing is part of a series
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  • Series Seven Up

    By Noel Fignier
    Text by João Branco Kyron, HipnóticaThe collision is imminent and in the fraction of time left, the eyes shut and the vision is superbly
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  • A battle over samoosas between the snobbish Cinderella and a homeless electrician is mediated by Cinderella's boyfriend JJ. The samoosa battle is conflated with
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  • Wayne Porter, freelance journalist, donned his anthropologist's birthday suit and hit the bowling alley. Bar the bowlers hat tipped gently off centre, the man
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  • The Incised Wound

    By Joanne Hichens
    "Please, for me, Dave," I placed my hand on his, and really, no begging, just asked him nicely, "Lay off the booze tonight." Whether
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  • He had been driving for hours through that unstable, somnambulist night when he fell asleep at the wheel. He awoke with a start and
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  • The space between.

    By Mehita Iqani
    It's a handy little line, the one that we use to make our options known. Either/Or. Paper and ink or binary code? Its clichéd,
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  • Un Hombre Fuerte

    By Tamo Vonarim Written these words are, at times of a subconscious flow – whether they are mine, I don't know. All I know is that I
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  • Unbroken Awareness

    My life is now a floating shellI am a vessel on that river.The storm, the ship, the sea,Whose shores we lost in crossing.  I
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  • Untitled

    By Wilhelm Saayman
    This series of images, made using pen and ink, photographs and Photoshop, explore alternate/dream realities.
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  • Untitled

    By Aryan Kaganof
    /At R550 rand I thought I'd rather die/ My mother: can I trust this woman?/ I thought the Romans were coming, dinkum/ …and always
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Saturday, 03 September 2011 02:00

A Man of Parts

By  Karina Magdalena Szczurek
David Lodge is one of the few safe bets in the literary market. If you like his work the first time around, you like it forever. He does not disappoint. At least that is how I feel every time I open a new Lodge novel. A Man of Parts was no different.

Set in the few decades around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes and misfortunes of the visionary, über-prolific author, H.G. Wells, who is mostly remembered for his early novels, today's world-literature classics, such as The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), or The War of the Worlds (1898). Even if some of us have not read the novels, we all know the movies and their multiple remakes. There is no doubt that Wells' stories have stood the test of time.

The fame of his novels overshadowed his other achievements, such as the remarkable The Outline of History (1919), which "ran to three-quarters of a million words, mostly his own." He not only wrote the book in just two years, but sold over two million copies of it in the years immediately after publication! His own life-story will be even less familiar to today's public, but is equally fascinating. David Lodge has packed it into a structurally intriguing novel, which according to the Acknowledgments is very closely based on Wells' life, and often reads more like a biography than a work of fiction.

A Man of Parts opens when H.G., as Herbert George Wells was known to family and friends, decides to take stock of his life shortly before his death in the war-ravaged London of 1944. Famous for his fictitious predictions of the future, he now faces his own past, private and public. By raking his memory, rereading his notes and novels, and interrogating himself in numerous self-reflective interviews, Wells goes over the details of his stellar literary career, his conflicted involvement with the Fabian Society, as well as his adventurous love life. Married twice - under the circumstances only twice - Wells became infamous for his more or less open practice of free love. He had countless affairs with women who became famous in their own right, such as the secret agent, Baroness Moura Budberg or the writers Rebecca West and Amber Reeves. With the latter he also had children.

The individual stories are set against the broader developments in England of the time, with the two world wars featuring prominently, and are interspersed with fragments of literary criticism, excerpts of Well's own writing, and real or imagined letters. The chronology is disrupted by many flashbacks and some foreshadowing, often giving the novel a disjointed feel. Occasionally, it becomes too much and A Man of Parts reads like a novel of many parts, as if some of these passages were notes towards a novel and not the final version of the narrative.

But even though I sometimes found myself wondering why we need to read about yet another of Aigee's conquests (as Moura referred to Wells), in the end the novel is so full of other indispensable material, and remarkable wit and humour that one easily forgives the few narratorial foibles. As H.G. tells himself: "We're a bundle of incompatible parts, and we make up stories about ourselves to disguise the fact."

A Man of Parts is a rich and entertaining portrait of one of the literary greats of the past century and a timely re-introduction to his fascinating oeuvre. "Perhaps one day he will glow in the firmament once again", it says in the novel. He does - in Lodge's latest.

A Man of Parts by David Lodge
Harvill Secker, 2011
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