- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; 1 edition (20 April 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141441070
- ISBN-13: 978-0141441078
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 200 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
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History Of Mr Polly, The Paperback – 20 Apr 2005
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About the Author
Wells, who rose from obscurity to world fame, had an emotionally and intellectually turbulent life. His prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction such as The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The War of the Worlds (1898). Later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress, whose anticipations of a future world state include The Shape of Things to Come (1933). His controversial views on sexual equality and women's rights were expressed in the novels Ann Veronica (1909) and The New Machiavelli (1911). He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, 'an important liberator of thought and action'.
Wells drew on his own early struggles in many of his best novels, including Love and Mr Lewisham (1900), Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909) and The
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2 customer reviews
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This is a story about a discontented shopkeeper; an Englishman of middle age, middle class, a dreamer with untenable ideals who is letting life just happen to him. However, he finds a way to alter his humdrum existence. This is where the fun begins.
The atmosphere was like that of a Dickens novel, but some of the downbeat sections reminded me of Mr Nabokov. Certainly an appealing blend.
I really enjoyed the fact that the author invented words for this work and his clever use of malapropisms – as a character trait for the protagonist – served all the better with regards to the comical aspect.
I hadn't read any literature by Mr Wells for at least twenty years and I had forgotten what a master he is. His descriptions are some of the best. The way he brings the English countryside to life is wonderful. An excerpt from his text:
"Mr Polly sat beside the fat woman at one of the little green tables at the back of the Potwell Inn, and struggled with the mystery of life. It was one of those evenings, serenely luminous, amply and atmospherically still, when the river bend was at its best. A swan floated against the dark masses of the further bank, the stream flowed broad and shining to its destiny, with scarce a ripple – except where the reeds came out from the headland, and the three poplars rose clear and harmonious against the sky of green and yellow."
This novel is actually a social commentary, which is as far afield from what the author is actually known for, that of science fiction. Because of that, for me, this book is all the more brilliant than it already was.
I found it a quick and easy read.
Beware, you will need to have some relative understanding of the time period the action takes place (1903). But it is certainly worth the effort.
Sergiu Pobereznic (author)
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The protagonist is more interested in chatting with anyone that will listen, than in doing any work. You would think there would be little to recommend a book featuring a no-talent irresponsible lad like Alfred Polly – but here Wells has crafted a quirky character fond of coining unique words to describe people and happenings. He shows an interesting point of view. He could even be called selfish (at first, anyway). He is nearly unemployable, but has a real talent for imaginatively decorating shop windows. When his father dies suddenly, all his decisions seem made by others. Eventually he finds himself married and a shop owner. But things are not going well for him.
Late in the story, Mr. Polly’s failed suicide somehow results in him heroically rescuing his neighbor’s deaf mother-in-law (how, and why, if for the reader to discover). But at this point he begins roaming, and this leads to walking much more (and getting healthier), enjoying sunrises, and deeper thinking. He winds up in a town called Potwell, doing all kinds of jobs for a woman who runs an inn. She was “his sort”. What a transformation in his character – now he throws himself into working for her. Later, he has a fight-or-flight decision to make – whether to protect her or to run away. In the end, Mr. Polly decides to go back home (briefly) to see how his wife fared after he abandoned her – brace yourself for more surprises.
The kindle? Well, it was worth the $80 to find this out, but neither of us turn out to be e-book people. We'll stick with the mashed-up trees and long as they survive. However, the kindle is great for traveling, particularly on a plane. We'll read free kindle books on the road and buy real paper books to read at home. The quality of free kindle books turns out to be spotty. I didn't find anything wrong with this one, but others have been poor. For example, in "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There", all the poems are completely missing.
Alfred Polly, the subject of this fine comic novel, is an average middle-class Englishman with an average education that never really caught on, a penchant for high-sounding expressions that he hilariously mispronounces or makes up ("the Shoveacious Cult" for "sunny young men of an abounding and elbowing energy,” is one of them), and great curiosity about life but little ambition for it. In other words, he is a man with a badly muddled sense of reality who, sick of the life that he leads, burns down the outfitter’s shop that he has come to hate, gives his wife half of the insurance money, and disappears, exchanging his “acceptable” life as a shopkeeper for that of a wanderer.
Mr. Polly is a classic antihero, the kind of person who just never fits in, lives on the fringes, yet is relatively happy once he ditches the life he hates and moves on, a wanderer. As he muses toward the end of the book, he says ”One seems to start in life expecting something. And it doesn't happen. And it doesn't matter. One starts with ideas that things are good and things are bad – and it hasn't much relation to what is good and what is bad. . . . There's something that doesn't mind us. It isn't what we try to get that we get, it isn't the good we think we do is good. What makes us happy isn't our trying, what makes others happy isn't our trying. There's a sort of character people like and stand up for and a sort they won't. You got to work at it and take the consequences.” First published in 1910, it is a story that lives on.