REVIEW A Dance to the Music of Time First Movement 108

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A Dance to the Music of Time First Movement

READ Ç eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF È Anthony Powell

D failures These books provide an unsurpassed picture at once gay and melancholy of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars Arthur Schlesinger Jr The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz In the climactic final volume England has won the war and must now count the losses Four very different young men on the threshold of manhood dominate this opening volume of A Dance to the Music of Time The narrator Jenkins a budding writer shares a room with Templ 5 Strobing Foxtrot Stars on a Huge Dancefloor Go to this Roman FleuveI took much delight in this fascinating and woefully underappreciated roman fleuve a long seuence of novels together making up a single work particularly when reflecting upon it as a dance to the music of time in which partners disappear only to reappear once again once giving pattern to the spectacle A Dance to the Music of Time composed of four movements of three novels each takes place between 1921 through 1975 in England as the narrator Nicholas Jenkins progresses from his schooldays at Eton all the way through the free love late 1960s into the early 1970s Notably Powell attended Eton at a time when several other talented writers were there including Eric Blair aka George Orwell Cyril Connolly and Henry York Henry Green Jenkins is as much an observer as he is a participant and rarely the center of attention Instead he gives focus to the lives growth and aging of his closest three classmates and paints on a huge canvas his and their dance with thirty two other characters who join and leave and rejoin The seuence captures in a way I've not seen in any other work how time alters the players by introducing them then bringing them back at a later time and then takes them away again ultimately all of them some with violence and in war and some uietly and the reader this one at least is knelled by the impermanence of life and its permanence it goes on The primary trio includes the boorish and ambitious Kenneth Widmerpool one of the most memorable despicable characters drawn in any literature I've read the blue blooded and self destructive Charles Stringham and the self assured and worldly wise Peter Templer He brilliantly composes each of the thirty two supporting characters with such prismatic particulars that I can recall most of them now a year out from reading the cycle The primary beauty of the four movements is watching these characters waltz in with an ease that can only be imagined by a writer on his game pouring his soul into the worksThe novels are each relatively short a bit over 200 pages a few less and were published between 1951 and 1975 I am so glad I threw away my fear to plunge into the DanceThis work is hard to figure the best way to review It is 12 novels 4 movements and I fear giving too many details will scare some potential readers away I will supplement my review to address the separate works likely by the 4 movements individually

READ A Dance to the Music of Time First Movement

Er already a passionate womanizer and Stringham aristocratic and reckless Widermerpool as hopelessly awkward as he is intensely ambitious lurks on the periphery of their world Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s these four gain their initiations into sex society business and art Considered a masterpiece of modern fiction Powell's epic creates a rich panorama of life in England between the wars Includes these novels A uestion of Upbringing A Buyer's Market The Acceptance Worl A A Dance to the Music of Time may well be one of the great literary works about the everyday life of the upper class in England and those attempting to break into it or rise within its social ranks The writing is excellent of course but I rarely found myself transported by this work of meta fiction about social climbing and high society for example in the same way in which Proust does Powell is often considered an English Proust as the focus of the writing has to do with life and striving among the English upper crust However Proust strikes me as the far superior writer insofar as Proust is able to build a rhythm and cadence in the pure narrative beauty of his elegant syntax Powell seems to want us to be amused by rather silly even juvenile plot points and I found it difficult to become immersed in or even to like an epic cast of characters of sycophants and a pretentious landed gentry so rapt in petty materialism and social score keeping to extend beyond their own thin veneer of human artifice That is also part of Powell's message but it's a theme which becomes laborious and redundant and boorish in its interminable length Maybe it's because I'm American and am not compelled to engage in or to understand the complex nuances of the social class system of England For me life is too short to become further invested in reading another 2000 pages of movements I did very much appreciate Powell's uncommon use of the dance as a metaphor for life itself Powell sees life as a dance during which we move over time in a series of movements This idea intrigues me and the scenes of the novel often engage music and dance in the story line I also became sensitive to and appreciative of the transitions or specific movements as the characters navigated among each other and their society It is an important aspect of this novel to enable the reader to step back and view life this way The novel begs the uestion how well do you manage to navigate through the movements of your life over time in your business family and society Life can be measured in a sense by one's existential agility in moving attuned to the music of time The ethereal concept of recognizing the partnership of music and time also proved interesting insofar as the constructs of music entail so many existential ualities in measures stresses beats points counterpoints orchestration creativity individual talent volume scale instrumental ability discipline improvisation listening expression nuance subtlety and grace all of which accompany one's personal dance throughout a lifetime I became attuned to Powell's transitions among the many scenes he depicts and the vast number of characters who served as dance partners in the music of the narrative So this is definitely a great literary read and even if in my view Powell may fall short of Proust so what They're both great literary novelists not mutually exclusive and one can over a long life read both if one starts at a sufficiently early age on the task Given the choice I would recommend reading all of Proust first I'm glad I read this movement in time in order to become attuned to my own danse macabre

READ Ç eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF È Anthony Powell

Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four volume panorama of twentieth century London Hailed by Time as brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex society business and art In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries fashions and frivolities personal triumphs an I've been meaning for some time to post a review of Dance to the Music of Time which is pretty much my favorite book ever but it's hard to know where to start If you've read it you know it's a masterpiece and anything I say is irrelevant If you haven't read it I'm faced with the daunting task of persuading you that it's worth your time to get through it Not only is it 12 volumes long but everyone calls Powell the English Proust Why read some inferior Proust wannabe when you can get the real thingThe above notwithstanding if you are the kind of person who likes long novels you will probably find Dance an unforgettable trip irrespective of whether or not you have read Proust I have read both of them than once and although there are similarities there are also huge differences Let's start with the style Proust of course is famous for those incredibly long sentences but try as I will I can only bring myself to be half enthusiastic about them OK every now and then you are stunned by the syntactic elegance and perfect balance Rather often unfortunately it feels like a really impressive Jenga tower you are amazed that it can stand upright but everyone has to tiptoe around the room as long as the game is in progress Proust readers will all be familiar with the maddening phenomenon of being close to the end of a 500 word sentence when something interrupts your train of thought and you have to go back to the beginning losing 15 precious minutes that you will never see again In a perfect world the police would regularly check GoodReads and divert noisy traffic away from the Proust readers who'd asked for this service; even with Obama coming in it's not going to happen any time soon Powell's sentences are satisfyingly long and elegant but he doesn't go to the absurd lengths that Proust does and you can for example read them when small children are playing in the vicinityStill on style I hope will not offend the hard core Proust fans when I say that he's not usually that funny There are of course comic passages some of them very good I'm particularly thinking of the Duchesse de Guermantes and all her witty remarks But on the whole the tone is uite gloomy So when reading Proust not only do you have to make sure you're alert and not being distracted you also shouldn't be feeling too down One begins to see why it's significantly harder to reach the end of Le Temps Retrouvée than say the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Dance in contrast is basically a comic novel; it's amusing most of the time in a very dry understated English way that definitely grows on you as the story progresses and the author builds up and possibilities for complex irony based on the past histories of the characters If you're still thinking of it as basically like Proust you may have trouble believing me but I assure you that Powell can cheer you up when you are unhappy It's that differentMoving on to content another major difference is that Powell characters inhabit a world that recognizably has some connection to the one most of us inhabit In Proust no one has anything as mundane as a job and people spent most of their time attending fancy parties agonizing about whether they can arrange to be presented to members of the French nobility appreciating immortal works of art and getting laid at houses of ill repute I really liked Jessica's comment that SHE wanted to have that kind of life If only A lot of Powell's characters are from the English upper classes but they do mostly end up working for a living getting married having children and doing other things readers will find familiar You aren't constantly having to apply your internal cultural translator and figuring out what the thing Proust is talking about might correspond to in your own dull bourgeois existenceI'm sorry if this review has so far has a defensive tone but I've been saving the really good stuff for the end The thing that makes Dance brilliant rather than just very good is the character development which is simply uneualed in any other novel I have come across Usually when the novelist wants the reader to significantly change the way they see a character over the course of the book he has technical problems because he needs to fit it all into the three to five hundred pages he has at his disposal Hence all the tiresome foreshadowing that so often spoils the book and makes it seem so unlike real life I love Christina Ricci's comments about foreshadowing at the beginning of The Opposite of Sex Because Powell is working on such a huge canvas he can do without all that crap The first time you meet Stringham he is so funny charming and witty that just like the narrator you are completely bowled over He does perhaps seem a bit impulsive and irresponsible but that is all part of the charm Similarly Widmerpool first comes over as a complete idiot In retrospect one does wonder whether it really was so funny for Stringham to make a prank call that got his teacher arrested and you also see that the absurdly over earnest way in which Widmerpool sorts out the uarrel over the tennis match at the French pension pointed towards something But Powell's touch is so light that I never suspected anything at the time The next time you see them you are just a little surprised that Stringham seems to have become rather thoughtless but you ascribe that to the exhalted social circles he moves in; and when you see that Widmerpool has landed himself a better job than you expected you don't really pay much attention to it particularly after he once again manages to cover himself in ridicule by knocking over his employer's flower pots while reversing his car It's only when you've got many hundreds of pages into the series that it starts coming together Stringham is drinking far too much; it's not funny any at least not most of the time Widmerpool on the other hand suddenly has acuired some real power without you uite being able to see how it happened This is exactly how you experience it in real life Some of the people you worshiped when you were a teenager have turned out to be hopeless failures; others whom you laughed at have somehow become very successful You can't uite reconcile the two views some of the time you accept them at their new value and some of the time they still seem like morons Powell succeeds perfectly in presenting all these contradictions without ever seeming even to work up a sweat It just flows naturally from the narrativeWell I probably still haven't managed to convince you to read Dance But think about it

  • Paperback
  • 725
  • A Dance to the Music of Time First Movement
  • Anthony Powell
  • English
  • 14 September 2018
  • 9780749323998

About the Author: Anthony Powell

Anthony Dymoke Powell CH CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve volume work A Dance to the Music of Time published between 1951 and 1975Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations In 2008 The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of The 50 greatest British writers since 1945