Literature, Reviews

The Wall Street Journal dances to the music of time

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Few fictional works are as long, or as universally acclaimed, as Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. Originally published in twelve volumes over a thirty-year period, we republished them in 1995 in a lovely package of four books. Powell’s epic literary tale of twentieth-century London continues to enthrall readers. Cynthia Crossen has an appreciative review in today’s Wall Street Journal. From the review:

I have just finished the first two books in the 12-volume cycle, and I’m definitely going to read the rest. I’ve thrown in my lot, at least for the next few weeks, with Nicholas Jenkins, the narrator, and his well-born friends, lovers and enemies in England between 1914 and 1971.
Novels of manners are often dismissed as soap operas, aimed at women who cut their literary teeth on Jane Austen. Men don’t live in the parlor; they go to war, or at least to work. But Mr. Powell, from his own experience, knew that men indeed live in the parlor, like it or not, and spend agonizing amounts of time trying to make sense out of other people’s domestic behavior. Mr. Powell, wrote the English critic V. S. Pritchett, “revived the masculine traditions of English social comedy.”
What elevates soap opera to the level of literature are the intelligence, sensitivity and comic eye of the author, especially how deeply he or she penetrates human character. Appearances are important, too, and Mr Powell is a puckish observer of the human form. “His hands were small and gnarled, with nails worn short and cracked, as if he spent his spare time digging with them down in the soil. Stringham had said that the nails of the saint who had hollowed out his own grave without tools might fairly have competed against Widmerpool’s in a manicure contest.”

Click on the first search result on Google News to read the full review, or find out more about the books on our website:
A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement

A Dance to the Music of Time: Second Movement

A Dance to the Music of Time: Third Movement
A Dance to the Music of Time: Fourth Movement