Author Essays, Interviews, and Excerpts, Books for the News, Commentary, Literature

Dance Dance (to the Music of Time) Revolution: Free Anthony Powell!

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If I were Cassandra and someone had asked me as an adolescent what noble passions would come to define the end of my twenties, I would have answered with certainty: the reading of encyclopedic novels, twentieth-century nostalgia, and the television series thirtysomething. And like C, I would have been doomed to disbelieve myself. I could have gone on and on about a world gone digital (now 3.0); electronic books; the decline and fall of James Frey and orange Crocs; FREE ELECTRONIC BOOKS; and the University of Chicago Press ebook release of all twelve volumes of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time series, beginning with our free December ebook (Volume 1!), A Question of Upbringing.
Here, Cassandra hits the trifecta. There are encyclopedic novels and then there is A Dance to the Music of Time, a series so macrocosmic in scope that it makes the legendary 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica seem a minor tome. There are the intersecting and changing lives and stories informed by minutiae and banal realities that inflect thirtysomething and then there is Dance. And there’s this minor epoch—the twentieth century. Pales in comparison to Dance.
We’re talking Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels, Time’s Best 100 Novels of the Twentieth Century, James Wolcott-endorsed, Terry Teachout-fanned, Ed Park-supported, monumentally hypnotic reading.
This is tremendously exciting stuff—the University of Chicago Press is releasing each book in the series electronically and the first volume is free not just on our own website, but on the Kindle, Nook, Borders, and Sony sites. In addition, we’re discounting the full Dance collection, with all books (both electronic and print versions) available at a 30% discount on our website (use the promo code DANCE30). Can you think of a more engrossing winter teaser? A more enviable New Year’s achievement? Your Dance-card is full.
Our own publicity manager Levi Stahl, reader and re-reader of Dance, has written many an eloquent ode to the series, including this hilariously prosaic post at Maud Newton’s site in imitation of Powell’s own idiom. He’s already pointedly hooked us with literary raconteur Jonathan Ames’s take:

Jeeves and I were reading together, as a sort of two-person book club, Anthony Powell’s epic, twelve-volume A Dance to the Music of Time. It’s absolutely a stupendous work—almost nothing of moment occurs for hundreds of page, thousands, even, and yet one reads on completely mesmerized. It’s like an imprint of life: nothing happens and yet everything happens.

Jonathan, are you out there someplace listening? Let’s do this together—you and I and Jeeves, some of us for the first time and some again and again: