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 and 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, Jenkinsa budding writer shares a room with Templer, 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 Question of Upbringing, A Buyer's Market, The Acceptance World.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Anthony Powell's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Charles McGrath about the life and work of Anthony Powell – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.
This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1951 Anthony Powell (P)2010 Audible, inc.
"Anthony Powell is the best living English novelist by far. His admirers are addicts, let us face it, held in thrall by a magician." (Chicago Tribune)
"A book which creates a world and explores it in depth, which ponders changing relationships and values, which creates brilliantly living and diverse characters and then watches them grow and change in their milieu. . . . Powell's world is as large and as complex as Proust's." (New York Times)
"Vance's narration captivates listeners throughout this outstanding examination of a life in progress." (AudioFile)
Oy. Two facts emerge as, upon reflection, very telling about this "novel". #1: After three degrees in English, I had never heard of this author or novel series, until when searching for a new Simon Vance narration, I stumbled upon this new release. #2: When doing a superficial search before purchase, wikipedia spit up an entry on the longest (ie: wordiest) works of literature in the history of the written word. Ugh. I like long, rambling narrations as much as (MORE) than the next person, but this one lacks warmth, substance, humor (though the author tries to be funny), and plot. I'm midway through book two (of 3) of the first "movement" (of 12!), and honestly, even Vance's truly incredible narration can't make me continue. Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull. (get it?) Dull Dull Dull Dull.......Though the phrase in the novel: "earmarking duchesses" is awesome - described as (in my words) the hungry look of someone scanning a room (at a dinner party for ex) for important people who can be of use.
Great stories, smashing first chapter. Although coloured by the line which may be the author's philosophy: life is lived at the surface (i.e superficially).
Please do listen!
"Everyone is a story!" I would love to read them all ! Freelance Writer/ editor/ blogger English Literature and Creative Writing Teacher
This is one of the most unique and incredibly entertaining series of books I feel an author has ever created to my knowledge ! It is all the things that life are made of without taking life to terribly serious . The books are a good analogy for life in expressing lifef's ups and downs and comings and goings with the emotions and moods that reflect each occassion . There are so many people in the stories and yet Powell finds a way for his readers to remember and become involved with each of them . This is only halfway through the volumes and I can't wait to move on . Let the dance continue !
A wonderfully full and loving look at an entire era and way of life. While it may start out a little slow, it soon wraps you up in all of its fascinating characters and connections.
Julian Fellows, please take note. Nick Jenkins and his world need you! The characters are unforgettable and the period touches impeccably precise.
Having reached my 60s and listened to Proust and James Joyce and Waugh among many others, I came to Powell not knowing what to expect. Some have said there is no plot, but I find it contains the plot of human existence particularly the relationship between men and women. Whereas Proust writes introspectively of himself. Powell writes as an observer of others. This book may not make much sense to anyone under 40 or 50. Only after you have lived through several decades might one appreciate the genius of this work. The first volume seems slow because it contains the "early" years, but I encourage folks to listen on.
This is great literature.
Retired dentist after 37 yrs & with strong artistic interests left intensive reading until my latter years and am having a ball!
I found this "First Movement" at times to be so snobbish that I cringed at being British ! However the quality of writing and descriptive gift that Anthony Powell is well worth pursuing and although disappointing even slightly boring, as a story,the autobiographical quality of the book really is a fascinating "painting" of life between the First and Second World Wars, in Britain. If one wants to get lost in someone else's life and time which is not too far away from almost memorable glimpses of Old England with the emphasis on entertaining listening, then this is a book, the first of four movements which is worth the literary effort, and will certainly will not fail to be enjoyed.
Dull as dishwater. I couldn't find anything compelling in this story, and did something I very rarely do: stopped halfway through.
I've done a bit of research about this series, and I realize this is considered high literature, and that the characters are based on people that Powell knew or who were notable at the time this was written. Maybe it was interesting to those people who were in the know about these characters, but for me, this book was a bust. I just didn't care a whit about any of them.
I suspect real editors will blanche as I compare this to the Ladies #1 Detective Agency. However, as in the L#1DA, the plot is secondary to the character development. In fact there is no plot. You simply get a picture of life in England during a particular period. It is indeed slow listening and that is the point. Before listening, download the Exclusive Interview with James Atlas and Charles McGrath on Anthony Powell. It will set the stage. Anyone hooked on the period pieces of the BBC or PBS should enjoy this book.
"Excellent description of its time"
Yes. The book is very well crafted and is in parts hilarious.
A Dance to the Music of Time is a counterpoint to C P Snow's Strangers and Brothers series of books, which covers the same period, was a great read, but did not have Powell's sense of humour.
"Beautiful language, empty characters"
Anthony Powell is playing the long game with this twelve book series - I would be interested to see what becomes of his characters as they go through the second world war. Simon Vance is an excellent narrator - capable of dealing with complex plots and large casts without overemphasis or confusion. I would always consider something he has narrated.
Widmerpool, the gangly awkward and socially inept schoolboy who nevertheless seems to rise and rise in society. Vance gets the tone just right.
It has follow-up books - it is a vast literary work - considered a classic by many, although I find the author's voice so objective and devoid of emotion that it is hard to care about any of the characters.
"A mixed bag"
Where to start with this book. Parts of it were gripping and parts of it were very dull. Some of the language was beautiful and some of the scenes were very funny. Other scenes were interminable and I was waiting for them to be over. Certain characters were great like Stringham and Gypsy Jones, while others, including the narrator, were quite dull. I guess that the ultimate test is will I read or listen to the remaining volumes. On balance, I think I will as I am hooked enough to want to know where this goes next as we hurtle towards WWII.
Although I saw the television adaption years ago I had never read the book. It's First, Second and Third Movements are a sweeping tale of the Twenties, Thirties, Second World War and beyond - those gigantic periods of history not so far away. This epic covers every sort of human condition set against an ever-changing background of social and political life. Simon Vance's narration is a masterpiece making it possible to visualise every scene and character. A truly amazing piece of acting.
"Oh god please get to the point"
Listen, even though I gave up on this book after part 1 I don't want you to think the guy can't write. He can. Really well. He knows his way around the language, it's subtleties and intricacies but why he feels the need to use so much of it to say so little I don't know.
I love wordy writers. Dylan Thomas is one of my favourite poets and I believe language is a thing of limitless possibilities and beauty but a work of prose needs some pace, humour and something to happen at least once every few chapters.
This book takes paragraph after monotone paragraph to describe really very little and I absolutely didn't believe in or care about any of the characters after listening for what felt like months.
Sorry , some say this is a classic but for me it is dull, lifeless, humourless stodge.
I am sorry, but I could not get to the end of this. It was so boring. I found the narrator very irritating with his 'Here is the News' type narration and after about 4 hours, had to stop and listen to something that would at least pique my interest!
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