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A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement | [Anthony Powell]

A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview.

In this exclusive interview with Audible Modern Vanguard host Jim Atlas, Charles McGrath contrasts Anthony Powell’s multi-volume masterpiece with the novels of Marcel Proust and Evelyn Waugh. In its scope – a universe populated by over 300 characters! - Dance to the Music of Time has as much in common with character-driven TV series like The Wire and The Sopranos as it does with other classics of British social comedy.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (532 )
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  •  
    Jennifer 08-20-10
    Jennifer 08-20-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "totallly devoid of plot"

    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.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harriet United Kingdom 11-18-12
    Harriet United Kingdom 11-18-12 Member Since 2012

    Retired dentist after 37 yrs & with strong artistic interests left intensive reading until my latter years and am having a ball!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Was tough to take! but brilliantly written."

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clodhopper Tucson, AZ, United States 07-31-12
    Clodhopper Tucson, AZ, United States 07-31-12 Member Since 2013

    I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brideshead Regurgitated"

    Anthony Powell never manages to raise English public school angst to the intensity that Waugh does. Too much rumination, too much action left latent, to little drama. The only thing that recommends this series is that Audible's library of unabridged Evelyn Waugh novels is so inadequate....

    As usual, Simon Vance's narration is excellent.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Sebring, FL, United States 11-13-11
    Sharon Sebring, FL, United States 11-13-11 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book to Sleep WIth"

    Listening to “A Dance to the Music of Time” is like hearing someone reminisce about his life – school years, vacations, parties, people he knew, etc. The first-person narrator, Nick Jenkins, talks a lot, but his recollections don’t go anywhere. There’s little plot, no drama, sporadic thoughtful observations, but, overall, no real insight to be gained.

    As for the audio book narrator, Simon Vance, I have listened to his works probably a dozen times, and I don’t think this lilting, sonorous performance is his best. He needed to slow down and enunciate. I found that every time I started listening to this book, my mind wandered, and it became background noise. Frankly, for several weeks, I used it to lull myself to sleep at night, without feeling any real need, the next day, to rewind passages to find out what I’d missed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bocaboy Boca Raton, FL USA 10-17-11
    Bocaboy Boca Raton, FL USA 10-17-11 Member Since 2011

    BocaBoy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I really didn't get it"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracey Schaumburg, IL, United States 09-19-11
    Tracey Schaumburg, IL, United States 09-19-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Please do yourself a favor and skip this book!"
    What disappointed you about A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement?

    There is no plot and by no plot I mean NOTHING. I listened and restarted this book 5 times.
    There was nothing to keep my interest, no story line to follow. I tried so hard to find anything. It was literally a young gentleman and who he encounters, a short description of this person and some interaction. Then on to the next person/place. There was no one character that was fully developed. Nothing to relate to. I gave up before I even got to part 2 and I have only done that once before and I've listened audible stories for years.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Anthony Powell again?

    Never


    Would you be willing to try another one of Simon Vance’s performances?

    Uncertain


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement?

    I would not have approved it in the first place.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 09-12-11
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 09-12-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Panorama"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 08-27-11
    William Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 08-27-11 Member Since 2015

    Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Most enjoyable"

    I concur with all the glowing reviews of this audio book....the whole series.

    Undoubtedly, Simon Vance's, always sterling several other audio books I have, is totally in the zone with this one.

    The author's description of the mostly banal, prosaic events and interactions of the multitude of characters over the span of years, decades is quietly yet deeply fascinating.

    Though weeks since finishing the final volume, I frequently listen again to various chapters. Powell puts highly descriptive words and phrases to elemental human events that I can so much identify but never the depth nor capacity of nuance to articulate.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Clayton, NC, United States 08-05-11
    Robert Clayton, NC, United States 08-05-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    7
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    "who cares?"

    To be honest, I'm floored by the positive reviews for this book. I have a pretty high tolerance for "slow" and for books without action. But if this book is a crashing bore, it's not because it's slow or without action, although it is. The book is a bore because we never learn enough about any one character--the narrator included--to care about him or her. The writing is good, but unexceptional. I was left in the final analysis to say, "Who cares about any of this?" Especially coming off Galsworthy's riveting Forsyte Saga, this was a big disappointment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra 07-03-11
    Sandra 07-03-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Detailed to death..."

    I enjoy British and period books, for the culture and history, and I deliberately seek out unabridged version of everything, but the details this author includes describing body language - posture, hand gestures, facial expressions and even breath sounds, etc - is too distracting from the dialogue. I have stopped listening after only a few hours of this narration. It is too painful to listen to the whole thing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Ian
    PLYMOUTH, United Kingdom
    4/23/13
    Overall
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    Gillingham, United Kingdom
    4/10/13
    Overall
    "Awesome Epic"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    10/28/10
    Overall
    "Boring, boring"

    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!

    3 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Stewart
    RadstockUnited Kingdom
    4/16/11
    Overall
    "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.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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