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 writershares 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.
©1951 Anthony Powell (P)2010 Audible, inc.
A Dance to the Music of Time, inspired by the painting of the same name by Nicolas Poussin, was rated by Time magazine as one of the 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Written by the English novelist Anthony Powell, who took almost 25 years to create the 12-volume set, provides a highly-literate and highly-amusing look into the English upper-middle class between the 1920s and the 1970s. The book covers politics, class-consciousness, society, culture, love, social graces, manners, education, power, money, snobbery, humour, and more.
Although daunting in terms of length, the absolutely brilliant narration by the talented Simon Vance rewards the reader over thousands of pages, hundreds of characters, and twelve installments of gorgeous prose. This is a not-to-be-missed collection of novels for any serious reader of English literature.
I won't belabor the point, earlier positive reviewers are right, this is an excellent production of an overlooked gem. It is full of lovely prose and a fascinating re-creation of a bygone era. The interview which accompanies the First Movement, which you should read first, makes an apt comparison to Proust, while pointing out that Powell's acute observations of character focus much less on the narrator and more on the other characters. There is little navel gazing here, and you come to appreciate the narrator "Jenkins" and his modesty which enables him to cast more light on other characters.
Readers of contemporary novels may struggle with the minimal plot of this book... very little happens during the first six hours of narration! But hang in there as Powell populates his world with memorable characters and transports you to another place and time.
Simon Vance does an excellent job.
Powell's Music of Time books are a masterpiece of English literature. Massive in scope but ironically very narrow in its analysis of people, place and time, Powell devoted his life to these novels. His prose are rich, lyrical and incredibly smart. Simon Vance is excellent as always.
I majored in English history, lived in England for four years, and loved the other books I've heard narrated by Simon Vance...and I still didn't care for this book. I never got a feel for the narrator - he doesn't seem to have a personality. He could be very descriptive about some of the other characters or settings, which was a tad bit interesting, but didn't amount to a story. I kept waiting for a plot, climax, or narrative arc, but there just isn't one. I listened to the bitter end, sure that the story would get started, but it never did. The only reviews when I bought the book were positive, so I'm hoping that you learn from my mistake and don't waste your money & time on this book! Check out "Cutting for Stone" if you like recent history - that's a brilliant book with a fantastic narrator.
If you want to study beautiful, if disjointed, descriptions of people, read this book. If you want a plot. STAY AWAY!
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No. I was excited at first and recommended it to a friend who has similar taste. But somewhere, 25% of the way, it lost it's appeal dramatically. I almost put it down - but the voice was lovely. I didn't like the characters. I was bored.
The voice. I enjoyed the vocabulary ... the grammar... the narration ... the style of talking.
Beautiful title. Don't see the connection to the story. I would title this book something like ... "People Who Caught His Attention"
The brilliantly sharp humour, and the ever deepening insights of both protagonist and indeed reader as the narrative unfolds. A marvellous portrait of an era long gone. To be compared with Brideshead Revisited.
The different voices and the sense of wistfulness that Powell intended.
No! Certainly not.
I don't blame those people who complained they were bored. It is not for everyone. This is a cerebral slow burner of a tale spread over 12 novels and about 40 years. It's not for those who like a rollicking, tumultuous incident-packed plot. It just aint that sort of work.
For those with time, patience, and an interest in English social history, this is a glorious and profound experience.
I made it through all four movements of A Dance to the Music of Time -- that's 12 separate novels -- and I think this sits with the third movement as the most appealing. The early parts of this may be the strongest of the entire cycle, but they are also the most conventional. Powell writes with real grace and patience, and he introduces the first of his more than several dozen characters. Still, the star of all the novels is the voice, and it's at its most pure here at the start.
Bottom line, you can read this movement without going on to the others, but you really can't do the reverse.
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.
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