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A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement Audiobook

A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement

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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 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.

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

3.3 (606 )
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4.0 (395 )
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  •  
    Emily 06-16-17
    Emily 06-16-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointed"

    I so wanted to love this book. I wanted to love all the books that come after it as well, but despite the narrator's excellence, I couldn't care a whit about any of the characters. Six hours in and I give up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dede 01-30-17
    Dede 01-30-17
    ratings
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    208
    3
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    Story
    "A Surefire Cure for Insomnia "

    My eyes are glazing over. If I ever ask an old Englishman how long it took him to get laid, well, just shoot me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Magnus Arendal, Norway Norway 09-22-16
    Magnus Arendal, Norway Norway 09-22-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Always look out for life's Whitmepool"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn Copley Oxford, MS 08-20-16
    Dawn Copley Oxford, MS 08-20-16 Member Since 2014

    "Everyone is a story!" I would love to read them all ! Freelance Writer/ editor/ blogger English Literature and Creative Writing Teacher

    ratings
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    6
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    Story
    "Oh what a dance !!!"

    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 !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron 07-07-16
    Aaron 07-07-16 Member Since 2015
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    "A vivid look at an old world."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy Turchette Boston, MA United States 02-14-16
    Peggy Turchette Boston, MA United States 02-14-16 Member Since 2011
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    "A cure for Downton Abbey pangs of withdrawal!"

    Julian Fellows, please take note. Nick Jenkins and his world need you! The characters are unforgettable and the period touches impeccably precise.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Canon John 3 10-21-15

    Fr John

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you have eyes to see and wisdom to understand"
    Any additional comments?

    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. <br/>This is great literature.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Walton Philadelphia, PA United States 05-20-12
    Martha Walton Philadelphia, PA United States 05-20-12 Member Since 2016
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    "THIS SHOULD BE READ"
    Would you be willing to try another book from Anthony Powell? Why or why not?

    YES, but this is difficult to listen to as there are so many characters over such a long period of time.


    1 of 2 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
  •  
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 09-12-11
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 09-12-11 Member Since 2015
    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
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  • Anon
    7/21/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful language, empty characters"
    Would you try another book written by Anthony Powell or narrated by Simon Vance?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favourite?

    Widmerpool, the gangly awkward and socially inept schoolboy who nevertheless seems to rise and rise in society. Vance gets the tone just right.


    Do you think A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 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
  • 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.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • DT
    7/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    ""The interminable linoleum of our school-days.""
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes. It is good to read a novel that develops slowly - after all, these are the first three novels in a twelve-volume series.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    N/A


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favourite?

    Widmerpool.


    Could you see A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

    It is already a TV series.


    Any additional comments?

    The least interesting feature of the first three novels, at least, of Anthony Powell's 12-volume "A Dance to the Movement of Time" (1951-1975) is its philosophy of time-as-music-and-art and of the inter-relatedness of everything. Powell opens book one, "A Question of Upbringing" (1951) with a discrete scene, almost an extended epigraph, which initiates this philosophy by way of a reference to Nicolas Poussin’s 1636 painting, "A Dance to the Music of Time". But this scene could be more remarkable as a brief acknowledgement of a world of labour that is elsewhere largely absent from the novels; these are best appreciated as a satire of middle- and upper-middle-class men who have barely escaped their public school-days, even by the end of book three, which marks the first “movement” of the series. That novel, "The Acceptance World" (1955), concludes with a wonderful account of the annual school reunion and its host, the boys' former housemaster, Le Bas. This is Powell at his best: he gets the tone of satire just right because it arises from within the social milieu, needing only the not-entirely honest detachment of Nicholas Jenkins as narrator to provide a degree of critical edge. There are many other opportunities for acute observations as the small group of main characters run into each other, usually at society events in London from the 1920s into the 1930s. It says something about the quality of Powell’s writing that the novels held my attention even though most of the characters are deficient in sympathy and understanding and evince narrowness of outlook that derives from their material advantages. Through Jenkins’ point of view, it can be suggested that Powell is critical of the shallowness of the social world portrayed, even though he is far from a radical social commentator. It is less clear that he is critical of the roles to which Nicholas assigns the women he meets, and he is more liberal than everyone else he meets, male or female.<br/><br/>Nicholas Jenkins has his fortune told at one point, as though Powell isn't confident that the first-person narration is successfully conveying his character; or, perhaps it is that Jenkins isn’t that much of a character, however crucial he is to the novels. This is most evident in the presentation of the character of Kenneth Widmerpool, who becomes central to the twelve novels. It is a brilliant technique to have Widmerpool presented intermittently in these first three novels and through the first-person narration of Nicholas Jenkins.<br/><br/>Widmerpool is an extraordinary character, in part because, in comparison with the socially-accomplished Charles Stringham and Peter Templar, Nicholas’s two most important contemporaries at school he verges on the embarrassing. At the school reunion, Nicholas comments on Widmerpool’s "innate oddness, one might almost say his monstrosity" and, yet, in this third novel we become aware that, alongside the frenetic social world as characters come and go and revolve around Stringham, Templar and Jenkins, himself, Widmerpool is doggedly rising. "Ah, yes, Widermerpool. ... I hope he will find his level in life", Le Bas remarks, thereby missing the point of Widmerpool. It should be said, however, that Widmerpool’s rise is quite unlike that of many characters in novels of social mobility – exactly how different is best appreciated by readers, themselves, though a sense of how different is suggested by Jenkins’ description of Widmerpool’s odd but determined style of dancing. It is in these passages of social satire and character delineation, rather than in the explicit philosophical interventions made by Nicholas Jenkins on Powell’s behalf that Powell’s achievement is best appreciated. For all the talk of roman-fleuve, time, art, and music, Powell's novels do not push the boundaries of the novel as a genre.

    0 of 1 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

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