2008: 88-86. A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st movement

“The men at work at the corner of the street had made a kind of camp for themselves, where, marked out by tripods hung with red-hurricane lamps, an abyss in the road lead down to a network of subterranean drain-pipes.”

A Dance to the Music of Time, First Movement, Anthony Powell

    *A Question of Upbringing

    *A Buyer’s Market

    *The Acceptance World


So this one volume is really three novels, the first three novels of Anthony Powell’s twelve volume A Dance to The Music Of Time series.  Modern Library top 100 and all that jazz, the series is narrated by Nick Jenkins, but really tells the story of England in the early twentieth century (I believe it goes through the 50’s, but the first three volumes only took me through the early 1930’s).  Starting with Jenkins’ time in prep school, through his time at Cambridge, then into his young adulthood, he narrates his life, remarking on the people he meets (who often appear and reappear like his prep school friends Stringham and Templar, and the outsider, Widmerpool).  The books aren’t really concerned with plot, per se, but rather the ways in which life ebbs and flows, and events occur, people reappear, and so forth.

Even though, on reflection, I am having a hard time recounting why I enjoyed the book, I did.  They are the kinds of books that you sort of sink into, in the sense that you are living Jenkins life, and the writing is good enough, and captures life enough that it doesn’t really matter that the plot is minimal.  I think Powell was a horrible old snob, and probably wouldn’t like me one bit (an educated woman! an American! a Roman Catholic! a prole!), but I enjoyed the way he made me feel like I was part of this upper crust English life, and could easily ignore the fact that he doesn’t seem aware that there are perfectly acceptable other types of lives out there.  I’ll read the rest of the series, once I get my hands on them.


Date/Place Completed: 6/9/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Commuting Book, Modern Library, Book Resolution

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017