Synopses & Reviews
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, Jenkins—a 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
"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."—Elizabeth Janeway, New York Times
"One of the most important works of fiction since the Second World War. . . . The novel looked, as it began, something like a comedy of manners; then, for a while, like a tragedy of manners; now like a vastly entertaining, deeply melancholy, yet somehow courageous statement about human experience."—Naomi Bliven, New Yorker
“A superlative new short novel, a satirical zinger. . . . O, How the Wheel Becomes It! is a distillation of all that is inimitable about its author—deflation of high seriousness and the pursuit of esteem at the expense of others, achieved with rigorous understatement; a wryness that is never mocking or arch; and a sense of pathos just offstage.”
“Powell has always dealt beautifully with the vagaries of the sexual imagination. . . . A treat for the many Powell addicts.”
“Powell’s observations of human behavior are as sharp, his ear for conversation as devastatingly accurate, his wit as trenchant, as they ever were.”
“The unmatched serenity of Powell’s humor is the product of a classical perspective: confident that the more obvious verities of life do not change much, he refuses to wring his hands at the decadence of the age, contenting himself with the sheer spectacle of human excess.”
“There is no other . . . British novelist whose sense of social nuance is so delicate or so subtle, or whose comic range is so wide. . . . And there is certainly no other novelist whose work gives so much or such consistent pleasure.”
“One of his cleverest, funniest, and most delightful books.”
“Elegantly casual and scandalously funny. . . . Venusberg, I once read somewhere, is a satire on totalitarian government. That’s as good a handle for it as any. Yet it concentrates much more on men and women than upon the laws that govern them. . . . In some of the best light dialogue of our time, Powell makes clear the difference between feverish sophistication and true worldliness.”
“A brilliant picture of diplomatic and less exalted society in a little Baltic State. Mr. Powell’s dialogue and comments are crisp, shrewd, and satirical, and his second novel is a worthy successor to Afternoon Men.”
“Powell’s novels bite deep, but only to reveal that even at our most foolish we are all in it together.”
“Looking back at Powell’s earlier novels, it is possible to see him discovering there how to use his razor-sharp satirical sense until it is purged of bitterness and extravagance.”
The first novel Anthony Powell published following the completion of his epic A Dance to the Music of Time
, O, How the Wheel Becomes It!
fulfills perhaps every author’s fantasy as it skewers a conceited, lazy, and dishonest critic. A writer who avoids serving in World War II and veers in and out of marriage, G. F. H. Shadbold ultimately falls victim to the title’s spinning—and righteous—emblem of chance. Sophisticated and a bit cruel, Wheel
’s tale of posthumous vengeance is, nonetheless, irresistible.
Written at the peak of the late British master’s extraordinary literary career, this novel offers profound insight into the mind of a great artist whose unequaled style, ear for dialogue, and eye for irony will delight devotees and new readers alike.
Written from a vantage point both high and deliberately narrow, the early novels of the late British master Anthony Powell nevertheless deal in the universal themes that would become a substantial part of his oeuvre: pride, greed, and the strange drivers of human behavior. More explorations of relationships and vanity than plot-driven narratives, Powell’s early works reveal the stirrings of the unequaled style, ear for dialogue, and eye for irony that would reach their caustic peak in his epic, A Dance to the Music of Time
Powell’s sophomore novel, Venusberg, follows journalist Lushington as he leaves behind his unrequited love in England and travels by boat to an unnamed Baltic state. Awash in a marvelously odd assortment of counts and ladies navigating a multicultural, elegant, and politically precarious social scene, Lushington becomes infatuated with his very own, very foreign Venus. An action-packed literary precursor to Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Venusberg is replete with assassins and Nazis, loose countesses and misunderstandings, fatal accidents and social comedy. But beyond its humor, this early installment in Powell’s literary canon will offer readers a welcome window onto the mind of a great artist learning his craft.
About the Author
Anthony Powell (1905-2000) was an English novelist best known for A Dance to the Music of Time, which was published in twelve volumes between 1951 and 1975. He also wrote seven other novels, a biography of John Aubrey, two plays, and three volumes of collected reviews and essays, as well as a four-volume autobiography, an abridged version of which, To Keep the