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A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement (A Dance to the Music of Time #1-3)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  2,784 ratings  ·  198 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, busi

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Paperback, 718 pages
Published May 31st 1995 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1951)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Manny
I've been meaning for some time to post a review of Dance to the Music of Time, which is pretty much my favorite book ever, but it's hard to know where to start. If you've read it, you know it's a masterpiece, and anything I say is irrelevant. If you haven't read it, I'm faced with the daunting task of persuading you that it's worth your time to get through it. Not only is it 12 volumes long, but everyone calls Powell the English Proust. Why read some inferior Proust wannabe when you can get the ...more
Steve
As an unrefined youth (up until last year or so) when someone said Jane Austen’s novels were all about manners, I’d wonder how it was she could have filled whole books with talk about fork placement and ballroom protocol. It finally dawned on me that they must have meant manners in a broader sense – prevailing customs, ways of living – that sort of thing. ;-) If my new interpretation is indeed correct, I can state with confidence that this collection of twelve Anthony Powell classics is also all ...more
notgettingenough
I’ve been somewhere tonight that Ant has never been and frankly, I’m thinking maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s better to discuss how posh people lay the cutlery for dinner parties than life at the bottom. And I have only myself to blame. [Much, much later: the rest of this entry has been cut on the grounds that it is crap, even by the standards set here]

And, as usual, I hope it is understood that a review of A Dance to the Music of Time can be about absolutely anything.

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David Lentz
A "A Dance to the Music of Time" may well be one of the great literary works about the everyday life of the upper class in England and those attempting to break into it or rise within its social ranks. The writing is excellent, of course, but I rarely found myself transported by this work of meta-fiction about social climbing and high society, for example, in the same way in which Proust does. Powell is often considered an English Proust as the focus of the writing has to do with life and strivi ...more
Tea Jovanović
Po ovom serijalu knjiga, snimljena je i sjajna britanska serija... Davno se prikazivala i kod nas...
David

“...at the termination of a given passage of time...the hidden gate goes down...and all scoring is doubled. This is perhaps an image of how we live. For reasons not always at the time explicable, there are specific occasions when events begin suddenly to take on a significance previously unsuspected; so that before we really know where we are, life seems to have begun in earnest at last, and we ourselves, scarcely aware that any change has taken place, are careering uncontrollably down the slip
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Ted
I'm giving these three novels (A Question of Upbringing, A Buyer's Market, The Acceptance World) five stars even though one of my criteria is that I would seriously consider reading them again. Since this is my first reading of Powell, and since I have nine more books to go to complete A Dance to the Music of Time, that would be an ambitious and perhaps unrealistic claim to make at this time (and at my age).

Nevertheless, I'm making the rating for a couple reasons. First, had I read these (first
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Vit Babenco
Spring is a season when nature awakes and everything comes into blossom…
Youth is a spring of human life – consciousness awakes and everyone is full of high expectations… And it is also a time of opening one’s eyes and shedding some delusions.
“But, in a sense, nothing in life is planned – or everything is – because in the dance every step is ultimately the corollary of the step before; the consequence of being the kind of person one chances to be.”
Anthony Powell literally makes “long-forgotten co
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Kim

A Dance to the Music of Time is a twelve-novel cycle examining English society from the 1920s to the 1960s through the lives of its predominantly upper middle class characters, which is presented as the memoirs of the narrator, Nick Jenkins. The cycle is broken into four "movements", consisting of three novels each. This, the first movement, is comprised of A Question of Upbringing, A Buyer's Market and The Acceptance World.

The title is a reference to Nicolas Poussin's painting of the same nam
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Lisa
Jan 22, 2012 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa by: Lurline
A Dance to the Music of Time is a delicious book: I am loving every minute of reading it. Originally comprising 12 separate novels published from 1951 to 1975 it now comes in four volumes and I’ve only read the first volume so far, but I am hooked.

Sometimes compared to Proust’s A La Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Lost Time), Anthony Powell’s masterpiece might also be called a comedy of manners. It is much easier to read than Proust, and not just because the sentences are shorter: it’s
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Ed
This and the other four volumes are actually a total of 12 novels following a welter of British characters from 1914 until the mid 1960s. I am about to start reading the whole sequence for the third time. There is also a great BBC dramatization on DVD: Dance to the Music of Time.

This is the British equivalent of Proust's In Search of Lost Time. I guess I find it closer to life as it was lived in the 20th century and certainly to the idea of our lives as a dance that characters keep returning to,
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Bette
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, Powell gives a highly detailed picture of English life between the wars for a certain class of men. And some of it is quite funny. On the other hand, it was incredibly slow moving (though listening to large parts of it dramatized the book more than reading it). Nicholas Jenkins, the protagonist of the book, is very passive, more an observer than a truly well-rounded character. And his views of women are condescending and derogatory. I ...more
Nigeyb
"A Dance to the Music of Time" is a twelve-volume cycle of novels by Anthony Powell. The books are available individually or as four volumes.

Spring
A Question of Upbringing (1951)
A Buyer's Market (1952)
The Acceptance World (1955)

Summer
At Lady Molly's (1957)
Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (1960)
The Kindly Ones (1962)

Autumn
The Valley of Bones (1964)
The Soldier's Art (1966)
The Military Philosophers (1968)

Winter
Books Do Furnish a Room (1971)
Temporary Kings (1973)
Hearing Secret Harmonies (1975)

(Dates ar
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
First posting 6/11/2014 for A Question of Upbringing
Second posting 7/29/2014 for A Buyer's Market
Final Posting 8/19/2014 for The Acceptance World

This edition includes the first three books of the 12-volume series. I'll "review" them individually, as that is how I'm reading them.

A Question of Upbringing introduces us to who I assume will be the four main characters throughout the series. It is told in the first person by Jenkins (first name as yet unknown) and begins in "about the year 1921." The
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Timothy Hallinan
My favorite novel of the 20th century is probably Anthony Powell's twelve-volume marathon, A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME, written between 1951 and 1975. Supremely civilized, enormous in design, an unforgettable picture of a way of life (and a class) that were disappearing even when Powell was one of the "bright young people" who were so visible in the 1920s in London, the books that make up Dance are also very funny.

I first read DANCE when I was in my early thirties, and the story (in the first t
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Gary Lee
Jul 25, 2008 Gary Lee rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: armchair anglophiles
This contains the first three novels of Powell's cycle.

A Question of Upbringing -- 4 out of 5 stars.
This first novel, of the overall twelve novels involved, comes across as little more than a high(er)-brow version of A Seperate Peace. And to me, that's not a bad thing. It's quite readable, if a bit dry in places, and manages itself very well.

It's essentially the first (230page) chapter of an overall novel that spans the life of the main character; so, this time is spent introducing the character
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Cheryl
This book was in 3 parts and this is some of my frustration on how to rate the book. Even having completed the book, I'm still struggling with some of the first portion. I either was missing key points along the way, or that part of the story could have been shorter. By a lot. By the last portion, I really liked it. I could see things more clearly. The people seemed more 3 dementional. I'm probably going to have to read the next book now, which I didn't imagine I would say when I finished the fi ...more
Shelley
On a recent holiday to London we decided not to be too touristy and spent our time walking the streets and soaking up the feel of the city. We actually stayed around the corner from Shepherd's Market in Mayfair - exactly where Nick Jenkins resided. So, reading this was not only wonderful because of the great characters and comic relief, the sense of place for me was magical.
Sophia
At last: I've been looking forward to reading these novels for years. Now that I'm more used to the style and the pace - and less irritated by Nick Jenkins (!) - I'm delighted; and I'm hooked. I look forward to reading the next three volumes in this reputable quartet.
Michael Battaglia
It's difficult to write about this series without mentioning Proust at some point, so I might as well get it out of the way now. It's probably not a coincidence I'm reading this series not long after finishing a certain doorstop of a translated French novel, for one thing they stack really nicely together and if you're browsing in a well-stocked bookstore they're shelved conveniently near each other thanks to the last names being very similar. It doesn't take long for the eye to wander from the ...more
Brenda Cregor
Now, I must be honest.
While the book did captivate me in the end, I am glad there are at three other "movements" to be read, or I would not have felt the story had concluded, as, of course, it was not meant to.
For Powell, the author, to build the social and political settings for the novels which follow, it took hundreds of pages before I began to feel an engagement with characters.
This being said, Powell has tremendous insight into the complexities of love and human psychology. In addition,
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Alisa
Some books take a while to get into. That first 50 or 100 pages that require faith or pigheadness to get through, and then all of a sudden the door opens, you're inside, and you're so glad you lasted.

Like that, only it took two and a half novels. I had to start book 2 two times, but I sailed right into book 3. Whenever Widmerpool is on the scene, I can't stop reading. He is so grotesque (at least through the narrator's eyes) but so very fascinating. In a way, he is the only character who is real
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Barksdale Penick
If one invests the time to read 12 volumes, one must love it, and I did on this my second reading of the series. The pace is a little slow at times, and the coincidences among characters so frequent and overlapping as to verge at times on the absurd. There a re many memorable characters, but the center of the tale is the narrator, Nichloas Jenkins, who, seemingly without trying, is everywhere anything happens and just happens to know everyone. He is never the center of attention, but dryly repor ...more
Mike
Yes, it's long -- in total, twelve novels long. And yes, it's not an easy read -- Powell is incredibly erudite, and writes with an arch-irony that takes an immense amount of concentration. But it's also the most rewarding reading experience I've ever had.

The series is essentially the story of Nicholas Jenkins, and everyman who narrates his life's journey from the years immediately after WWI to the dawn of Thatcherism. Along the way nearly every type of personality and institution indicative of t
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Trina
I loved listening to this First Movement of the four-volume saga, which starts in 1920s London. I really enjoyed getting to know the many characters, and I found their lives and adventures both amusing and at the same time touching. The "narrator" Nick Jenkins is a great observer while being himself quite interesting in his own right. I have always thought this might be too much of a comedy of manners, and it is that, but the characters and settings are much richer than that phrase implies. Don' ...more
James
Powell takes you back to a time and place, Britain and France in the 1920s, that no longer exists. He also describes a class culture that is unfamiliar to this reader who grew up in the Midwest. He does this with a prose style and a structure that, through episodes in the lives of four boys on the verge of adulthood, slowly builds a story that seems very true to life. You gradually learn about the relationships through the eys of the narrator, Jenkins, and by the time he says goodbye to his Uncl ...more
Carey Combe
I am so far loving this - the language, the ideas, the characterisation all combine to make a wonderful portrayal of the march of time. My only bugbear is I feel he either does not like women or that I shall have to read further to get decent portrayals of any woman in the novel. I mean what is a line like; "perhaps all girls were in a difficult mood that night", doing in a book hailed as the great modern novel. The humour and irony so prevalent in the book seem to be missing with his descriptio ...more
Whitley
I count the Dance to the Music of Time as one of the most important literary achievements of the 20th century. I've read the entire sequence of novels twice, and found the second reading a richer experiences than the first, such is the density and complexity of Powell's amazing achievement. Powell has created the richest and most detailed fictional narrative in the English language, in my opinion. I will read the series a third time in a few years, because there is much hidden in the story, I fe ...more
Alun
This is another one of the many books that I first read back when I was at school and have re-read since. I decided I might acquire the whole series and so embarked on the first once again - a nice new copy for the library.

Firstly, I quickly recalled the book and its characters after having forgotten them over the years. I had hoped it would seem fresh but it didn't. I found them as frustrating as the first time around so despite my years of experience since the last time, I didn't find more in
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Derek Davis
There was nothing else quite like this written in the second half of the 20th century. Basically, it's a 19th-century British novel in tone and substance sent on an errand into modern times.

Powell set out to write a cycle of 12 novels, which he completed over a 25-year period ending in 1975. Functionally, "A Dance to the Music of Time" is a single, long novel, carrying the narrator, Nick Jenkins, and his immense gaggle of friends and passing acquaintances onward from college days at Oxford. Thi
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Anthony Dymoke Powel CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.
Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
More about Anthony Powell...

Other Books in the Series

A Dance to the Music of Time (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1)
  • A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)
  • The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3)
  • At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4)
  • Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5)
  • The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6)
  • The Valley of Bones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7)
  • The Soldier's Art (A Dance to the Music of Time, #8)
  • The Military Philosophers (A Dance to the Music of Time, #9)
  • Books Do Furnish a Room (A Dance to the Music of Time, #10)
A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) A Dance to the Music of Time: 3rd Movement A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement A Dance to the Music of Time: 4th Movement A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)

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“Later in life, I learnt that many things one may require have to be weighed against one's dignity, which can be an insuperable barrier against advancement in almost any direction. However, in those days, choice between dignity and unsatisfied curiosity was less clear to me as a cruel decision that had to be made.” 7 likes
“Speaking about time’s relentless passage, Powell’s narrator compares certain stages of experience to the game of Russian Billiards as once he used to play it with a long vanished girlfriend. A game in which, he says,

“...at the termination of a given passage of time...the hidden gate goes down...and all scoring is doubled. This is perhaps an image of how we live. For reasons not always at the time explicable, there are specific occasions when events begin suddenly to take on a significance previously unsuspected; so that before we really know where we are, life seems to have begun in earnest at last, and we ourselves, scarcely aware that any change has taken place, are careering uncontrollably down the slippery avenues of eternity."
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