Lars Guthrie's Reviews > The Soldier's Art

The Soldier's Art by Anthony Powell
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Aug 09, 09

Read in August, 2009

Stingham returns in this eighth volume of 'Dance to the Music of Time,' as well as other familiar characters. This made this more of a favorite for me than the previous 'Valley of Bones,' in which Nick's army career necessitates a new cast of characters. Stringham's seemingly winning his battle with alcoholism, if resentful of his family's intervention and although bitter and even miserable, he comes across with a kind of nobility. Moreland's back, surprisingly shacked up with Maclintick's widow. And the war and military life evolve from farce to matter-of-fact horror, as two characters lose their lives to bombing, and Maclintick's suicide is echoed. Powell amazingly keeps all the balls in the air in a saga that has now moved over three decades or more, while still contributing his tidy observations on the human condition. One I particularly liked, especially given that I am reading this opus because of a re-established childhood friendship:

'Friendship, popularly represented as something simple and straightforward—in contrast with love—is perhaps no less complicated, requiring equally mysterious nourishment; like love, too, bearing also within its embryo inherent seeds of dissolution, something more fundamentally destructive, perhaps, than the mere passing of time, the all-obliterating march of events….'
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