Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hearing Secret Harmonies (A Dance to the Music of Time, #12)” as Want to Read:
Hearing Secret Harmonies (A Dance to the Music of Time, #12)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Hearing Secret Harmonies

(A Dance to the Music of Time #12)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  458 ratings  ·  64 reviews

A Dance to the Music of Time – his brilliant 12-novel sequence, which chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England.

The novels follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles that stand between them and the “Acceptance World.”

Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 9th 1983 by Flamingo (first published 1975)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hearing Secret Harmonies, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Hearing Secret Harmonies

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

Such a long journey! We first met Nick Jenkins in school, as a teenager with a keen interest in the affairs of others and a rather reclusive, shy temperament. Now he is in his late sixties, and hopefully he has some wisdom to impart from all the events he witnessed, from all the people he has met and from all the books he has read or written.

Two compensations for growing old are worth putting on record as the condition asserts itself. The first is a vantage point gained for acquiring embellishm
Certain books are age specific: not in a "Suitable for ages 7 and up" way; they just have to be read at the right time in life to truly resonate. Catcher in the Rye has, I think, to be read in one's adolesence; any older and the angst would just grate. On the other hand, I would say that Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time can't be read any younger than one's middle years. I don't think the way it captures so perfectly the unexpectedness of life's trajectories would make any sense to anyone yo ...more
Diane Barnes
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is with a great sense of accomplishment that I finish this twelfth volume in Powell ' s "A Dance to the Music of Time." I had wanted to read this for many years, but was daunted by the sheer scope of reading over 3000 pages. Last year I was invited to join a small group reading and discussing one volume per month, which seemed to be possible. It has been a wonderful experience; I have looked forward to each month's installment, the discussion of art, music, literature, and all the characters ...more
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Two compensations for growing old are worth putting on record as the condition asserts itself. The first is a vantage point gained for acquiring embellishments to narratives that have been unfolding for years beside one’s own, trimmings that can even appear to supply the conclusion of a given story, though finality is never certain, a dimension always possible to add. The other mild advantage endorses keener perception for the authenticities of mythology, not only of the traditional sort, but – ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's curious to consider that when Anthony Powell wrote Hearing Secret Harmonies the final novel in the twelve-novel series “A Dance to the Music of Time”, and despite the series starting in the early twentieth century, that it was almost contemporaneous, being published in 1975, and taking place in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and makes references to hippies, the permissive society, Vietnam, and Enoch Powell.

The final two volumes, Temporary Kings and Hearing Secret Harmonies, each moving th
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Obviously I'm going to chew on this last book for a bit and try and roll the whole thing up. Powell reminds me of one of those extreme runners. Those masochists who seem to enjoy running 50, 100, or more miles. The amazing things about writing 12 novels that are together nearly 3000 pages and written over 24 years (1951 - 1971), is how uniform these books are. I'm not saying uniform in a boring way. I'm just saying there isn't a real weak link in them. They are beautifully constructed. I think o ...more
Vit Babenco
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“We are often told we must establish with certainty the values of the society in which we live. That is a right and proper ambition, one to be laid down without reticence as to yea or nay. Let me say at once what I stand for myself. I stand for the dictatorship of free men, and the catalysis of social, physical and spiritual revolution. I claim the right to do so in the name of contemporary counterculture…”
The riotous sixties are around and about… a general shift in mass consciousness, emancipat
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"In my beginning is my end."

A brilliant final act in Powell's Dance. This last volume charts the decline and fall of Kenneth Widmerpool and brings this great work to a very satisfactory end. Wonderful stuff.
is the final novel in Anthony Powell's twelve-volume masterpiece, A Dance to the Music of Time. It was published in 1975 twenty-four years after the first book, A Question of Upbringing appeared in 1951.

Completing his meditation upon the themes of time and will, the author recounts the narrative in the voice of a convincingly middle-aged Jenkins. (In the television adaptation of the novels an older actor was chosen to play Nick in the final part.)

4* A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Musi
Hearing Secrets Harmonies by Anthony Powell
Sublime…you can almost Hear the Secret Harmonies…

Alas, this is the last of twelve volumes in the magnificent series A Dance to the Music of Time by the divine Anthony Powell

- The English Proust- this is how he was regarded by critics

Indeed, his chef d’oeuvre compares well with Remembrance of Things Past, probably the best novel ever written.
We have said goodbye to a number of main characters in the eleven previous volumes, starting with Charles Stringha
Dec 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the final novel in Anthony Powell’s twelve novel series, “A Dance to the Music of Time,” all narrated by the writer Nick Jenkins, now in his fifties and sixties, the novel opening with a chapter devoted to Nick and his wife Isobel hosting their niece Fiona and her three companions who are part of an apparent religious cult or commune, by the second chapter moving into Nick’s reflections about writing and narrative, considering specifically Poussin’s famous painting that lends its own tit ...more
How does one go about writing a Goodreads review for a book one has read 59 times? The whole sequence: A Dance to the Music of Time, all 12 volumes, 59 times. Obviously, I enjoy the novel. Recently I read a fellow Goodreads reviewer suggesting that one really needs to be middle-aged before turning to Powell in order to enjoy the book. That was not my experience. I was introduced to Powell's novel sequence at 20 and I have read it at least once a year every year since. In the beginning, I found m ...more
Matthew Hunter
Whew! 12 novels, approximately 3,000 pages worth of reading behind me. I want to spend more time in Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time universe. I will miss Hugh Moreland, Uncle Giles, X. Trapnel, Charles Stringham, Peter Templer, even asshat Kenneth Widmerpool. (I’ll miss neither Pamela Flitton nor Scorpio Murtlock, though I don’t expect I’ll forget them.) Only one hour removed from turning the last page, and I’m already making plans for a reread.

Not surprisingly, Narrator Nick Jenkins’ own
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
And so it ends; the final volume in Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time is complete exactly 365 days after I started it. Was it worth it. Yes, I’d say so. Did I love it. No, not really.

The book ends with some quite esoteric encounters with what can only be described as a cult. A collection of vagabond hippies have found inspiration in a collection of pagan rituals based on the life and work of the long deceased Dr Trelawney. Somewhat surprisingly, this cult enfolds one of the key characters an
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
And thus, it's over. It took me quite some time to work may way through Dance, as I read other books between it, but the commitment was worth it. I started it with no realization of what I was getting into, it was a mystery book that sprang up on the nook account I shared with my mom. It was a whim, really. I just needed something new to read and it was there. At the first chapter I thought there was no way I would male it through the first book, let alone the last one, but how wrong I was. It s ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This concludes Powell's 12-novel cycle, 'A Dance to the Music of Time.' In short, it is one of the towering achievements in literature, an astonishing admixture of history and memoir in fictional form. And, Kenneth Widmerpool, the cycle's antagonist, is one of the greatest creations in fiction.
Also I must give a shout-out to Hilary Spurling's 'Invitation to the Dance: A Handbook to A Dance to the Music of Time,' an indispensable guide. My thanks for my friend Tess Parker for steering me to it.
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There must be a review tucked away somewhere in here of another edition. I have, at last, realized an ambition of about 15 years’ duration—to have read A Dance to the Music Time once for every year I’ve been alive. It has been, without serious challenge from any other quarter, the most influential novel of my life, for reasons I’ve pontificated about in other reviews, here and elsewhere, endlessly. In year 60, I have just finished reading it for the 60th time. There are still new aspects about w ...more
Shaun Heenan
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
One could look back at my history of giving mostly 3s and 3.5s to each individual volume and come to the conclusion that I wasn't particularly impressed with A Dance to the Music of Time. One could then dig a little deeper and notice that I read all twelve of these books over the course of just three months, which gives a clearer picture of my feelings. (Proust, definitely the nearest comparison, took me nearly a full year.)

While no volume by itself (with perhaps the exception of The Soldier's A
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-original
The circle is completed, and what a saga! Other than that, I wouldn't say this entry was my favourite.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
And so the 12 novel cycle, named after Poussin's painting "A Dance To The Music of Time" and written and published over a 24 year period (1951-75), comes to an end. The Empire has fallen, Britain is somewhere around the time of the 3 Day Week in 1973, values seem to have been trampled on and debased. Widmerpool is unsurprisingly the main focus of this last novel, although in a rather gaudy, unconvincing way, seeing as he gets mixed up in a rather cartoonish cult. While this can serve to resonate ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
3 1/2 stars (for the whole series)

The grand finale to the rather epic 12 book series and it's suitably peculiar. I'm not particularly up with the subtle changes between the years but even I can pick out the bohemianish feel of the times now, mostly personified in the character of Scorpio Murtlock, a sexually charismatic individual who sets up his own cult and dominates his followers in very creepy ways. Almost inevitably his path crosses with Widmerpool and, drama. Of the Anthony Powell variety
Alexander Van Leadam
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was unable to find how to add a review for the whole series of A Dance to the Music of Time, so I attached it to the first volume and repeat it here because of the reference to this volume:
It's quite hard to summarize a reader's experience with a twelve-volume novel, even though I have to admit that I love such gigantic, epic attempts. Powell's world isn't one that fascinates me -upper class and bohemia- and most situations and actions are either insignificant or limited in scope (even with r
Lars Guthrie
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powell comes on with full force in 'Hearing Secret Harmonies,' letting the reader run into nearly all the characters from the twelve novels of 'Dance' who are still alive, while introducing strong new ones representing the youth movement of the 70s. The nefarious Scorpio Murtlock, leader of a wiccan and satanic cult stands out. Just as 'A Dance to the Music of Time' opens with the indelible image of Widmerpool, clumsy, overbearing, yet a force of life that can't be stopped, trudging up a road, i ...more
Mike Moore
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
In comes the new generation, and they're every bit as messed up as the first. While they play a part with their stink bombs, sex cults, manslaughter and other shenanigans, this is still primarily the story of the generation soon to pass away. Or perhaps it's time to face the fact that this series has always been primarily about Kenneth Widmerpool.

This is a sad, strange thing to realize. Widmerpool is intensely unsympathetic. He's absurd, pathetic, miserable, confused, power-hungry, unfocused, an
May 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
With HEARING SECRET HARMONIES we reach the end of Anthony Powell's 12-novel series "A Dance to the Music of Time", which has followed narrator Nicholas Jenkins and his social circle for over five decades. As the novel opens, we are in 1968 after a gap of several years since the previous book. Jenkins and his wife host a caravan of hippies on their rural property. Widmerpool, whom Jenkins hasn't seen for a long while, returns and is caught up in the counterculture. Ultimately this leads to Widmer ...more
Glen Engel-Cox
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Glen by: Rich
Shelves: amazon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Mcangus
Dec 18, 2013 rated it liked it
In keeping with Powell's style, this isn't the typical end to a long series. He has maintained a diligent, dreamlike tone throughout the run of his twelve novels and that doesn't cease here. Indeed, man appears forever the wanderer in this final instalment. Some fall of the cliff in this search and others manage to find a suitable place to set up camp. What I liked about how Powell handled his characters is that he doesn't seem to be making strict moral judgements of their choices. Rather, he ac ...more
Simon Mcleish
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Originally published on my blog here in May 2000.

The final part of A Dance to the Music of Time concentrates on what has been an occasional theme until now, esoteric religion, as several characters become involved in what would probably today be described as a New Age cult. Most of the remaining long running characters (including the narrator, Nick Jenkins) are now in their sixties or seventies, and the title refers to both these elements - it is part of a quotation about being affected by mysti
Ian Brydon
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book brings Anthony Powell's majestic twelve volume sequence, 'A Dance to the Music of Time' to a triumphant close.

The sequence is clearly largely autobiographical, with narrator Nick Jenkins's life closely mirroring Powell's own, though, once again, despite the first person narration we learn precious little about the writer. His observations of his friends and acquaintances remain as acute and diverting as ever, though Jenkins himself remains an enigma.

Kenneth (now Lord) Widmerpool is as
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
A Dance to the Mu...: February 2019: Hearing Secret Harmonies 1 11 Feb 04, 2018 12:21PM  
2016: A Dance to ...: {December} Hearing Secret Harmonies 31 20 Dec 26, 2016 03:08PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Missing book cover 3 10 Jul 12, 2014 04:10AM  
  • Mountolive (The Alexandria Quartet #3)
  • No Laughing Matter
  • Tropic Of Ruislip
  • The Adventure of the Three Gables
  • The Harpole Report
  • Rodinsky's Room
  • Guerrillas
  • The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan
  • On The Black Hill
  • A Man Could Stand Up
  • Alms For Oblivion Vol I
  • Vein of Iron
  • 呼兰河传 (Chinese Edition)
  • The Gospel According to Mark (Pocket Canons, #8)
  • Towards the End of the Morning
  • Teahouse
  • My Search for Warren Harding
  • White Man Falling
Anthony Dymoke Powell 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".

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)
“In its vulgar way, a painstaking piece of work, although one must always remember—something often forgotten today—that because things are generally known, they are not necessarily the better for being written down, or publicly announced. Some are, some aren't. As in everything else, good sense, taste, art, all have their place. Saying you prefer to disregard art, taste, good sense, does not mean that those elements do not exist—it merely means you lack them yourself” 0 likes
“The autobiographer, for his part, is imprisoned in his own egotism. He must always be suspect. In contrast with the other two, the novelist is a god, creating his man, making him breathe and walk. The man, created in his own image, provides information about the god. In a sense you know more about Balzac and Dickens from their novels, than Rousseau and Casanova from their Confessions.” 0 likes
More quotes…