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Hearing Secret Harmonies (A Dance to the Music of Time #12)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  393 Ratings  ·  55 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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Algernon
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
...more
Whitaker
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
Ted
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
Nigeyb
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
...more
Darwin8u
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
...more
Eleanor
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.
Laura
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
...more
Realini
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
...more
Bruce
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
Arukiyomi
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
...more
Mary
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
Corey
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.
Jason
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rob
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
Nicola
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Christopher
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Webster Bull
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have just completed Powell's 12-volume cycle, "A Dance to the Music of Time." While my attention flagged many times during more than 3,000 pages, I had so much enjoyment along the way that a voice in my head is now whispering, Start over from the beginning. I have never read anything quite like this "Dance," and I don't want the music to stop.

Starting at an English boarding school and focusing initially on three of his friends there, narrator Nicholas Jenkins introduces us to 300 characters i
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Laura
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“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 a keener perception for the authenticities of mythology, not only of the traditional sort, but ...more
Geoff Wooldridge
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
The final book of the series A Dance To the Music of Time takes the reader to the winter years of Jenkins life, around the mid to late 1960s.

Continuing with its focus on the lives of characters connected through profession, family and social circles, we see the next generation emerging into adulthood and the final demise of some familiar characters.

The book maintains an association with the English upper middle classes and the arts, particularly literature, painting. music and academic endeavour
...more
Nancy
Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it
What a marvellous trip this has been! Powell's 12-novel A Dance to the Music of Time series has been one of the most interesting reading experiences I've encountered.

The books take the reader from the early years of the 20th Century through the 1970's. Through the narrator's eyes, we are part of a world morphing from debutante dinners and country house weekends through the Second World War and on to the hippy cults of the 70's.

Many of the characters are introduced in Book 1 and float in and out
...more
June Louise
Yes!!!!! After just short of 3,600 pages, I have completed all 12 volumes of Dance To The Music Of Time. I'm proud and feel I have achieved something in doing this, but yet I am sad that there are no more.

Hearing Secret Harmonies has to be my least favourite of all the novels though; for Widmerpool to be a Peer one moment, to a University Chancellor the next (apparently happy for students to express themselves violently), to being a mad cult member, just seems a little too strange an ending. In
...more
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2016: A Dance to ...: {December} Hearing Secret Harmonies 31 20 Dec 26, 2016 03:08PM  
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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)

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