Hearing Secret Harmonies
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.”
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
The final two volumes, Temporary Kings and Hearing Secret Harmonies, each moving th ...more
The riotous sixties are around and about… a general shift in mass consciousness, emancipat ...more
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
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
Not surprisingly, Narrator Nick Jenkins’ own ...more
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
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.
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
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
This is a sad, strange thing to realize. Widmerpool is intensely unsympathetic. He's absurd, pathetic, miserable, confused, power-hungry, unfocused, an ...more
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
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
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
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".