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A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement

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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,879 ratings  ·  286 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 ...more
Paperback, 718 pages
Published May 31st 1995 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1955)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,879 ratings  ·  286 reviews

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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
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Vit Babenco
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 conf
Tea Jovanović
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Po ovom serijalu knjiga, snimljena je i sjajna britanska serija... Davno se prikazivala i kod nas...
see comment explanation below

Have now re-read the first of these three novels (A Question of Upbringing, A Buyer's Market, The Acceptance World), on the way (hopefully) to re-reading the whole series. The twelve volumes of Powell's Dance was really one of the reading highlights of my life.

I've written a few words to review Powell's first season of the dance, Spring, more than once. The earliest version had a personal note in it, something like the reconstruction of it as I now recall, which occa
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.

Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 Strobing Foxtrot Stars on a Huge Dancefloor Go to this Roman-Fleuve

I took much delight in this fascinating and woefully underappreciated roman-fleuve (a long sequence of novels together making up a single work) particularly when reflecting upon it as a dance to "the music of time" in which "partners disappear only to reappear once again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle." A Dance to the Music of Time, composed of four movements of three novels each, takes place between 1921 through 19
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought of Plato's Cave during the very first page. I was reminded of Brideshead Revisited as Nick the narrator visits the home of a friend with a rich mother (admittedly, that's based on superficialities). I couldn't help but think of M. Swann while reading of Nick's childhood memories of Mr. Deacon: the child had heard his parents discuss the man and he thus becomes a "mysterious figure" to the narrator.

I realize I'm not catching many of Powell's literary and painterly allusions.

I hope to ha
David Lentz
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“Wisdom is the power to admit that you cannot understand and judge the people in their entirety.”
― Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement


The First Movement (**SPRING**) contains the following three novels:

1. A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) -- read January 28, 2016

2. A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2) -- read February 1, 2016

3. The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3) -- read February 9 , 2016

I read these three n
Иногда меня спрашивают: "Катя, что почитать?"

Однажды мы с подругой чуть не описались, составляя список чтения для ее знакомого тренера, который хотел "со смыслом, ну, такое, знаешь, чтобы подумать можно было, обсудить". "Загадочное ночное убийство собаки"? Ты чо, слишком много слов в названии! "Три товарища"? Слишком много страниц! "Американская пастораль"? Ты издеваешься? Коэльо? А там хоть предложения короткие? А ты сама читала? Ну и вот!

Я уже и не помню, чем в итоге успокоились. "Чайкой Джона

“ 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 slipp
David M
Now that I've read the first 700+ pages, I can honestly say I have no strong reaction one way or the other but still feel compelled to keep reading for some vague reason. This might be one of those novels that only really starts to cast a spell after the first 2,000 pages or so. When you think about how excruciatingly long life is, all books seem pitifully short.

In case you missed it, the literary event of the season has been Perry Anderson arguing in the London Review of Books - at e
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

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
Adriana Scarpin
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adriana by: Manny
Shelves: inglesa, owned
A verdade é que todas aquelas salsichas e bananas espalhadas na cara (!?!) do início de A Question of Upbringing me fez lembrar do quanto gosto do chá com bolo do pequeno Marcel. Mas se eu quiser tentar gostar desse livro, vou ter que esquecer que Proust existe e tentar me concentrar e pensar na obra por si só, já que Em Busca do Tempo Perdido sofre do mesmo mal dos grandes amores, uma vez experimentado tudo que lhe é subsequente parece ínfimo, pálido e sem gosto, mas nem por isso deixaremos de ...more
May 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-paper
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
I read ‘A dance to the music of time’ about 20 years ago and having recently enjoyed a Proust or Powell series of articles in the LRB by Perry Anderson I decided to re-acquaint myself on Audible with Simon Vance reading.

I’ve had a long day in the kitchen stocking and currying turkey remains, but I hardly noticed as Simon Vance read through volume three of this first section - witty and genuinely funny, a perfect listen for kitchen antics. Roll on the next 3 volumes.

This first section ends with
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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,
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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.

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

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

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

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

(Dates ar
Gary Lee
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
carl  theaker
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to carl by: R.
12 novellas, oh, about 3000 pages, covering 50 years of London life with the who's who, socialites, writers, b-list celebrities, politicos, and historical figures all thrown in, most of whom would
be unknown to any contemporary Londoner let alone the rest of us, written by a snooty erudite, somehow it all works.

If you're in it for the long haul, I suggest an 'Invitation to the Dance' by Hillary Spurling, a guide and glossary to all that is about to appear before you.

The first 3 books contained in
Timothy Hallinan
May 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2011
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.
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Sheard
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
A Question of Upbringing is the first novel of a twelve-novel sequence called A Dance to the Music of Time. It has been described as the English equivalent of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and its books have been called quintessentially English novels.

Nicholas Jenkins attends an upper-class boarding school (based on Powell’s own experience at Eton), where he befriends two older students, Charles Stringham and Peter Templer.
Separated into four chapters, each section follows Jenkins
Mark Joyce
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A book of this length will inevitably divide opinion but I’m firmly with those who consider it a subtle, under-stated masterpiece worthy of comparison with The Great Gatsby and Brideshead Revisited. It goes into much greater detail than either of those two books on the social dynamics of debutant balls, country house parties and London private members’ clubs and as such may try the patience of those with a limited appetite for that kind of thing. But, like Fitzgerald and Waugh, Powell is really ...more
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lp2000s
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
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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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)
“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.” 11 likes
“His mastery of the hard-luck story was of a kind never achieved by persons not wholly concentrated on themselves.” 5 likes
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