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Preview — The Soldier's Art by Anthony Powell
The Soldier's Art
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.”
It should come as no surprise for the readers who follow the movements of the Dance that Anthony Powell likes to start each episode with an allegorical scene, a trigger for the memories of the past and a sort of preview of events to come. For the number eight novel, the simple act of Nick Jenkins buying a greatcoat at the start of 1941 is loaded with hidden messages and premonitions of danger. The first scene is a London tailor shop that specializes in costumes for the theatre.
One of these effi ...more
8.-- A SOLDIER'S ART.
Having left a longer time pass between reading this eighth volume and the previous ones, I was afraid it would take me a bit more effort to immerse myself in The Dance again. But no, Powell’s fluid and rhythmic prose very quickly drew back in again. It is a delight to read.
As the second book that takes place during the war, we are now deep into it; the Germans have occupied France and are bombing England. The volume ends around June 1941, when Hitler has invaded Russia. ...more
…behind the glass windows of a high display case, two headless trunks stood rigidly at attention. One of these effigies wore Harlequin’s diagonally spangled tights; the other, scarlet full-dress uniform of some infantry regiment, allegorical figures, so it seemed, symbolising dualisms of the antithetical stock-in-trade surrounding them… Civil and Military… Work and P...more
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards - the soldier's art;
One taste of the old time sets all to rights.
-- Robert Browning, "Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came"
It seems almost by accident my pacing of Powell's 12 volume A Dance to the Music of Time brings me to book 8 in August. I didn't plan it. I fall into Powell in fits and starts. ...more
‘What do you think of the news?’, he asked.
‘Well, it’s rather awful, sir. B was in my mess –‘
‘Oh, I don’t mean B,’ he said. ‘Haven’t you seen a paper or heard the wireless this morning? Germany’s invaded Russia.’
or, if you prefer,
Takes place: 1941, from early in year to June 22.
Jenkins approaching his mid-30s.
Book published: 1966. Anthony Powell was 60 years old.
Significant series characters (view spoiler)[bold that appear in ...more
When Nick goes to London on ...more
Anyone missing Kenneth Widmerpool until his final page appearance in "The Valley of Bones" can be reassured that he's back with a vengeance in "The Soldier's Art". For the first time in the series, Widmerpool has gained a role where he can exert power over others and engage in schemes to further his career. Needless to say this opportunity does not bode well for his subordinates who, in this volume, happen to include both Nick Jenkins and Charles S ...more
This book has a more somber feel to it, as death claims some of Nick's family and friends. I am so in the grip of this work that I have gone straight on to the next volume.
It was published in 1966, and touches on themes of separation and unanticipated loss.
Its sequel is "The Military Philosophers."
4* A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1)
4* A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)
4* The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3)
4* At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4)
4* Casanova ...more
"This is extraordinary."
"You turning up here."
"What makes you think so?"
"Let's get off the main road."
"If you like."
We went down into a kind of alley-way, leading to a block of office buildings or factory works, now closed for the night.
"What's been happening to you, Charles?"
"As you see, I've become a waiter in F Mess. I always used to wonder what it felt like to be a waiter. Now I know with immense precision."
"But how did it all come about?"
"How does anything ...more
As ou expect some of the characters are lost during the war and even more are added.
It's the scope of the series and how Powell keeps the characters straight even through the marriages, divorces, births and deaths.
I have remarakably little to say on this novel, the 8th in Powell's series. We're now into the depths of WWII, which impacts on the lives of Jenkins, Stringham, the Lovells, and many others. Heights of both Powell's comedic and delicate tragic skills achieved. The real success here is Widmerpool - perhaps the only character to have appeared in every novel thus far, alongsi ...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".