2016: A Dance to the Music of Time discussion

Books Do Furnish a Room (A Dance to the Music of Time, #10)
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Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
For discussion or comments about book ten...


Nigeyb Books Do Furnish a Room (1971) is the tenth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time

Books Do Furnish a Room follows straight on from the preceding trio of war volumes (The Valley of Bones (1964), The Soldier's Art (1966), and The Military Philosophers (1968)) and takes place in the immediate post-war period of 1946 and 1947. It is strange, and informative, to read an evocation of the atmosphere of post-war austerity in England, a period that doesn't appear to feature too often in literature (in contrast to the pre-War years and the war itself).

As the title suggests, Books Do Furnish a Room is about publishing, and specifically the publishers, Quiggins and Craggs, including their new literary magazine Fission which Nick Jenkins joins. Plenty of pre-war characters reappear, along with a younger bohemian crowd most notably the up-and-coming novelist X. Trapnel (famously based upon a literary hero of mine Julian Maclaren-Ross). From what I know of Julian Maclaren-Ross, X. Trapnel appears to be a fairly faithful rendition of his personality, and his strengths and foibles.

At the start of Books Do Furnish a Room we discover that narrator Nick Jenkins is writing a study of Robert Burton author of "The Anatomy of Melancholy", which was first published in 1621. I had never heard of Burton, or his book, but was inspired to find out more. The full title of The Anatomy of Melancholy is "The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, Opened and Cut Up" which I think gives a good indication of what the reader might expect. Nick Jenkins makes numerous small references to Burton throughout this volume which doubtless adds yet another layer of enjoyment for Robert Burton aficionados.

After the formality of the war years, Books Do Furnish a Room contains more humour and Anthony Powell seems to consciously add in more comedy including one of the most funniest accounts of a funeral I have ever read.

Pamela Flitton, who we first encounter in The Military Philosophers, continues to live up to her billing as the ultimate femme fatale and, once again, wreaks havoc. She is a wonderful literary creation.

Meanwhile, our narrator, Nick Jenkins, now in middle age returns to both his university and his school in this volume which provokes reacquaintance with some old characters, and reflections on his younger self.

As with previous volumes, this book is funny, wise, compelling and addictive. Taken as a whole, A Dance to the Music of Time is really something special. Now, with only two volumes left to read, my heart is heavy at the prospect of finishing this magnificent work of literature. It is one of the best things I've ever had the pleasure of reading and I will be revisiting these books again before too long.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Diane Barnes Thank you, Nigeyb. I can't get to this one for a week or two, but now I'm looking forward to it more than ever. I feel exactly as you comment in your conclusion.


message 4: by Teresa (last edited Sep 30, 2016 10:50AM) (new)

Teresa Nigeyb wrote: "Books Do Furnish a Room (1971) is the tenth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time Books Do Furnish a Room follows straight on from the ..."

I finished this last night, so your review is timely for me, Nigeyb.

I planned to look up the prototype for Trapnel (I figured there had to be one), so thanks for that info. He is a great character, as is Pam.

I haven't read the Burton, but I am familiar with it and I enjoyed the references to it.

I also enjoyed the humor you mention, especially with the titles of the books many of the characters are writing. Lots of satire there, and wit and sarcasm in general.


message 5: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I haven't yet begun, but this does sound good.


Renee M | 38 comments I'm a few chapters in. Lots of old characters reappear again, including Widmerpoole entering the world of publishing. The overall tone seems a little more biting. But I'm not sure if that's reflective of Nick's age or "the" age. So far the women get a little more dialogue time.

I'm struck by the fact that several characters are shown as still visiting their old teachers from the first book. Over the course of the series, they've done this and sometimes have made business connections through these "salons." The American in me is wondering if this gives them a certain advantage beyond the advantage of going to a "good" school.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I hope to start next week on book 10. "Infinite Jest" is taking me longer than expected.

By now I know what to expect from Powell, and I am sure it will be just as good as the first nine.


message 8: by Jonathan (last edited Oct 04, 2016 01:49PM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I've finished ch.2 and I'm glad to say that it's a great read so far. I'd seen parts of reviews of these later ones which suggested they're not as good as previous volumes.

Ch.2, is especially good. I found the clash of personalities at the funeral very entertaining as they're all so different from one another.


message 9: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments 'Death Comes for the Archbishop'?! A cocktail named after a Willa Cather novel? Presumably it's made-up.


message 10: by Teresa (last edited Oct 04, 2016 03:14PM) (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "'Death Comes for the Archbishop'?! A cocktail named after a Willa Cather novel? Presumably it's made-up."

Powell is credited with making it up, here: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

and here:

http://ask.metafilter.com/90523/Ficti...

But then there's this:

http://www.domesticdaddy.net/2010/06/... Read the comment under the name 'Piers Torday'.

There's also this, but the show could've taken the name from Powell:

"Just had a Death Comes For The Archbishop, after watching it being dunk on Blandings. Gin, Brandy, Sherry, Port, Pudding Wine and a liberal amount of bitters. That's the recipe as given, I'll let you devise your own measures, I did." http://able2know.org/topic/201957-2


message 11: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Thanks Teresa. It is a good name for a cocktail.


Renee M | 38 comments A very good name, indeed. I wish I'd have thought if it first!

I finished over a long weekend and really liked this one. It feels more like a novel though than some of the other sections.


message 13: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I know we shouldn't necessarily be reading these books as autobiography but given that it's accepted that Trapnel is based on Maclaren-Ross does anyone know if Alaric Kydd is based on anyone in particular?


message 14: by Jonathan (last edited Oct 08, 2016 10:04AM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I've just finished Vol. 10 and it feels like it's a natural place to end the whole series, especially with it ending up at Nick's old school. I wonder if this was where Powell intending it to end initially. Just looking at the following novels, which are set ten years and twenty years after this one, it looks like they may have been tagged on to the series. I guess we shall see though.

I thought BDFAR was just as good, if not better, than many of the earlier volumes.


message 15: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "...does anyone know if Alaric Kydd is based on anyone in particular?"

I don't. I also went looking to see who Evadne Clapham might be based on, but came up empty. I was intrigued that she had changed her writing style based on what Ada Leintwardine had written.


message 16: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments This is such an enjoyable "chapter" in the overall Dance. I can't imagine anyone who loves books and reading not delighting in all the ins and outs of Nick's glimpses into the publishing world. Of course all of the personalities involved only add to the wonderful-ness.


Diane Barnes I just finished this installment, and was happy to get past the war years, although the post war years in London seemed rather sad and gloomy. I must admit I missed Stringham and Templar, as things really seemed to get more interesting whenever they showed up.
It's also my opinion that Widmerpool and Pamela deserve each other.


message 18: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Diane wrote: "I just finished this installment, and was happy to get past the war years, although the post war years in London seemed rather sad and gloomy. I must admit I missed Stringham and Templar, as things..."

I'm almost through this segment. From what I have read, seen and heard of post-war England, it was a gloomy place, They were on rationing and cutbacks for much, much longer than we were in the US. They were rebuilding in the 1960s. Life was difficult--and we aren't reading about those people who had it the hardest.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I was a bit slow this month, but I did manage to finish this great addition to the overall Dance sequence.
I thought Trapnel is one the best characters in the whole series.

Looking forward to November.


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