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Every Rusty Hint

Ian Sansom: Anthony Powell

21 October 2004
Anthony PowellA Life 
by Michael Barber.
Duckworth, 338 pp., £20, July 2004, 0 7156 3049 0
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... I happened to read Michael Barber’s rather off-beat and amusing biography of AnthonyPowell while waiting for a delayed easyJet flight from Stansted to Belfast and enduring all the usual privations of short-haul, low-cost flying: being shunted from gate to gate, and from sky-blue ...

Standing at ease

Robert Taubman

1 May 1980
Faces in My Time 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 230 pp., £8.50, March 1980, 0 434 59924 7
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... At the beginning of this volume AnthonyPowell marries into the Pakenham family, which has some resemblance, he discloses, to the Tollands in his sequence of novels A Dance to the Music of Time. By the end, he has written the first of those ...
12 July 1990
Miscellaneous Verdicts: Writings on Writers 1946-1989 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 501 pp., £20, May 1990, 9780434599288
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Haydn and the Valve Trumpet 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 498 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 571 15084 5
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... Men of different generations and presumably social worlds, AnthonyPowell and Craig Raine aren’t much alike as writers. But the novelist’s Miscellaneous Verdicts and the poet’s Haydn and the Valve Trumpet are both very good, solid selections of occasional writing ...

Chances are

Michael Wood

7 July 1983
O, How the wheel becomes it! 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 143 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 434 59925 5
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Brilliant Creatures 
by Clive James.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 224 02122 2
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Pomeroy 
by Gordon Williams.
Joseph, 233 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2259 3
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... open to us!’ The thought is echoed in the closing pages of Clive James’s Brilliant Creatures, whose author-hero is said to be a ‘chapter of accidents’, and in the title and precarious plot of AnthonyPowell’s O, How the wheel becomes it! The wheel is Ophelia’s, and suggests the incessant circlings of fortune, but quickly, in Powell’s hands, comes to hint at roulette and the dodgy hazards of ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Anthony Powell’s artists

26 January 2006
... the Music of Time has been taken down into the basement. It can be found there until 5 February, holding a position of honour in Dancing to the Music of Time, an exhibition about the life and work of AnthonyPowell. The painting is powerful but decorous. Apollo’s chariot, high in the sky, drives away the clouds of night. The daylight it brings falls only indirectly on the figures below: four dancers ...
17 April 1986
The Fisher King 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 434 59926 3
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... him marry the heroine at the end. This actually increases by contrast the charm of the work and its humour, because we can see the Pym world working away beside another nebulous and unrealised one. AnthonyPowell has always been marvellously adroit at making his own world and characters and suggesting our absolute recognition of them at the same time. In The Fisher King the artifice of its own world is ...

Brooke’s Benefit

Anthony Powell

16 April 1981
... In 1949, a moment when I was editing the novel pages of the Times Literary Supplement, a book came in called A Mine of Serpents, author Jocelyn Brooke. The name was familiar on account of a previous work, The Military Orchid, which had appeared the year before, and received unusually approving notices. I had not read The Military Orchid, partly because there was a good deal to do reviewing other books ...

Extraordinary People

Anthony Powell

4 June 1981
The Lyttelton – Hart-Davis Letters 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 185 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 7195 3770 3
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... When housekeeping was still difficult after the second war we used to lunch quite often at the Chester Arms, which stood nearly opposite where we lived in Regent’s Park. The pub was run by a delightful family, a handsome widow and her two pretty daughters. We once took an American to luncheon there. Could he have been an American officer? I can’t remember. When I remarked that it was lucky to find ...

Voyeur

Paul Delany

5 May 1983
To Keep the Ball Rolling: The Memoirs of Anthony Powell. Vol. IV: The strangers all are gone 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 208 pp., £9.50, May 1982, 0 434 59941 7
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... Music of Time comes to the reader by courtesy of Nick Jenkins, that non-participant observer whose presence never seems to make any impact on the endless round of social gatherings he attends. When Powell began to publish his memoirs, fans of Dance hoped that the mystery of what Jenkins was really like might be revealed; now that the memoirs are completed, it is clear that these hopes will never be ...

Mr Toad

John Bayley

20 October 1994
Evelyn Waugh 
by Selina Hastings.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 600 pp., £20, October 1994, 1 85619 223 7
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... no real interest in the individuals who actually have to make up such a society, even at the highest level. It is here that his achievement as a novelist is so different from that of his contemporary AnthonyPowell. Both were influenced by cinema, but while the early Waugh film is run at manic speed the Powell is reduced to slow motion. Powell’s narrator spends a lot of time ‘reflecting’ on the ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell​ v. Proust

19 July 2018
Anthony PowellDancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... received two thousand from Norman Sherry. These are huge tomes. Even such a minuscule figure as Kingsley Amis has been encased in an obese 995 pages from Zachary Leader. Hilary Spurling’s Life of AnthonyPowell breaks with this pattern. The longest-lived of all significant novelists of the last century, his 94 years are covered in fewer than 450 pages of text. In part, that’s because she confines ...
25 March 1993
Philip Larkin: Writer 
by James Booth.
Harvester, 192 pp., £9.95, March 1992, 0 7450 0769 4
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... case. At least with quite a number. Although the obvious danger would then be including almost every artistic effect under the heading of the pornographic (‘everything he does is so artistic,’ as AnthonyPowell remarked of Lawrence’s gamekeeper, quoting a song of Marie Lloyd’s), it might be tempting to construct a General Theory of Pornography in Art along these lines. Lawrence himself, oddly ...

Female Heads

John Bayley

27 October 1988
Woman to Woman: Female Friendship in Victorian Fiction 
by Tess Cosslett.
Harvester, 211 pp., £29.95, July 1988, 0 7108 1015 6
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Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century 
by John Mullan.
Oxford, 261 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 19 812865 7
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The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney. Vol. I: 1768-1773 
edited by Lars Troide.
Oxford, 353 pp., £45, June 1988, 9780198125815
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... or design, to a world in which he has no being. Yet all the time he knows she is ‘hurrying to join him’. Creating an imaginary fresco of King Candaules awaiting his wife on the nuptial couch, AnthonyPowell observes that the expectant monarch has in him ‘something of all men’, his spouse absorbed in her own rituals ‘something of all women’. In the legend, Candaules dies for thinking his ...
19 July 1984
Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... is playing in a different league from the D.M. Thomas Academicals and the Archer All-Stars. He is more ambitious: he has his eye on posterity. Galsworthy and Snow have left their sagas behind them, AnthonyPowell rests on his laurels, but Simon Raven soldiers on. His new saga is to be called The Firstborn of Egypt and we may presume a reference to Exodus 12, 29. The forthcoming novels will be concerned ...

Thirty Years Ago

Patrick Parrinder

18 July 1985
Still Life 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 358 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7011 2667 1
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Wales’ Work 
by Robert Walshe.
Secker, 279 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 9780436561450
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... are promised, though it seems likely that this chronicle of middle-class English life has reached the half-way stage. Already its scale and substance begin to rival the sequences of C.P. Snow and AnthonyPowell. Byatt’s view of the middle class centres on the Potter family: Northern, Nonconformist, and professionally preoccupied with teaching, writing, and caring for others. The poor, in this view ...

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