Friday, March 09, 2012

The Soldier’s Art: Book Eight of A Dance to the Music of Time (by Anthony Powell)

Reading the second volume about WWII, and now 20% of the way into the third one, I'm thinking some of this could have been condensed. Yet another new cast of characters is introduced, and yet the most enjoyable parts are those featuring old friends like Molly Jeavons, Widmerpool, or Stringham.

I love the sense of the toll war is taking and the fact that Powell isn't afraid to kill off some characters, but I the roman a clef aspects of this series mean that the narrator is actually not involved in any actual, exciting war. Powell is able to weave the war into the fabric of ordinary (or ordinary-ish life) in a way that seems new, but Nick is just a bureaucrat, who has yet to be involved in anything resembling an actual battle. I suppose this is a take on the wartime experience that is just as valid as the tales of heroism and battlefield exploits--honestly, I think it's just volume nine, which so far is just boring boring boring pointless bureaucracy and literally nothing but, that's seeping into this review.

"We paid the bill, went out into Regent Street. In the utter blackness, the tarts, strange luminous forms of nocturnal animal life, flickered the bulbs of their electric torches. From time to time one of them would play the light against her own face in self-advertisement, giving the effect of candles illuminating a holy picture in the shadows of a church."

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