Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Books do Furnish a Room: Book Ten of A Dance to the Music of Time (by Anthony Powell)

We're back to the post-war period with plenty of good interpersonal drama, especially between Widmerpool and his wife. (Even if it is, as usual, stretching credulity for our narrator Nick to just happen to be around for some of these events.) I think anything I write here about these books is clearly for an audience of one--not like anybody's going to suddenly pick up Volume 10. I think it was worth slogging through 8 and 9 though to get to this one, personally.

One weird thing: in the last volume, the narrator's wife had a son. Not only do we barely hear anything at all about his wife, we've just spent two books without having the son appear "on screen" at all, and not even learning what his name is! Then 3/4 of the way through this book Nick's all "oh and my wife was about to have another baby." It's really externally focused--I think because Powell was basing it so much on his own life, and he wanted to write about the characters he knew and who surrounded him, rather than the character of himself. It's this weird curtain of privacy... strange. But anyway, a good volume!

There's also a terrific discussion of literature courtesy of the character X Trapnel:

"Do you call Hemingway's impotent good guy naturalistic? Think what Dostoevsky would have made of him... Hemingway would never allow a hero of his to be made a fool of. To that extent he's not naturalistic. Most forms of naturalistic happening are expressed in grotesque irrational trivialities, not tight-lipped heroisms."

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