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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, partly because (being in that respect like Wyndham Lewis’s Tarr, for whom ‘the spring was anonymous’) I thought a work much concerned with botany sounded off my beat ...

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 ...

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 Anthony Powell 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-upholstered departure lounge to sky-blue-upholstered departure lounge; and being jostled, and jostling, on this occasion in the very burly company of the young men and women of the Scottish Gymnastics Display Team, and an elderly couple, both in wheelchairs, and a man tattooed from neck to wrist, and possibly lower, who was working his way loudly through a large box of Quality Street ...

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 Anthony Powell 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 novels, A Question of Upbringing. Intervening, the war years provide his main subject, and one sees how closely – the Welsh regiment in Northern Ireland, command of the Defence Platoon at Div HQ, transfer to Military Intelligence and liaison with Allied and Neutral military attachés at the War Office – Mr Powell’s own story has been anticipated by Jenkins in the novels ...

Being all right, and being wrong

Barbara Everett, 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, Anthony Powell 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. The five hundred pages to which they both run are mainly literary journalism, with some illuminating essays on the social-historical from Powell, and vivid side-glances at painters and painting from Raine ...

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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... author-hero is said to be a ‘chapter of accidents’, and in the title and precarious plot of Anthony Powell’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 English ...

Villain’s Talk

John Bayley, 17 April 1986

The Fisher King 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 434 59926 3
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... humour, because we can see the Pym world working away beside another nebulous and unrealised one. Anthony Powell 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 impregnable, and yet the ghostly presence ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Anthony Powell’s artists, 26 January 2006

... a position of honour in Dancing to the Music of Time, an exhibition about the life and work of Anthony Powell. 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 (representing the seasons), Time (whose lyre provides ...

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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... level. It is here that his achievement as a novelist is so different from that of his contemporary Anthony Powell. 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 ...

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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... 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 satisfied. ‘Scratch an invisible narrator, get an ...

Becoming a girl

John Bayley, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: Writer 
by James Booth.
Harvester, 192 pp., £9.95, March 1992, 0 7450 0769 4
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... artistic effect under the heading of the pornographic (‘everything he does is so artistic,’ as Anthony Powell 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 enough, would not qualify; certainly not in 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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... Amis has been encased in an obese 995 pages from Zachary Leader. Hilary Spurling’s Life of Anthony Powell 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 the final quarter of his life to the briefest of ...

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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... the half-way stage. Already its scale and substance begin to rival the sequences of C.P. Snow and Anthony Powell. 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 of England, are unthinkable except as marginal ...

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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... him’. Creating an imaginary fresco of King Candaules awaiting his wife on the nuptial couch, Anthony Powell 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 wife’s nakedness belongs exclusively to him, to ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 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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... ambitious: he has his eye on posterity. Galsworthy and Snow have left their sagas behind them, Anthony Powell 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 with the children of Raven’s repertory ...

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