11 October 2017

#150 Ageing

In the seven years or so that had passed since I had last seen him, Sir Magnus Donners had grown not so much older in appearances, as less like a human being. He now resembled an animated tailor's dummy, one designed to recommend second-hand, though immensely discreet, clothes (if the suit he was wearing could be regarded as a sample) adapted to the taste of distinguished men no longer young. Jerky movements, like those of a marionette – perhaps indicating all was not absolutely well with his physical system – added to the impression of an outsize puppet that had somehow escaped from its box and begun to mix with real people, who were momentarily taken in by the extraordinary conviction of its mechanism.

Anthony Powell, The Military Philosophers
Contributed by Karen Langley

10 September 2017

#149 The Narrator

I occasionally get asked specific questions about the events of the narrative, and always point out that the story is, so to speak, merely "told over the dinner table", the Narrator only knows what he guesses or is revealed to him.

Anthony Powell in a letter to Laurie Adams Frost, 19 August 1987
Contributed by Laurie Adams Frost

01 August 2017

#148 Narrative Development

Powell creates a fictional memoirist (Nick) and Dance is an imaginative creation and depiction of his memory. Nick has to order his memories and interrogate them sequentially. Thus rather than plot organising the narrative, character interaction drives narrative development.

David Martin Jones & Lana Starkey in their paper at the Anthony Powell Conference, York, April 2016
Contributed by Keith Marshall

02 July 2017

#147 James Joyce

One of Joyce's most valuable bequests to writers is that none of them ever need to write a novel like Ulysses again; a benefaction unhappily sometimes disregarded, especially in the US. One feels that Joyce, even if pretty able, is not quite in the Proust, Dostoevsky, even Balzac, class; useful to be learnt from, but not to be imitated [...] His obsession with himself, paying a good dividend in certain respects, was a handicap in others, narrowing the sphere of vision. As regards the novel itself, one wishes the Brothel scene was done in the same manner as the Martello Tower. I feel certain Joyce simply found himself unable to bring that off, falling back faute de mieux on "experimental" methods, not because those really gave a better picture. Perhaps it might be argued this stuck closer to the Ulysses myth.

Anthony Powell, Journals 1982-1986, Friday 20 June 1986
Contributed by Peter Kislinger

29 May 2017

#146 Pepys Pastiche

So about noon we came to Dogdene, and I was fain to see the house, and that part newly builded whereof Dr Wren did formerly hold converse with me, telling me here was one of the first mansion houses of England contrived as a nobleman's seat rather than a keep moated for warfare. My Lord Sleaford is yet in town, where 'tis said he doth pay court to my Lady Castlemaine, at which the King is not a little displeased, 'tho 'twas thought she had long since lost her place. The Housekeeper was mighty civil, and showed us the Great Hall and stately Galleries, and the picture by P Veronese that my Lord's grandfather did bring with him out of Italy, a most rare and noble thing. Then to the Gardens and Green Houses, where I did marvel to see the quickening of the Sensitive Plant. And so to the Still Room, where a great black maid offered a brave glass of metheglin, and I did have some merry talk with her begging her to show me a painted closet whereof the Housekeeper had spoken, yet had we not seen. Thither the bold wench took me readily enough, where I did kiss her twice or thrice and toyed wantonly with her. I perceive that she would not have denied me que je voudray, yet was I afeared and time was lacking. At which afterwards I was troubled, lest she should speak of what I had done, and her fellows make game of me when we were gone on our road.

Anthony Powell; At Lady Molly's
Contributed by, inter alia, Keith Marshall