20 April 2017

#145 Self Interest

True interest in yourself is comparatively rare, sharply to be differentiated from mere egotism and selfishness; characteristics often immoderately developed in persons not in the least interested in themselves intellectually or objectively. Indeed not everyone can stand the strain of gazing down too long into the personal crater, with its scene of Hieronymus Bosch activities taking place in the depths.

Anthony Powell; To Keep the Ball Rolling
Contributed by Bruce Fleming

25 February 2017

#144 Fiction Style

Compared with Waugh, Powell is not a mythologiser, and there is nothing in his fiction comparable to the recurring image of the doomed gentleman that I have tried to trace in Waugh's novels. Although Powell is acutely interested in the past he does not lament it; change and even decay are seen as inevitable and something to be endured with as good a grace as possible, since, whatever happens, life goes on.

Bernard Bergonzi; Critical Quarterly; Spring 1969
In tribute to Prof. Bergonzi who died recently
Contributed by Keith Marshall

27 January 2017

#143 Robert Burton

Burton himself says he suffered from melancholy ... At Oxford, when plagued with melancholy, Burton, who seems always to have enjoyed a joke, used to go down to the bridge over the river, and listen to the bargemen swearing at each other. That would always make him laugh, and at once feel better.

Anthony Powell, article "Black Humour" about Robert Burton (author of The Anatomy of Melancholy) in Radio Times; 7 May 1977; reproduced in Miscellaneous Verdicts
Contributed by Levi Stahl

17 December 2016

#142 Snowmen

But if the consolation for life is art, what may the artist expect from life?
An incident mentioned quite casually in Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Architects, Painters and Sculptors always seems to me worth recalling. It teaches several lessons: that if you want something done get the best executant available to do it; that minor jobs are often worth taking on; that duration in time should not necessarily be the criterion in producing a work of art.
Vasari says that on a winter day in Florence, when snow was deep on the ground, one of the Medici sent for Michaelangelo to build a snowman in the courtyard of the Medici palace. Notwithstanding those (like Constant Lambert) who dislike the High Renaissance one can scarcely doubt that the finest snowman on record took shape.

Anthony Powell; The Strangers All Are Gone
Contributed by Pictures in Powell

07 November 2016

#141 Pedigrees

The pedigree of Lewis of Harpton, on the other hand, is to be found in Dwnn's Visitations of Wales and elsewhere. Dwnn shows this Lewis descent as left-handed in the 15th century, though it should be borne in mind that in mediaeval Wales such irregularity would not be regarded with undue dismay; indeed if any dismay at all.

AD Powell, "The Powell Descent from Llewelyn Crûgeryr and the Princes of Deheubarth", Transactions Radnorshire Society, 31 (1961), 3-17
Contributed by Keith Marshall