Dance to the Music of Time: Fourth Movement

Overview


Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art. In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and...
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Overview


Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art. In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books "provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.). The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses.

In this climactic volume of A Dance to the Music of Time, Nick Jenkins describes a world of ambition, intrigue, and dissolution. England has won the war, but now the losses, physical and moral, must be counted. Pamela Widmerpool sets a snare for the young writer Trapnel, while her husband suffers private agony and public humiliation. Set against a background of politics, business, high society, and the counterculture in England and Europe, this magnificent work of art sounds an unforgettable requiem for an age.

Includes these novels:
Books Do Furnish a Room
Temporary Kings
Hearing Secret Harmonies

"Anthony Powell is the best living English novelist by far. His admirers are addicts, let us face it, held in thrall by a magician."—Chicago Tribune

"A book which creates a world and explores it in depth, which ponders changing relationships and values, which creates brilliantly living and diverse characters and then watches them grow and change in their milieu. . . . Powell's world is as large and as complex as Proust's."—Elizabeth Janeway, New York Times

"One of the most important works of fiction since the Second World War. . . . The novel looked, as it began, something like a comedy of manners; then, for a while, like a tragedy of manners; now like a vastly entertaining, deeply melancholy, yet somehow courageous statement about human experience."—Naomi Bliven, New Yorker

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Powell's epic of 20th-century England is actually composed of 12 novels divided into four "movements," although they can be read individually as separate works. The novels were originally published from the 1950s through the 1970s.
C. David Benson
The most sophisticated chronicle of modern life we have. -- New Republic
Elizabeth Janeway
A book which creates a world and explores it in depth, which ponders challenging relationships and values, which creates brilliantly living and diverse characters and then watches them grow and change in their milieu. . . .Powell's world is as large and complex as Proust's. -- The New York Times
Arthur Schlesinger
"A series of intertwining stories, in mood at once hilarious, raffish and melancholy....The reader who likes to watch history unfold as social comedy while he savors the astringent of the best English prose is urged to immerse himself in the works and this astute and enchanting writing."
--Life Magazine
Bernard Bergonzi
"A comic masterpiece, and a major achievement in post-war English fiction."
--The Guardian
Elizabeth Janeway
"A book which creates a world and explores it in depth, which creates brilliantly living and diverse characters and then watches them grow and change.....Powel's world is as large and complex as Proust's."
--New York Times
Naomi Bliven
"One of the most important works of fiction since the second world war....a vastly entertaining, deeply melancholy, yet somehow courageous statement about human experience."
--The New Yorker
Christopher Porterfield
"The way in which Powell invests the whole of the book with parallels, variations and ironic reversals of this legend is wonderously rich and subtle."
--Time
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226677187
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Series: Dance the Movement of Time Series
  • Pages: 804
  • Sales rank: 429,933
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Anthony Powell's work includes Miscellaneous Verdicts and Under Review, both available from the University of Chicago Press.
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 24, 2012

    The End of the Saga

    If you’ve enjoyed the first three movements of A Dance to the Music of Time, no doubt you will want to read the Fourth Movement. It covers the period from the late 40s to about 1970 and introduces some memorable new characters to the story. Of course, Fate ensures that Kenneth Widmerpool will continue to cross paths with Nicholas Jenkins, the narrator.

    As with the other movements, the three sections were originally three separate novels. The time gap between the original novels is about a decade in this movement, whereas the other movements seemed to have no discernible gap between sections.

    The first section, “Books Do Furnish A Room” introduces us to an alcoholic man of letters named X Trapnel, whose affair with Pamela Widmerpool costs him his masterpiece. In “Temporary Kings”, most of the action occurs in Venice at a literary gathering, and again Pamela is the star of the proceedings. In the last section, “Hearing Secret Harmonies”, we meet Scorpio Murtlock, a Manson-like figure, who bewitches Widmerpool.

    I should also mention that this Movement that differs most from the film based upon it.

    Coming to the end of such a series of novels is inevitably a sad experience. The reader cannot help pitying poor Widmerpool and marveling at his strange journey. He remains one of the more fascinating characters of 20th-century fiction.

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    Posted November 11, 2008

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    Posted April 29, 2009

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