'A landmark biography' The Times, Books of the Year
The long-awaited portrait of a literary master from one of our generation's greatest biographers
Anthony Powell: the literary genius who gave us A Dance to the Music of Time, an undisputed classic of English literature. Spanning twelve spectacular volumes and written over twenty-five years, his comic masterpiece teems with idiosyncratic characters, capturing twentieth century Britain through war and peace.
Drawing on Powell's letters and journals, and the memories of those who knew him, Hilary Spurling explores his life. Investigating the friends, relations, lovers, acquaintances, fools and geniuses who surrounded him, she reveals the comical and tragic events that inspired one of the greatest fictions of the age.
Discover Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time series, available in paperback and e-book from Arrow.
This comprehensive authorized biography from Spurling (Matisse: A Life) chronicles in meticulous detail the life and work of English novelist Anthony Powell (1905 2000), whose masterpiece is A Dance to the Music of Time. Published in 12 volumes between 1951 and 1975, this Proustian saga surveys the follies and foibles of hundreds of mostly privileged Britons over several decades through the eyes of its self-effacing narrator, Nicholas Jenkins. Of particular interest to Dance aficionados will be the models for such characters as Kenneth Widmerpool, the cycle's egregious striver. A keen observer of the human comedy, Powell had an "innate genius for friendship," as noted by V.S. Naipaul, whom Powell encouraged early in his career. Powell's detractors, most notably Auberon Waugh, dismissed him as a snob and disparaged Dance, but his far more numerous admirers knew him as a reserved, often witty man devoted to his craft. Spurling, a longtime friend of her subject, wisely chooses to cover the last, relatively uneventful 25 years of his life in a postscript. This is not the place to start for those who have never read Powell, but his many American fans will be rewarded.