Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time
By Hilary Spurling
Anthony Powell (1905-2000), best known for his twelve-volume comic masterpiece, A Dance to the Music of Time, was also the author of sixteen earlier novels, plays, and biographies, five memoirs, and three volumes of journals. He was a prolific literary critic and book reviewer. Between the two world wars, before making his name, he kept company with rowdy, hard-up writers and painters–and painters’ models–in the London where Augustus John and Wyndham Lewis loomed large. He counted Evelyn Waugh and Henry Green among his lifelong friends, and his circle included the Sitwells, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Philip Larkin, and Kingsley Amis, among many others. Now, drawing on his letters, diaries, and interviews, Hilary Spurling–herself a longtime friend of Powell’s– has written a fresh and masterful portrait of the man, his work, and his time. Insightful, poignant, and cinematic in scope, this biography is as much a brilliant tapestry of a seminal moment in London’s literary life as it is a revelation of an iconic literary figure.
I started editing most of the reviews in 2016 because my PhD in English (a humblebrag if you’ve ever seen one) has to be put to use somehow. So I know “the about” all the books and how good they are, which is super cool in general but also terrible for my budget. And I’m the one insisting on the Oxford comma. It’s the hill I’ll die on. I would kidnap Lily the office dog if a) I didn’t have three cats, b) I don’t also love Heidi and Ross and would never hurt them, and c) I didn’t just make a public record of intent to commit a crime. I also help with posting articles to the websites and doing book round-up articles.