Literature

Anthony Powell’s Very English Dance

Anthony Powell is little read these days. Ask for his nine-volume saga of English life and manners, A Dance to the Music of Time, in any Australian bookshop and all you encounter are blank stares or a suggestion you try the music department. In the UK, the Anthony Powell Society keeps his memory alive, but its demography is not encouraging. Yet Powell, a contemporary at Oxford of Evelyn Waugh, wrote the twentieth-century’s masterwork of English literature. What accounts for his neglect? The problem begins with Powell’s comparison with more critically acclaimed modernist writers. Commentaries on the Dance sequence generally assume…

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