Books 2010

Books 2009

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Mr Bagshaw, your comment just below is blank - please avoid invisible ink when you write your blog.

Glo, what an interesting comment! I have not read any of Powell, and have not got further than completing Swann's Way in the Proustian canon. I will think on what you have said and let you know which I will persue in 2010.

Well, well, time for coming out has come now, and I must disclose my big secret - I was very tempted to give it away earlier... I started reading Dance to the Music of Time last June, and I instantaneously loved it - love at first sentence, you know. I thought I would have finished it by the end of 2009, but I have being struggling to finish Volume 11 for almost 2 months now, it is definitely the volume I like least.
I have made a lot of notes, but can't manage to dig out my notebook now. So I'm going to give you my impressions and opinions after what I remember. I too noticed that sentence about power and sensuality, and was very intrigued by it when I discovered it.
My books having neither introduction, nor notes, I read the whole with a virgin mind and no prejudice (except what I read previously on this blog). There were just the usual quotations of reviewers, who sometimes gave away too many details about what would happen. I ended up not reading them either.
Apparently, Evelyn Waught dubbed Powell the English Proust, and the first volume is really Proust-like, with all the recurrent memories from the past, with that special touch that makes the reader very thoughful and nostalgic, and the writing style is very similar too. There is a few very long sentences, probably one of the longuest in the English tongue, no? But trust me, Proust is much, much, much more boring than Powell. And then Powell revels a writer with a style of his own, and he doesn't need to imitate Proust.
The main impression I had about the first volume is that it was written afterwards by an old man, not by the supposedly schoolboy who tells the story. Eg: the quotations about love, how can a shoolboy know so much about love before being in love himself.
I also kept wondering how old Jenkins was in this volume and in some others too. What's a shoolboy, indeed?

Give me a good Lustau sherry over the unreasonable pursuit of power any day!

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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