[Ebook] ➧ Books Do Furnish a Room ➭ Anthony Powell – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk

Books Do Furnish a Room The Tenth Novel In Anthony Powell S Brilliant Twelve Novel Sequence, A Dance To The Music Of Time.Discover The Extraordinary Life Of Anthony Powell Captured By Acclaimed Biographer Hilary Spurling In Anthony Powell Dancing To The Music Of Time Available Now In Hardback And Ebook From Hamish Hamilton.

10 thoughts on “Books Do Furnish a Room

  1. says:

    The war is over and those who survived try to readjust to peace Books Do Furnish a Room turns around literature and books And, of course, it turns around writers.A novelist writes what he is That s equally true of mediaeval romances or journeys to the moon If he put down on paper the considerations usually suggested, he wouldn t be a novelist or rather he d be one of the fifty thousand tenth rate ones who crawl the literary scene.But first of all the writers are human beings they have the The war is over and those who survived try to readjust to peace Books Do Furnish a Room turns around literature and books And, of course, it turns around writers.A novelist writes what he is That s equally true of mediaeval romances or journeys to the moon If he put down on paper the considerations usually suggested, he wouldn t be a novelist or rather he d be one of the fifty thousand tenth rate ones who crawl the literary scene.But first of all the writers are human beings they have their habits and preferences, and they want to live and love.And surely Anthony Powell doesn t forget critics and presumably his personal experience makes him quite sarcastic How one envies the rich quality of a reviewer s life All the things to which those Fleet Street Jesuses feel superior Their universal knowledge, exquisite taste, idyllic loves, happy married life, optimism, scholarship, knowledge of the true meaning of life, freedom from sexual temptation, simplicity of heart, sympathy with the masses, compassion for the unfortunate, generosity particularly the last, in welcoming with open arms every phoney who appears on the horizon It s not surprising that in the eyes of most reviewers a mere writer s experiences seem so often trivial, sordid, lacking in meaning.So A Dance to the Music of Time waltzes on magnificently Books Do Furnish a Room only for those who don t read them

  2. says:

    Nick Jenkins has the postwar blues He finds himself after demobilisation adrift in a city dominated by ruined, abandoned houses, reflecting an inner emptiness that somehow has to be filled with something The title suggests books as a solution, art in general The actual source of the quote in the text is slightly different, withof a sexual connotation, a subtle reminder that we also need a sense of humour, especially in troubled times Borage an excellent spirit to repress the fuligino Nick Jenkins has the postwar blues He finds himself after demobilisation adrift in a city dominated by ruined, abandoned houses, reflecting an inner emptiness that somehow has to be filled with something The title suggests books as a solution, art in general The actual source of the quote in the text is slightly different, withof a sexual connotation, a subtle reminder that we also need a sense of humour, especially in troubled times Borage an excellent spirit to repress the fuliginous vapour of dusky melancholie Francis Bacon and hellebore what doesn t kills you makes you stronger might also come in handy, at least according to one of Nick s favorite authors, Robert Burton Borage and Hellebore is also the title of the academic study Nick Jenkins is currently 1946 writing about Robert Burton and his Anatomy of Melancholy magnum opus The title page showed not only Burton s own portrait in ruff and skull cap, but also figures illustrative of his theme love madness hypochondriasis religious melancholy The emblems of Jealousy and Solitude were there too, together with those sovereign cures for melancholy and madness, borage and hellebore Melancholy in all its forms seemes to be the major theme of the last season in the Dance In the opening scene, Nick returns to his alma mater for research, an occasion to think of all the social ties that were severely cut down by the six years of warAs the forlorn purlieus of the railway station end of town gave place to colleges, reverie, banal if you like, though eminently Burtonesque, turned towards the relatively high proportion of persons known pretty well at an earlier stage of life, both here and elsewhere, now dead, gone off their rocker, withdrawn into states of existence they or I had no wish to share The probability was that even without cosmic upheaval some kind of reshuffle has to take place halfway through life Nicholas hasthan financial reasons for going back to university, to what Burton himself called a silent, sedentary, solitary private life Coy as ever about his own family life, the narrator hints at the need for a quiet interval of introspection and life assessment, at the need to furnish his inner landscape with something of true value and significance, something that transcends the numerous worries about food stamps, shortages of every basic necessity, career direction and social upheaval, troubles that have left deep scars on the British society in the aftermath of the war It was a bleak time, and the author is quick with his Victorian analogyIn the new year, without further compromise, Dickensian winter set in Snow fell, east winds blew, pipes froze, the water main located next door in a house bombed out and long deserted passed beyond insulation and control The public supply of electricity broke down Baths became a fabled luxury of the past Humps and cavities of frozen snow, superimposed on the pavement, formed an almost impassable barrier of sooty heaps at the gutters of every crossing, in the network of arctic trailsMeanwhile, traditional textures of existence were laboriously patched together in an attempt to reaffirm some sort of personal identity, however blurred The difficulties of picking up your social life after six years of war was best illustrated for me in the meeting with one of Nick s former friends, once a raconteur and a partygoer, now distant, distracted, introspective, morose view spoiler Moreland hide spoiler , a fine case study for Nick in relation to his paper on Melancholy in all its formsLife becomesandlike an examination where you have to guess the questions as well as the answers I d long decided there were no answers I m beginning to suspect there aren t really any questions either, none at least of any consequence, even the old perennial, whether or not to stay alive The disconnect is also present in Nick s reunion with the lady who was the passionate love of his youth, now a smooth socialite that keeps her true feelings tightly under lock and key view spoiler Jean Templer, now Lady Flores hide spoiler In line with the bookish title, the structure of the present novel is built around the formation, the daily management and, ultimately, the demise of a private publishing house in London Familiar faces Bagshaw, Quiggin, Sillery, Gypsy Jones, Rosie Manash, Widmerpool of course are all involved in the new business Nick is hired to manage reviews and reviewers, to handle public relations with fickle authors and investors, eventually to contribute to the literary magazine the house publishes, named Fission a reference to modernism in the atomic age The setting offers ample opportunity for Nick Jenkins to engage in his favorite pastime observing other people s folly while keeping himself on the sidelines as much as possible The overarching bleakness of post war existence is tempered as usual by Anthony Powell s keen sense of humour, although I must say my laughs were often tinged with the awareness of the sadness and loneliness hidden under the sometimes grotesque, sometimes satirical pranks and plot twists.Sadness and loneliness are the first words I associate with Pamela Widmerpool, formerly Flytton, and X Trapnel, a newly introduced writer character They are arguably the stars of the show in this tenth installment of the Dance, the couple that leads the other dancers in the quadrille, the catalyst for events both comical and tragic.Pamela serves a similar Jack in the Box plot function as her husband Widmerpool, apt to suddenly materialize in the most unexpected place, with or without her husband His appearance at this moment was wholly unexpected I love how Powell can capture her essence with a single word, a reference to hergladiatorialsex life Pamela takes no prisoners in her crusade against the whole world, discarding former lovers like broken toys, expert at finding the weakest spot in her partner s armour and plunging her sharp claws right in Spiteful, fickle, so merciless in her attacks that the reader by now knows to expect a bumpy ride whenever she shows up, Pamela is nevertheless a fascinating character study, like watching a natural disaster unfold, a volcanic personality so unlike the usual phlegmatic and undemonstrative, stiff upper lip British stereotype I am also a little in awe at how Powell managed to integrate Pamela in his own Anatomy of Melancholy, hinting view spoiler at an extreme case of frigidity in bed, despite her almost unreal sex appeal hide spoiler Similar to Pamela Widmerpool, X Trapnel serves as a spanner in the works of polite society, a flashy personality that rubs many of his acquaintances the wrong way He is as inconstant as Pamela in his love life, going through a posy of girlfriends in the short interval covered by the novel about two years , but unlike the gladiator , his attachments are less destructive,amiable in style.Trapnel for me is interesting in both of the roles Powell asigns to him as a social misfit struggling to make a splash and as an author, sharing with Nick and with Powell concerns about the art of the novel In my early reviews I commented upon the core conflict in the Dance between the world of Will and the world of Art Later, in the war years, the events were mostly compared with the world of Theatre Trapnel combines all three aspects of life in a spectacular shell Trapnel wanted, among other things, to be a writer, a dandy, a lover, a comrade, an eccentric, a sage, a virtuoso, a good chap, a man of honour, a hard case, a spendthrift, an opportunist, a raisonneur to be very rich, to be very poor, to possess a thousand mistresses, to win the heart of one love to whom he was ever faithful, to be on the best of terms with all men, to avenge savagely the lightest affront, to live to a hundred full of years and honour, to die young and unknown but recognized the following day as the most neglected genius of the age The General Conyers , speaking one felt with autorithy, always insisted that, if you bring off adequate preservation of your personal myth, nothing much else in life matters It is not what happens to people that is significant, but what they think happens to them What General Conyers calls personal myth is, in Trapnel s case, the public image he builts for himself, the numerous and contradictory masks he assumes in his effort to impress He is not the only Dancer to wear a mask Widmerpool comes to mind Powell justly remarks that all social intercourse is a sort of masquerade Trapnel excells in the sheer number of disguises he adoptsHabitual role sustainers, artificial personalities when the choice of part has been extravagantly incongruous, there are no limits to the craziness of the performance staged The first meeting of two extremes of will, Trapnel and Widmerpool, results in one of the funniest examples of Brit humour I think I first came across it in a Benny Hill Show At a publisher party, Trapnel introduces himself to the self important, newly minted Parliamentarian Widmerpool, and promptly proceeds to ask him for a handout, for reasons of being completely broke When the Big Man sourly produces the required pound, Trapnel immediately hails for a taxi to take him home The infamous pound will make a second show in the novel, as a plot device view spoiler for stealing Widmerpool wife Pamela Nick is the one who jokes about the method of getting access to the Widmerpool apartment, but tellingly for the overall neutral stance of the narrator, refrains from warning his new friend about the toxic nature of the woman he woos hide spoiler The second aspect of Trapnel, and probably the only authentic mask he wears, is the one of novelist who has written a succesful existentialist first novel Camel Ride to the Tomb Powell uses the occasion both for satire see the hilarious pair of pompous London critics Sheldon and Shernamker One has probably never read a novel for pleasure , the other has a goal to establish finally that the Critic, not the author, was paramount , for commentary on censorship sexual in the case of Sweetskin and political in the case of Sad Majors , for economical stressHe borrowed literally to keep alive, a good example of something often unrecognized outside the world of books, that a writer can have his name spread all over the papers, at the same time net perhaps only a hundred pounds to keep him going until he next writes a bookand for an earnest essay on the role of the novelist Tis not my study or intent to compose neatly but to express myself readily plainly as it happens So that as a River runs sometimes precipitate and swift, then dull and slow now direct, then winding now deep, then shallow, now muddy, then clear now broad, then narrow doth my style flow now serious, then light now comical, then satirical nowelaborate, then remiss, as the present subject required, or as at the time I was affected passage borrowed by Nick from BurtonA novelist is like a fortune teller, who can impart certain information, but not necessarily what the reader wants to hear It may be disagreeable or extraneous The novelist just has to dispense it He can t choose X is always very keen on spying, says there s a resemblance between what a spy does and what a novelist does, the point being you don t suddenly steal an indispensable secret that gives complete mastery of the situation, but accumulate a lot of relatively humdrum facts, which when collated provide the picture I left out of my comments the usual remarks about the flawless prose of Powell and connection between Trapnel and Melancholy, the key to the whole novel and so not to be spoiled by incautious comments I must though include the punchline, a surprisingly personal and poignant confession of disillusionment halfway through life King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid a painting referenced in the novelIn these sunless marshlands of existence, a dwindling reserve of pep pills, a certain innate inventiveness, capacity for survival, above all the mystique of panache in short, the Trapnel method just about made it possible to hang on That was the best you could say

  3. says:

    Imagination must, of course, select and arrange reality, but it must be for imaginative ends all too often the role of imagination in this sequence is to funny up events and people whose only significanceis that Powell has experienced themPhilip Larkins, in a review of Books Do Furnish a Room Anthony Powell s 10th book in his Dance to the Music of Time cycle starts with a discussion of Robert Burton s The Anatomy of Melancholy and this book and themes of melancholy and loveImagination must, of course, select and arrange reality, but it must be for imaginative ends all too often the role of imagination in this sequence is to funny up events and people whose only significanceis that Powell has experienced themPhilip Larkins, in a review of Books Do Furnish a Room Anthony Powell s 10th book in his Dance to the Music of Time cycle starts with a discussion of Robert Burton s The Anatomy of Melancholy and this book and themes of melancholy and love reappear frequently throughout the novel The central plot thrust of book 10, or the first book of the final season October if you will centers on X Trapnel a novelist loosely based on Julian McLaren Ross a writer described by his biographer as mediocre caretaker of his own immense talent This novel is the first of the post WWII novels It takes place in the years immediately after WWII when England is dealing with the social and economic turmoil of the Post war years Powell describes these changes by describing how the sea and tides will roll certain things back, lose certain things, and propel new things onto shore I m obviously paraphrasing because it is late and I haven t the energy right now to find the damn quote Anyway, it was an interesting brick in this series, not my favorite, but rewarding for some of its dialogue and plot twists An amazingly rich work that I m almost done with myself I ve got two hundred pages left in the last of the three partitions I ve spent about 3 years worth of Sundays intermittently reading while sitting through church I m not sure of my wife is thrilled with me reading Burton in Church, but Burton s explorations of Melancholy seem to almost need an altar or some sacred space to read it near

  4. says:

    The years immediately after the war are full of changes for the ones who survived, and a new generation is in the wings England must have been a sad, gloomy place at that time, with little work to be had, and destruction all over London This is 10 in the 12 volume series.

  5. says:

    Books Do Furnish a Room 1971 is the tenth of Anthony Powell s twelve novel sequence A Dance to the Music of TimeBooks Do Furnish a Room follows straight on from the preceding trio of war volumes The Valley of Bones 1964 ,

  6. says:

    In the new year, without further compromise, Dickensian winter set in Snow fell, east winds blew, pipes froze, the water main located next door in a house bombed out and long deserted passed beyond insulation or control the public supply of electricity broke down Baths became a fabled luxury of the past. or, if you prefer, Takes place winter 45 46 to late autumn 47 Somewhere in here Nick Jenkins has probably entered his fifth decade.Book published 1971 Anthony Powell was 65 years o In the new year, without further compromise, Dickensian winter set in Snow fell, east winds blew, pipes froze, the water main located next door in a house bombed out and long deserted passed beyond insulation or control the public supply of electricity broke down Baths became a fabled luxury of the past. or, if you prefer, Takes place winter 45 46 to late autumn 47 Somewhere in here Nick Jenkins has probably entered his fifth decade.Book published 1971 Anthony Powell was 65 years old.The main characters by roughly the number of pages they are referenced on with new characters in bold Widmerpool, X Francis Xavier Trapnel, Pamela Flitton, Lindsay Books do furnish a room Bagshaw, J.G Quiggin, Viscount Erridge, Sillers Sillery, Gypsy Jones, Roddy Cutts, Leonard Short, Howard Craggs, Ada Leintwardine and with a tip of the hat to Robert Burton, the 17th century writer of The Anatomy of Melancholy.One thing I noted when making this list is that, whereas in the preceding books set during the War, a list mentioning characters who had fifteen orpages in the novel circumscribed a cast of about ten But in Books Do Furnish a Room that 15 page level of engagement would require a playbill mentioning almost twice as large a cast.This larger cast, though not surprising given the situation of the war narrative in the prior volumes, does indicate the general truth that now, with the war over, Powell s characters, Jenkins as well as the others, are beginning to reestablish the prewar variety of everyday human connections In a similar way, many of the characters which would be shown on the lower half of such a playbill would again be members of the Toland family, Jenkins in laws During the war, there was the occasional set piece in which several Tolands were present and of course Jenkins wife Isobel was never too far in the background But with the war now over, these lesser familial connections again take aprominent role in Jenkins affairs Moving into the post war years, Powell shows us that Jenkins and by implication society in general has been freed from the necessarilyfocused regimen of his life during the war Not that everything has returned to normal , as so defined in pre war days, but rather that there is an attempt, a yearning, to refocus on some routine, some way of life, which had been abrogated by reason of that regimen.Widmerpool Windmerpool, as in the previous two volumes, plays the leading role, and Pamela as in her introductory role in the last book is an extremely important character How has this come to be Is Powell saying something extremely important about Widmerpool as a type In searching for an answer, I thought of a regular feature that I remember from the old Readers Digest my parents received when I was young something like The Most Unforgettable Character I ve Ever Met I think many most of us can bring up someone from our life s passage, perhaps someone we may not have even been emotionally close to, who has remained lodged in our memories over the years Someone not constantly in mind, but a person who, for reasons obvious or obscure, pops into our consciousness at random intervals and someone who, once resurrected from the unconscious, floods us with a certain set of memories, pleasant or otherwise, that remains clearer anddetailed than there seems any reason to warrant.This isn t a perfect likeness Widmerpool is muchto Jenkins than a mere set of memories revisited at odd times through his life He is a character encountered again and again, and in the years of these later volumes, for extended periods of time, with frequent personal contact Yet for all that imperfection, I see for myself Widmerpool best viewed as that Unforgettable Character that I really do have in my own life not someone so knit into my experience as Widmerpool is to Jenkins, but someone who shares many of the colors with which Powell paints him A person whom one can get along with, but unpleasant, not well liked, full of himself and one who has enough interaction with oneself and one s friends, and enough force of action, to play a negative role in things Books Do Furnish a RoomThere s no mystery where this book s title comes from You must have seen the source in that list of characters above Jenkins even tells us a couple legends of how Bagshaw s sobriquet arose one involving a large bookcase toppling on him, another involving the man advancing naked through the book lined study of a drama critic, toward a paramour being the critic s wife in both stories Bagshaw having uttered the titular phrase Though Jenkins admits that the truth of the matter was lost in the mists of the past But apart from Bagshaw s appellation, his entire career serves as a signpost to the topic which the book s narrative swirls around that of books, books, books the writing and the publishing world of the post war years Despite lingering paper shortages, almost all the significant characters in the novel are involved in one way or another in producing copy for the larger world to read.The central enterprise which links most of these characters is Quiggin Craggs, a left leaning publishing house established after the war by Quiggin Marxist and Craggs left wing pub and especially a QC house magazine, Fission Widmerpool, now a Labour MP, is on the board, and uses Fission as an outlet for the promulgation of his political and economic views X Trapnel an up and coming author signed by QC, frequent contributor to the magazine Bagshaw a longtime journalist, deeply learned in left wing lore , and editor of Fission Sillery, well remembered don from Jenkin s school days, reentering the narrative and signing a lucrative deal for his diaries with QC Gypsy Jones, long time CP member, now married to Craggs and influential in unofficial capacity as promulgator of the party line and Ada Leintwardine, Sillery s secretary after the war, joining QC in similar capacity, but soon published herself as a novelist.The publishing world in these years, for Jenkins, saturated with the fellow traveler, Communist impregnated fog of the pre war years, the Fascism of the ultimate enemy now vanquished, once again the specter of Marx rising out of the ruins Russia to be viewed as a valiant partner in the triumph, a beacon to ajust economic world Or as a virulent foe, now that the preliminary bout won, standing in the way of a less revolutionary progress Powell uses this world of writing to manufacture a magnificently satirical and ridiculous compendium of titles, mentioned as dating to, or recalled in, these years from memoirs of the war by unnamed authors one of these not mentioned by the author Moss off a Rolling Stone, Crying or Laughing Out Loud When Did It Matter , Purged Not in Lethe, Slow on the Feather, Stockbroker in Sandals to titles casually mentioned ditto Comrades at First Sight Yet Lovers in Arms A Novel, A Hundred Disagreeable Sexual Experiences, Marx Without Tears, The Pistons of our Locomotives Sing the Songs of Our Workers to books and articles written by the characters, forming structural elements in the narrative Affirmative Action and Negative Values, Assumptions of Autarchy v Dynamics of Adjustment, Bin Ends, Camel Ride to the Tomb, Profiles in String, Dogs Have No Uncles, Borage and Hellebore a Study, Integral Foundations to a Fresh Approach to Art for the Masses, I Stopped at a Chemist, Mimosa, Miscellaneous Equities, Paper Wine, Secretions, Sad Majors, Sweetskin, Unburnt Boats and finally a lecture delivered by Mark members, Kleist, Marx, Sarte, the Existentialist Equilibrium.Borage and Hellebore a Study or, Time Marches OnAs the book opens, we find Jenkins returning to university to engage in research for his only non fiction book, named above Rather inaptly named as far as sales go, a study of Robert Burton Well, the plants borage and hellebore are both mentioned by Burton, but who would know Reverting to the University at forty, one immediately recaptured all the crushing melancholy of the undergraduate condition As the train drew up to the platform, before the local climate had time to impair health, academic contacts disturb the spirit, aimminent gloom was reestablished, its sinewy grip in a flash making one young again Depressive symptoms, menacing in all haunts of youth, were in any case easily aroused at this period, to be accepted as delayed action of the last six years The odd thing was how distant the recent past had become, the army now as stylized in the mind to compare another triumphal frieze as the legionaries of Trajan s Column, exercising, sacrificing, sweating at their antique fatigue, silent files on eternal parade to soundless military music.Jenkins and Burton the melancholy brought on by advancing time Into the war as a still young or at least youngish yearning man, out of it as one entering, perhaps already arrived in, middle age even though not directly involved in the most intimate aspects of facing the enemy The abrupt shift in perspective having been brought about by the war years, which form a chasm across which that which came before, and the continuance of life coming after, seem somehow unbridgeable Not only have things changed bomb damaged buildings, some still used though needing repair, others abandoned liquor and wine supplies unrecovered to previous levels, forcing low quality, if not watered down, libations , but the view of those things has changed and together, the different landscape, plus the changed perspective, produce this intense uneasiness which infects both Jenkins and the reader particularly the reader advancing like Jenkins, or even leading him, into the first stage of the Winter of their years The Indian Summer has been all but missed entirely, and the cold Dickensian winter is not too far off on the calendar

  7. says:

    I really enjoyed this, especially the strong characterisation, the bookish themes and explorations of the late 1940s publishing industry.

  8. says:

    Post war London is bleak with buildings reduced to rubble from the bombings, and people feeling the loss of good friends who died in the war Nick Jenkins is returning to civilian work writing a book, and reviewing books for a left wing magazine He s working for a new publishing company where we are reacquainted with literary types from previous books, and introduced to the novelist X Trapnel.Kenneth Widmerpool, a MP, writes economic and political articles for the magazine Femme fatale Pamela Post war London is bleak with buildings reduced to rubble from the bombings, and people feeling the loss of good friends who died in the war Nick Jenkins is returning to civilian work writing a book, and reviewing books for a left wing magazine He s working for a new publishing company where we are reacquainted with literary types from previous books, and introduced to the novelist X Trapnel.Kenneth Widmerpool, a MP, writes economic and political articles for the magazine Femme fatale Pamela Widmerpool has a new victim fall for her.There are lots of cultural references and humor in Anthony Powell s writing He knows first hand what it s like to be a writer and book reviewer, and uses satire in his depiction of the publishing industry Books Do Furnish a Room is the tenth book in A Dance to the Music of Time series

  9. says:

    Great stuff once again The Dance continues as peace returns following World War II Many of the same players appear once again, and a few new ones are introduced to keep things lively The formidable Pamela makes a number of appearances, and I treasured a wonderful phrase that summed her up, when Nick referred to Pamela s gladiatorial sex life during the war Sadly, only twobooks remain to be read, but they must wait for a couple of weeks.

  10. says:

    As we get older, our stories increasingly become, not about us, but about other people Here, in the first volume of Winter, Nick begins his transformation into Someone Who Knew X Trapnel Personally He hasn t yet seen that this is happening the realization will dawn on him over the final two books He doesn t really mind He s amused by Trapnel, but can t take him very seriously.Few authors have been able to paint such a subtle, nuanced, detached picture of what happens as life fades away.

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