23 June 2018

#157 Governing

"I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy power," said Widmerpool. "That is something the war has taught me. In this connexion, it has more than once occurred to me that I might like governing ..."
He brought his lips together; then parted them. This contortion formed a phrase, but, the words inaudible, its sense escaped me.
"Governing whom?"
Leaning forward and smiling, Widmerpool repeated the movement of his lips. This time, although he spoke only in a whisper, the two words were intelligible.
"Black men ..."

Anthony Powell; The Military Philosophers
Contributed by Keith Marshall & others

19 May 2018

#156 General Conyers

When I wrote earlier in these Memoirs of Alfred Turner – a general, a distant relation, an eccentric – I saw at once that General Turner (among other things keen on psychical research) could be marked down as model for General Conyers in my novel.  So far as General Conyers had a model (he is in any case composite in his role of courtier), that was a cousin on my mother's side, Brigadier-General RLA Pennington (grandson of the Peninsular veteran and in his regiment), a soldier of altogether different stamp from Major-General Sir Alfred Turner.  The latter never crossed my mind when projecting General Conyers, but the principle is thereby illustrated of the novelist's attempt to create a 'character' based on someone known, who will be of more universal application than the mere sketching (as in Memoirs) of a familiar figure.  To the novelist the characters in his novel are known as those in a dream are known; the texture too complicated to be explained.

Anthony Powell; Infants of the Spring

17 April 2018

#155 Irons

"I've found an iron Beryl lent me. I don't exactly like to send it back without saying anything. Equally I don't want to have to write to her. I wondered whether you could take charge of it and hand it back when you get the chance."
"A flat iron?"
"A golf-club, you bloody fool."

Anthony Powell; What's Become of Waring
Contributed by Michael Barber

08 March 2018

#154 Novelist's Function

Mr Powell is, mercifully, a writer without a 'message', either philosophical, religious or political; he is content to examine without comment, and to illustrate through character in action, the changes in human nature brought about by the changing face of the social order in which we live: in other words, he is attempting to fulfil the novelist's only true function.

Julian Maclaren-Ross

08 February 2018

#153 Pepys

I thought of Pepys, and the 'great black maid'; and immediately Widmerpool's resemblance to the existing portraits of the diarist became apparent. He had the same obdurate, put-upon, bad-tempered expression. Only a full-bottomed wig was required to complete the picture.

Anthony Powell; At Lady Molly's
Contributed by Keith Marshall