Each recriminative decade poses new riddles, how best to live, how best to write. One's fifties, in principle less acceptable than one's forties, at least confirm most worst suspicions about life, thereby disposing of an appreciable tract of vain expectation, standardized fantasy, obstructive to writing, as to living. The quinquagenarian may not be master of himself, he is, notwithstanding, master of a passable miscellany of experience on which to draw when forming opinions, distorted or the reverse, at least up to a point his own. After passing the half-century, one unavoidable conclusion is that many things seemingly incredible on starting out, are, in fact, by no means located in an area beyond belief.
Anthony Powell; Temporary Kings
[Contributed by RD Angel]
Quotable Powell #3 [13 June 2000]
It was Dr Trelawney's view – and also that of his old friend Mrs Erdleigh – that death was no more than transition, blending, synthesis, mutation. To be fair to them both, they seemed to some extent to have made their point. Mrs Erdleigh (quoting the alchemist, Thomas Vaughan) had spoken of how 'the liberated soul ascends, looking at the sunset towards the west wind, and hearing secret harmonies'.
Anthony Powell; Hearing Secret Harmonies
[Contributed by Peter Kislinger]
Quotable Powell #2 [27 March 2000]
Pacing with Bag-Pipe in a bosky Square,
One morn a Piper rent the vernal air,
Dispelling by his savage, baleful Strains
That Freudian Pageantry, which Night-time gains.
(He wore a garb deprived of all amenity,
Save for vile jest and Smoking-Room obscenity.)
And hearkening to the Pibroch's raucous Note,
Bursting as if from tortur'd porcine Throat,
To Reverie did errant Fancy yield ...
Anthony Powell; Caledonia
[Contributed by Keith Marshall]
Quotable Powell #1 [15 March 2000]
As troubles get worse, small satisfactions increase, both in intensity and in expectation. I look forward with passion to the moment after I put Iris to bed. I come down, pour myself a drink, and while enjoying it read a page or two of a book, some old favourite that is lying near the kitchen table. Nothing new – never a newspaper or periodical – but nothing old and famous either, and nothing demanding. Something I have read many many times before. It might be a Barbara Pym or a James Bond novel, or Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, or a travel book by Ian Fleming's brother Peter ... All these lie about within easy reach.
John Bayley; Iris and the Friends: A Year of Memories
[Contributed by John Potter]