29 March 2008

Quotable Powell 15 - 19

Quotable Powell #19 [27 December 2002]
... as if they had heard that enchanted horn of Astolpho, that English duke in Ariosto, which never sounded but all his auditors were mad, and for fear ready to make away with themselves ... they are a company of giddy-heads, afternoon men ...

Anthony Powell, Epigraph to Afternoon Men
[Contributed by Michael Henle]


Quotable Powell #18 [27 November 2002]

Intricacies of social life make English habits unyielding to simplification, while understatement and irony – in which all classes of this island converse – upset the normal emphasis of reported speech.

Anthony Powell, The Acceptance World
[Contributed by Clifford Huffman & Henk van Linde]


Quotable Powell #17 [13 October 2002]
Another element which certainly does nothing to alleviate the confusion is the fact that they [the characters in Dance] are, or appear to be playing a game of matrimonial or at any rate sexual twos and threes most of the time and while this was no doubt true of the people of that class at the time of which Powell is writing it is not something to which I am accustomed. Most of my friends go through life with the same spouse. I am not here levelling any moral charges at these people, since representatives of the Law and the Church and a number of other eminent people have shown us recently that adultery is of the utmost respectability, if not a sacrament.

Stephen Bagnall, "Anthony Powell and the Music of Time", Papers of the Manchester Literary Society, vol LXXII, 1961-62, pp 12-23
[Contributed by Keith Marshall]


Quotable Powell #16 [23 August 2002]

Anthony Powell should be read by anyone who is sick of the minimalist tripe that passes for contemporary fiction. His characters are among the most memorable created by any novelist writing in English since Dickens. The positive virtues of courage and honor are celebrated, but perhaps the ultimate moral value of Powell's work is as a cautionary tale. As Sir James Murray, a former British Ambassador who looks like he stepped out of the pages of a Powell book, once reminded me: 'The question is not whether we know a Widmerpool in our own lives, but whose Widmerpool are we?'

Dwight Sutherland, The University Bookman, Summer 2002
[Contributed by William Wleklinski]


Quotable Powell #15 [2 June 2002]

People think because a novel's invented, it isn't true. Exactly the reverse is the case. Because a novel's invented, it is true. Biography and memoirs can never be wholly true, since they can't include every conceivable circumstance of what happened. The novel can do that. The novelist himself lays it down. His decision is binding. The biographer, even at his highest and best, can be only tentative, empirical. The autobiographer, for his part, is imprisoned in his own egotism. He must always be suspect. In contrast with the other two, the novelist is a god, creating his man, making him breathe and walk.

Anthony Powell, Hearing Secret Harmonies
[Contributed by Laurie Adams Frost]

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