Understanding Anthony Powell
Nicholas Birns provides a fresh examination of Anthony Powell's career and growing reputation in this introduction to the British writer's nineteen novels and his memoirs and journals. Birns takes a global view of Powell's corpus, situating his works in context and explaining his place among the second generation of British modernists. Birns adds to the understanding of how Powell and his compatriots pioneered a "next wave" modernism in which experimentation and traditional narrative combined in a sustainable mode.
Birns offers readings of Powell's entire oeuvre, including the novels Afternoon Men, Venusberg, and The Fisher King, and his journals, which appeared in print between 1995 and 1997. Looking especially closely at A Dance to the Music of Time, the twelve-volume sequence of novels that is Powell's masterpiece, Birns sets the series in its social and historical context, emphasizing the role that both world wars and the cold war played in Powell's life and writing. Birns shows that instead of setting forth a single champion against evil, Powell subtly communicates a half-melancholy, half-humorous sensibility in which he invites the reader to share.
About the Authors
"Understanding Anthony Powell fills a gap in that it is the first comprehensive study of Powell's work in its entirety. Birns's knowledge and his clear enthusiasm for the subject are more than admirable. The success of the book lies in the way it explains Powell's oeuvre within its cultural context."—Modernism/Modernity
"A sophisticated and useful road map to the writer's work."—Choice
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