This year I’m going to try to record all the books I read, and write mini-reviews of them. I’m not quite going for the
For Christmas I got volume 1 of A Dance to the Music of Time: A Question of Upbringing. I started reading it on Christmas day, so we’ll have to allow the year to start and end there.
I have been hearing quite a lot about Anthony Powell’s twelve-volume masterpiece recently: there was a whole Radio 4 programme about it, which I heard bits of twice. And I notice John Peel’s Desert Island Discs listing on Wikipedia, recently, and Dance was the book he chose.
So I was keen to read it, despite having seen the TV adaptation a few years ago, and thought it seem very shallow and superficial.
Having read the first volume I find that it’s not at all surprising that a few hours of TV that purported to convert the whole twelve volumes seemed shallow. This thing is dense. The first volume isn’t that long, but it only covers a couple of years of the narrator’s life: the end of school, some time in France, and the start of his university career.
Despite it being set in the years between the first and second World Wars — a time that is almost a century away from us, now — and the fact that the characters are almost exclusively privileged, public-school and Oxbridge types, their concerns aren’t so far from those of my own student days. Which isn’t so surprising. I suppose: we’re all people, and the state of being a student has always been a rarefied step away from real life.
Anyway, I look forward to working my way through the other eleven volumes. Perhaps I’ll do them all this year.