In 2009, my typically languorous New Orleans summer was redeemed by Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time. This towering, rewarding and eminently readable brace of novels about British life in the 20th century-- about life itself-- was one of the highlights of my career as a reader. I gobbled the books up greedily, all twelve, accompanied by Hillary Spurling's indispensable guide, Invitation to the Dance.
This week, while poking around reviews of L.P. Hartley, I came across the issue of the British Council's fine old "Writers and Their Work" series that discusses both Hartley and Anthony Powell. The Powell portion, written when only 5 novels of Powell's Dance had been published, dwelt on the writer's earlier work, specially praising his satirical debut Afternoon Men. It is from Afternoon Men the following excerpt is drawn: