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Tag Archives: Evelyn Waugh

Good Stories: What Christian Writers Can Offer

Yep, Barabara Nicolosi, founder of Act One and professional screenwriter, is right. I agree that we need to work and think really hard to offer the world the sort of stories Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Françoise Mauriac, Dostoevsky and Victor Hugo offered. But it would be worth it.

This weekend I finish my library class and start writing in earnest. Promise.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in book lovers, Christianity, classic, Nobel Prize, Spirituality, Theology, writers

 

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A Dance to the Music of Time: The First Movement (66% of It)

Garrison Keillor‘s Writer’s Almanac mentioned Anthony Powell‘s A Dance to the Music of Time in December and I was intrigued. How could I pass up a book Evelyn Waugh compared to Proust‘s In Search of Lost Time? Waugh says Powell’s 12 volume masterpiece is “dry, cool, humorous, elablorately and accurately constructed and quintessentially English. It is more realistic than A Recherche du Temps Perdu, [trans. In Search of Lost Time], to which it is often compared and much funnier.”

So far I’ve read the first two novels, A Question of Upbringing and A Buyer’s Market. Set in the 1920s, A Question of Upbringing introduces readers to Nicholas Jenkins, the narrator. He’s attending boarding school with the churlish, bothersome Kenneth Widmerpool, and the “cooler kids” Stringman and Templer, with whom he hangs out conniving pranks, and sharing a jaded view of their teachers and peers. After graduation, Jenkins is sent to France for six weeks to polish his language skills and whom should he run into but Widmerpool. Finally, the novel concludes with Jenkins at university attending a tea at a unctuous social climbing professor’s rooms. Here he meets Mark Members, JG Quiggin, Bill Truscott, who’re sure to factor into the rest of the story. I was surprised at how little time university would play in a 12 volume work.

Here’s a sample insight:

Human relationships flourish and decay, quickly and silently, so that those concerned scarcely know how brittle, or how inflexible, the ties that bind them have become.” (A Question of Upbringing, p. 229)

In A Buyer’s Market, Jenkins has finished his education and is living in London. Though work is the topic of many conversations and status is determined by one’s employment to a degree, the emphasis is on debutante balls, loves and faux loves, and friendships that are ill-advised, dead, or comatose.

The strength of these novels isn’t what happens, but how Jenkins thinks about events, relationships, and perceptions. That’s where the power and the humor come into play. The descriptions are trenchant and witty. As I read them, I envy Powell’s talent and skill. Ah, to write so well.

The book does center on the upper crust of England and that’s not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey, but if you like Downton Abbey, I think you’ll like this.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in British Lit, classic, contemporary

 

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Part Explanation, Part Rant

Nicolas Poussin's oil "Dance to the Music of Time" inspired Powell's title

One thing that has really burned me up about this recent bad job is that I’m working ’round the clock and have so little time to read. On top of that since I’m surrounded by construction noise and just a weird environment that’s got and gives off ADHD, it’s oddly sort of psychically impossible to concentrate and finish a book.

Thus I haven’t been able to read much at all and I do resent this sacrifice.

Happily I’m back home and able to read. There are so many books I’d like to cram in to this month. I’ve got to choose wisely. From the Writers’ Almanac I learned of Anthony Powell‘s A Dance to the Music of Time, a series of 12 novels that Evelyn Waugh says is better than Proust‘s In Search of Lost Time (a.k.a À la recherche du temps perdu). So far it’s splendid. I expect it’ll take a year to read it all since I want to intersperse this read with other books I need to finish.

One of those books is Gifted, which called to me at the library. It’s a very well written young adult novel about an Indian-English girl who’s mathematically gifted and somewhat cursed by a father obsessed with frugality and achievement.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in British Lit, classic, contemporary

 

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