Tag Archives: Anthony Powell

Lines Written After Reading “Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant”

GLENDOWER:
I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR:
Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

—— From Henry IV, Part One, Act iii, Scene 1

Owen Glendower dissed by Hotspur, Henry IV, Part One, Act III, Scene 1

From Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant

…the two of them made some mutual arrangement. Then they smiled at each other, again without any sense of surprise or excitement, as if long on famiiar terms, and the waitress retired from the table. Barnby handed the stump of pencil back to Maclintick. We vacated the restaurant.

‘Like Glendower, Barnby,’ said Maclintick, ‘you can call spirits from the vasty deep. With Hotspur, I ask you, will they come?’

‘That’s to be seen,’ said Barnby. ‘By the way, what is her name? I forgot to ask.’

‘Norma…’

— Anthony Powell

Glendower Calls the Spirits

The world we touch and smell and taste,
The world we hear and see
Pays homage to the vasty deep
In which it soon will be,

But giving memory its due
(Which is to say: a lot),
The things we touch, smell, taste and hear
And see are all it’s not.

Surface Level

Rhymes with "bowl" not "towel"What? You haven’t read Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time? Oh. Well. Then you’ve missed bits like this:

Barbara used to say: ‘Eleanor should never have been removed from the country. It is cruelty to animals.’ She was also fond of remarking: ‘Eleanor is not a bad old girl when you get to know her,’ a statement unquestionably true; but, since human life is lived largely at surface level, that encouraging possibility, true or false, did not appreciably lighten the burden of Eleanor’s partners.

Snarky Barbara and unwinsome Eleanor, here mere teens, are only two of the dozens and dozens of struggling Brits who meet, part, meet again and part again through the twelve novels (collected in four volumes which Powell called “movements”) that together make one big ol’ story. Dance covers fifty years (1920s to 70s) in the lives of English literati, artists, financiers, politicos and what we’d now call “media figures.”

I guess Dance is very nom de cleffy for those in the know, but I’m not the least in the know and I still liked it. You’d like it, too.

A Dance to the Music of Time
First Movement

by Anthony Powell
(University of Chicago Press, Paperback, 732pp.)

A Dance to the Music of Time
Second Movement

by Anthony Powell
(University of Chicago Press, Paperback, 746pp.)

A Dance to the Music of Time
Third Movement

by Anthony Powell
(University of Chicago Press, Paperback, 731pp.)

A Dance to the Music of Time
Fourth Movement

by Anthony Powell
(University of Chicago Press, Paperback, 804pp.)