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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Friday, November 7, 2014

These people are all crazy!: Volume 11 of A Dance to the Music of Time

So volume 11, Temporary Kings, in Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, ends, as do the other volumes, without a real sense of conclusion - nor should these volumes conclude with a finality, as each is part of a grander design; in this volume, the last scene is a Pamela Widmerpool, the beautiful but sadistically deranged wife of the obsequious and pathetic Lord (Kenneth) W., reaching her apex, or nadir, as she discusses openly and disdainfully her infidelity to Widmerpool, his sexua voyeurism and the thrill she gets from being on display - recalling here the ceiling fresco discussed earlier in this volume - and then crudely describes how another of her lovers, the American film producer Glober (?), collects snippets of hair from the "pussy" of each woman he has sex with. One-upping, Glober suggests that he uses the hair as pillow stuffing,Ha? Huh? Ugh? These people ar all crazy - that's about the only conclusion one can draw at this point - despite all they've lived through in war and peace, their lives consist of consistently making one another miserable. Powell keeps this novel moving along with his sharp with and great ability to mimic all sorts of speech, including windbags and cliche-spouters. The final moment of the volume has the narrator, Nick, meeting Widmerpool by chance, as W is on his way to the House of Lords (the fact that he sits in the House tells all we need to know about British government and the death of the empire); W. is full of complaints and self-pity, indicating he was set up in a recent scandal (he was accused of being in the employ of a Soviet satellite state but got cleared for some reason), and then he continues on his way: life, history, England marches on, slouching toward Bethlehem.

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