Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Real people performing …

 Anthony Powell’s Secret Harmonies | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Powell had, as Spurling has him say of Shakespeare, “an extraordinary grasp of what other people were like.” As a novelist, he had an unusual ability to portray large gatherings of people, and he made the phenomenon of “the party” one of his specialties. His women are particularly convincing, while his best male characters are the louche and slightly disreputable ones. He is not as acute as Evelyn Waugh, the writer to whom he is most often compared, and is certainly not his equal as a stylist, but Powell is a far more disinterested writer than Waugh, and lets his characters reveal themselves in a wholly natural way that Waugh would not have been capable of. Waugh’s fiction always bears the artist’s stamp, whereas Powell’s work appears self-generated.

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