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Book Title: Casanova's Chinese Restaurant|
The author of the book: Anthony Powell
ISBN 13: 9780445200708
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 462 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1219 times
Reader ratings: 5.4
Edition: Warner Books
Date of issue: August 1st 1985
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5 -- CASANOVA'S CHINESE RESTAURANT
This fifth period is a bit different. So far, all the volumes were consecutive in time, sometimes with a few years gap between one and the next. While at the beginning of Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant we jump back in time a few years and the Narrator introduces a different set of dancers. After the initial flashback however, the story continues and we find ourselves in the second half of 1936, when the Civil War in Spain has begun (and where I encounter the best sentence I have read so far on that war I think both sides are odious), and the time of the abdication of Edward VIII.
The new group of dancers in the fifth volume are, appropriately, a coterie of musicians. If painters and painting make a striking visual presence in the Dance from the beginning, and writers have been running with the narrative all along--for the Narrator is after all a writer-- in this volume the society he observes is of the musicians: the most abstract of all artists.
We are made to feel that musicians stand apart ..
… thinking of the curious special humour of musicians, and also of the manner in which they write; ideas, words and phrases gushing out like water from a fountain, so unlike the stiff formality of painters’ prose.
And the attraction of music is precisely its abstraction, the lack of identifiable narrative, which leads Powell’s dialoguing characters to criticise the new painting ('the literary content of some Picassos makes The Long Engagement or A Hopeless Dawn seem dry, pedantic studies in pure abstraction) and the new literature (You might as well argue that Ulysses has more ‘story’ than Uncle Tom's Cabin or The Rosary) when it claims, unsuccessfully, to shun narratives - precisely what music has always done.
So, a whole symphony of composers is evoked, and one wants to put on the CDs as Liszt, Brahms, Shostakovich (with Communism as its accompaniment), Sibelius and Les Six, Debussy (offering the entry into the Spain of the war through his Iberia), resound through the novel.
Another striking element is that for the first time the reader is made aware that the Narrator may be not entirely reliable. In one scene his wife corrects his account, when he says she was present at a particular dinner: ‘No, I wasn’t’. This particular dinner party had been treated in a previous volume and the wife is right. The reader can now doubt other accounts, and can also infer something about the personality or sentiments of this constantly elusive narrator. After all, he does sometimes take his wife for granted.
The Dance is taking now a new ‘gravitas’ – not just because it contains a tragic element – but because of its soberer tone. Deaths have been encountered before but now the tragic is presented in the context of the complexities that humans have to face through our destinies.
One of the effects of Time passing.
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Read information about the authorAnthony Dymoke Powel CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.
Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
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