Thursday, August 26, 2021

Anthony Powell, A Buyer's Market (1952)


This picks up a few years after A Question of Upbringing.  I guess that's not exactly a shocker.  Ol' Nick is working for some sort of publishing company, although it's pretty vague; certainly not what the book is about.  What IS it about? the beginning we are introduced to a painter named Mr. Deacon (Powell's extensive treatment of artists of various stripes certainly parallels Proust) who was a long-time family friend of the Jenkins,' and at the end, he dies in a bathetic way by falling down the stairs at his own birthday party. 

Between these things...well, he goes to a lot of parties.  His ol' pal Stringham gets married.  He becomes more acquainted with Widmerpool, and we learn his first name, although I don't know if they're exactly friends at this point.  Widmerpool is miffed over having had to pay a lot of money for an illegal abortion, and Powell spends A LOT of time telling us by not telling us that this occurred (the word "abortion" does not appear in the text).  And so.

The thing I did note about this novel is that there is significantly less feeling of any kind of narrative drive than its predecessor.  That may be because the first novel clove, sort of, to a familiar sort of coming-of-age narrative...I mean, only sort of.  But it did feel like there was movement, and that things were happening.  I got significantly less of a sense of that here, though that may just be because Nick's at a less eventful phase of his life (later, Powell devotes no less than FOUR volumes to the war years, which certainly SEEMS to suggest things happening).  This also, I have to say, is significantly less funny than its predecessor, although it has a few moments.

Still, it keeps you going.  I enjoyed it, albeit not quite as much.  A this point, I think it is difficult to judge what the series' overall tone is going to be like, but I certainly look forward to figuring that out.


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