THE STRANGERS ALL ARE GONE: The Memoirs of Anthony Powell, Vol. IV by Anthony Powell

THE STRANGERS ALL ARE GONE: The Memoirs of Anthony Powell, Vol. IV

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Powell's elegant but impersonal memoirs became increasingly frail after the first volume (Infants of the Spring, 1977)--so it's probably just as well that this fourth, final installment makes no attempt at chronological narrative; instead, the novelist offers, from the 1950-80 period, ""a kind of album of odds and ends in themselves at times trivial enough."" Most appealing of these: a sketch of office-life at the postwar Punch headed by Malcolm Muggeridge--where Powell, as the new Literary Editor, found an ambience of ""lowish vitality sustained by a fairly dogged and longstanding complacency."" (As for MM himself, there's a neat discussion of the ""three persons making up the Muggeridgian Trinity each pulling in a different direction. . . ."") The other odds and ends, however, are only intermittently amusing or enlightening. Powell wispily profiles literary friends and acquaintances--from Ivy Compton-Burnett (""a writer of much deeper understanding than, say, Virginia Woolf"") to Kingsley Amis and V. S. Naipaul. He recounts his less-than-triumphant experiences as a playwright. There's a chapter on censorship (the Lady Chatterley trial, My Secret Life). And there are travels--to America, the Orient, and assorted writer's conferences, including one fairly droll encounter with Mikhail Sholokhov: ""He looked rude before he opened his mouth""--and Isaiah Berlin (who sat on Sholokhov's other side) detected a ""distinct touch of Muggeridge."" By and large for Powell enthusiasts only, then--though, unlike previous volumes, this one sheds little light on A Dance to the Music of Time.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1983
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston