THE KINDLY ONES by Anthony Powell
Kirkus Star


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This is the sixth volume in the cycle known as The Music of Time and the recent one volume republication of the first three books has affirmed the increasing critical attention and appreciation for this work since its appearance ten years ago. In spite of the misleading comparisons with Proust, the closest company Powell keeps is with Waugh, if only in the elegance of his wit and range of his social satire. Time again is treacherous and idiosyncratic, so that experience becomes a non-sequitur of occasional, fitful encounters. Old friends come and go; associations are renewed; relationships dissolve in the random scenes now and later, here and there. This particular volume has a somewhat more definite design in that its first part (covering spectator-participant Nicholas Jenkins' childhood just before World War I) and its second part (just before World War II when ""another stage of life was passed"") are overcast by the uneasy prescience of war. There are marvellous scenes in the early section at Stonehurst where a large staff (Albert- the artist- chef, Bracey- the soldier-servant, etc.) is implemented by a ghost, and Billson, the parlormaid, a disturbed spirit herself, makes an appearance ""stark""; also those involving a dubious local mystic, Dr. Trelawney, who will reappear later, along with Albert, at the seedy seaside hotel where Uncle Giles, one of the great characters in this series, finally relinquishes his ""unsatisfactory mode of life""... The particular pleasures and virtues of this work-in-progress have been established; it is an amazing achievement and this particular book lessens the distance between the narrator and the reader.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1962
Publisher: Little, Brown