Life imitates art

I thought, at first that he worked far harder than most of the men I knew. Later, I came to doubt this, finding that Quiggin’s work was something to be discussed rather than tackled and that what he really enjoyed was drinking cups of coffee at odd times of day

Anthony Powell, in A Dance to the Music of Time. Any of my co-authors will recognise this much of the picture, at least.

10 thoughts on “Life imitates art

  1. hmm, a latte-drinking academic poser is one reading, that sprang to mind for some reason. perhaps you you were young, and have reformed.

    or maybe think that all celebrity is valuable.

    that last is the paris hilton theory, it may work for rich beauties without being generally true. still, congratulations: you are slightly immortal, even if young women don’t print your face on their tee shirts.

  2. Strange, just last week I was reading about the other Quiggan in Powells’s book, recently republished by Folio with some very nice illustrations…just as well, because the Dance is a terminally boring book. Have you read it right to the end John?

  3. I also bought the Folio edition. I read it all a few decades ago, but the Quiggin quote is as far as I’ve got this time.

  4. Dance ‘terminally boring’? Only to some; to others, such as this reader, it’s of the funniest books in the English language, as well as in turns sad and stimulating. The scene where Widmerpool makes a speech at the old scholars’ dinner, the scene where Stringham appears at the party for Morland’s symphony, the scene in Venice where the conference members are inspecting the ceiling… boring?
    I note that Ms Pettigrew can’t spell ‘Quiggin’; perhaps she read the book with similar attention to detail?

  5. Thanks for the correction 06. As you suggest, I much preferred the pictures in the Folio edition. I agree that there are some engaging “scenes” in The Dance, but its the really looooong longeurs in between that bore my tits off.

  6. Have to agree with 06, read the lot many moons ago and can’t recall Quiggin. But I keep seeing Widmerpool in Aussie politics beginning with Whitlam deputy, Dr Jim Cairns. The ‘Morosi affair’ the commune years, the Melbourne street stall bookseller… Dr Jim would have excited Anthony Powell.

  7. Well yes, it probably is a boy’s book, so my comment was a bit presumptuous. I was just struck by the coincidence of reading it at the same time as our good host. And he hasn’t finished reading it either.

  8. I’m with 06; 4 completions of the 12 novella series since 1974 and a new set waiting for read #5. I can see Jim Cairns through the Powell lens as a later-life Widmerpool, but Widmerpool’s defining characteristics are his chameleon nature and supreme willpower; these makes him much more like Howard than Cairns. It would bring me infinite pleasure to see Howard follow Widmerpool’s ultimate trajectory.

  9. Indefatigable willpower is certainly something shared between John Howard and Lord Widmerpool I agree, but the colour still goes with Dr Jim for mine Macondo. I just can’t see Janine keeping up.

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