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A solid thanks to our Jane.

Thanks for the "soggy compliment", considering I'm not British.

Parla

framlingham wrote:

framlingham wrote:

Re Anthony Powell, there is a whole amateur industry out there whose aim it is to find the real life 'character models' who make thinly disguised appearances as Widmerpool, etc. Hugh Moreland is singularly unfortunate here, as he's lumbered with the identity of Constant Lambert, in many ways a very different man. The name of the series is, after all, 'A Dance to the Music of Time' and not "My Friends and Other Animals'.

Meanwhile, most reviewers will tell you that 'Dance' is the reminiscences of an Old Etonian who could only write about toffs. They're wrong too.

Like any great writer, Powell draws from his own experience and the people he knew. Apart from anything else, few of us could furnish enough material for a character in a novel, we'd need gingering up a bit, quite a bit. Moreland certainly contains a dose of Lambert, bit of Walton too, and plenty out of Powell's imagination. Only in the war novels does he tend to lift real-life characters, whole, onto the page - the military attaches with whom he worked, and Montgomery, for instance.

The opening of post #1439 on the 'What are you listening to right now' is pure Widmerpool. I bet you could find a quote somewhere in the books that closely matches it. 

Camel Ride to the Tomb

I seem to remember being a little disappointed with the "war" novels. At the time, I thought the novels were going to move in a slightly different direction. I thought there might be a deepening of some kind, but it is more of the same........parties, chance meetings on the street, social events etc The war happens off-stage and impinges on the dance only to the extent that it forces certain bars and restaurants to close. Major deaths are reported in an oddly off-hand manner. Still wonderful and incomparable - it is unquestionably a masterpiece - but not quite what I hoped for at the time. I will have to go back to them again and see what I think now. It may well be the case that I hadn't quite understood the nature of the saga at the time.

Just out of curiosity: is X Trapnel based on anyone famous?

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

Just out of curiosity: is X Trapnel based on anyone famous?

 

A complete, or near-complete, lift out of life. He's Julian Maclaren-Ross, not a writer with whom I'm familiar. Powell acknowledges that he's X Trapnel in appearance, mannerisms, conduct and history. Which is the exception that supports the rule I laid out above: while most of us need significant spiffing-up to fill out a character in a novel, the odd time you run into someone who supplies all the material you'd want, and more. Plainly Maclaren Ross was such a person.

Now Pamela, I don't see her in his autobiogs. You sense Powell has been very coy revealing the sources for his fictional villains.

Lovely to bump into some else who appreciates Dance, Jane. I've recommended it to so many people, wife included, who can't for the life of them see what I'm on about.

[quote=tagalie]

[quote=tagalie]

 

Tagalie wrote:

"Now Pamela, I don't see her in his autobiogs. You sense Powell has been very coy revealing the sources for his fictional villains."

 

Begs the question, I'm afraid.  There probably were no sources, may be an odd hint from people Powell knew here and there. The underlying assumption is that Powell's characters were all based on people he knew, and that Powell was writing a piece of British naturalist / realist fiction, like (say) Trollope, or indeed a fictionalised autobiography. And he wasn't.
Why Powell should be singled out for this treatment, I don't know. Do we all similarly have to agonize about who was"really" Lucky Jim or Fagin or Goneril and Regan?
Powell himself denied that his characters were based on "real people" and to be more specific, in an introduction to a biography of Lambert, he wrote that all there could be of Lambert in Hugh Moreland was a touch of his "incomparable wit". Lambert was an alcoholic, Lambert had a fling with a famous ballerina, Lambert liked his girls young, Lambert worked for years with the Sadler's Wells Ballet: absolutely none of this resembles Moreland or indeed the women in Moreland's life who resemble neither of the two Mrs Lamberts in any way at all.
The characters created by a major novelist aren't based on "real people". They're *more real* than "real people".
Yes, Maclaren-Ross was a drifter and a sponger and a womaniser: Trapnel is that certainly, but he's also an authority on the novel whose final attempt at a major creative work is destroyed by a woman who makes Goneril and Regan together look like Mary Poppins.

framlingham wrote:The

framlingham wrote:

The underlying assumption is that Powell's characters were all based on people he knew, and that Powell was writing a piece of British naturalist / realist fiction, like (say) Trollope, or indeed a fictionalised autobiography. And he wasn't.

Why Powell should be singled out for this treatment, I don't know. Do we all similarly have to agonize about who was"really" Lucky Jim or Fagin or Goneril and Regan?

I'm sure you make a good a point..........I suppose the reason Powell has been singled out is the extraordinary richness of his characterisation, along with the sheer profusion of characters. Goneril and Regan, like most of Shakespeare's "characters", are not much more than puppets. They embody a few simple ideas and that is about all they are. No-one would ever think to trace their origins to a real person because there isn't enough that is truly distinctive. The same applies to Lucky Jim, who is nothing more than the narrative focal point for a sequence of comedic set-pieces As a "character", he barely exists at all.

But I do take your point overall. I realise you could have picked different examples.......

Interestingly, AP himself

Interestingly, AP himself stated that Nick Jenkins, the narrator of "Dance", is a mixture of himself plus a few other people, so we can't even assume that Jenkins=Powell!
The novels are, it's true, operating at a "naturalistic" level. Dig a little deeper and we'll find deeper, darker, forces in operation, and exploration of these forces as they recur in "Dance" is IMHO a great deal more fruitful than trying to prove that Maclintinck is a "portrait" of Peter Warlock for example.

Nathen, lass, tha's niver tellin' me tha can't borrow t'Messiah from Huddersfield Public Library?

'Truth' and fiction

As I said, there are very few straight 'lifts' from real life in Dance or any other fictional work. Trapnel is as close as Powell gets to such, if you exclude the allied liason officers and a couple of generals, Monty in particular, whose antecedents he readily acknowledges in To Keep the Ball Rolling. 

I can't quite agree on Moreland. Aside from the wit, which is a good part of his interaction with Jenkins, there's his relationships with women, not a million miles from Lambert's, and his tastes in music. Sure, there are differences too, the launch of his first symphony having more to do with Walton's experience than anything Lambert went through. The other musicians in Dance are a magpie's collection of bits and bobs from musical life of the period, Maclintick's suicide perhaps owing something to Heseltine's but his character more of an amalgam of the attitudes and lifestyles of several composers of that period, Rawsthorne coming to mind.

Relating fictional to real characters is nothing more than an interesting parlour game. It's what the artist does with his life experiences that counts, not where he gets them. If Dickens had modelled Micawber strictly on his father, he'd hardly have produced the wonderful ficitional character we all know. His ability to start with few traits and refract them to suit his story and the aims of his work is what counts. 

If examination of sources is all we're interested in, then plainly we've missed the point of fiction. As Powell said, fiction is often truer to life than life itself. But if we undertake it simple as a matter of interest, and continue to explore the works themselves, I really can't see the harm.

The first Mrs Lambert was

The first Mrs Lambert was virtually a child bride, a Eurasian girl from a very humble background. Lambert had a weakness for women with oriental features, or for women of colour exemplified by his schoolboyish passion for Anna May Wong. She enjoyed a brief stage career before remarrying.

The second, Isobel, was an artist in her own right who, following Lambert's death, moved in with Alan Rawsthorne.

Neither resemble the incomparable Matilda nor the terrifying Audrey Maclintink in 'Dance'.

Can we please get back to the

Can we please get back to the subject of the OP, this thread!!!! 

 

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