Temporary Kings, Anthony Powell

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Temporary KingsĀ (in Winter), Anthony Powell, Popular Library, 1976, ISBN 445-08448, $2.50, 241pp.

The penultimate book in the “Dance to the Music of Time” series. With each book, I find myself reading these faster and faster. Some of this is due to the familiarity with the characters and settings, people and places that I have encountered before and thus do not need to labor at identifying. But it is also due to the ‘dating’ of the books. Early in the series, beginning as it does shortly after the first World War, I had little in common with the characters and their world. As Powell has progressed through the years, I find myself being able to visualize the people much, much easier.

As in the previous book, Books Do Furnish a Room, Widmerpool continues to embody the Peter Principle in his endless fall upwards, no matter the cruelty that his wife (or Anthony Powell) can bring to bear on him. While I do not find Widmerpool a character with which I can emphathize, I do find myself wincing at his discomfort in much the same way that I can hardly stand to watch sitcoms like “Seinfeld” where people are shown in embarrassing or humiliating situations.

I’m anxious to finish off the series, and make a summary statement about it, even though the first book is lost in the hazy memory of a year ago.

[Finished November 1998]

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