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THE ACCEPTANCE WORLD: Third in the 12 book…

THE ACCEPTANCE WORLD: Third in the 12 book series. (original 1955; edition 1955)

by Anthony. Powell

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3571230,515 (3.81)1 / 57
Title:THE ACCEPTANCE WORLD: Third in the 12 book series.
Authors:Anthony. Powell
Info:Farrar, Straus and Cudahy (1955), Edition: Fifth or Later Edition, Hardcover
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The Acceptance World by Anthony Powell (1955)


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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This is the third volume in Powell's immense roman fleuve,"A Dance to The Music of Time" and we have moved on to the early 1930s. (Though never explicitly stated, I assume that this volume is set around 1932 or 1933, based upon the oblique references to Mussolini and the hunger marches to London.) As always with "A Dance to the Music of Time" there is relatively little action but through Powell's customary delicate admixture, a few social set pieces are worked up to a potent melange of wry observation, outright humour and the odd undercurrent of melancholia.

The book opens with Nicholas Jenkins (about whom we learn as little in this book as we have managed to eke from the previous two volumes) visiting the Ufford Hotel in Bayswater for tea with his Uncle Giles, always rather a lost soul meandering through life with no aim or hope. As they finish their tea they are joined by one of Giles's fellow guests at the hotel, the esoteric-looking Myra Erdleigh. She is certainly more flamboyant that most of Uncle Giles's acquaintances, and Jenkins is initially drawn to her. It turns out that she has rather a reputation as a fortune teller, and is persuaded to "put out the cards" for both Nick and his uncle. She seems to divine some aspects of Jenkins's life including the fact that he had recently had a novel published. This is news to the reader - although the novel is often described as an autobiographical sequence, and is narrated by the character of Jenkins, we learn next to nothing about him. Mrs Erdleigh mentions a woman with whom Jenkins will become close, and also refers to a struggle involving one old man and two younger ones which will cause Jenkins himself considerable angst. This sets the scene for much of what will follow throughout the rest of the book.

We are then treated to description of a dinner at the Ritz, a weekend away in the country and then an Old Etonians' reunion dinner, also at the Ritz. At the latter event we are treated to the re-emergence of both Widmerpool, absent for the rest of the book, and Charles Stringham.

Widmerpool may have been absent for the greater part of the book but he makes up for this when he does finally appear. His intervention in the final chapter is characteristically bizarre, and provokes considerable mirth among many of his fellow guests, but the thirst for power and advancement is still as pressing as ever.

"Wryly observed and beautifully written" is starting to sound like a bit of a mantra when it comes to Powell, but the reason phrases become clichés is because they are true. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Nov 21, 2015 |
I felt this was the strongest volume so far of Powell’s 12-volume Dance to the Music of Time. Things seemed to have bedded into a nice rhythm as the characters reach maturity and start to develop their own adult approaches to life.

Widmerpool becomes even more enigmatic and is the centre of a quite bizarre episode at a school reunion. Stringham seems to have let himself go a bit… I’m not sure now that he’s going to last the entire novel. But in terms of plot, the key episode centres around Nick finding his feet in a relationship that the observant would have seen coming from volume 1.

It wasn’t only the characters that I found more mature; Powell seems to have hit his literary stride as the writing reaches a tempo evenly balanced between plot and reflection. This book served up more quotes that I thought were memorable (below) than the first two volumes combined. And look at this for a description of, not the Great Depression, but the current economic crisis:

I put it to you that certain persons, who should perhaps have known better, have been responsible for unhappy, indeed catastrophic capital movements through a reckless and inadmissible lending policy.’


I’m very much looking forward to getting into volume 4 in April. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jun 14, 2014 |
Umfraville returned to the room. He watched the completion of the game in silence. It was won by Barnby. Then he spoke. 'I have a proposition to make,' he said. 'I got on to Milly Andriadis just now on the telephone and told her we were all coming round to see her.'
My first thought was that I must not make a habit of arriving with a gang of friends at Mrs. Andriadis's house as an uninvited guest; even at intervals of three or four years. A moment later I saw the absurdity of such diflidence, because, apart from any other consideration, she would not have the faintest remembrance of ever having met me before.

The story starts in 1931, so the depression has begun, but Nick isn't really affected, although there are casual mentions of people he knows having lost money due to 'the slump'. The dance metaphonr is not only relevant to the way people come in and out of each other's life over the years, but also to the way the story flits from social event to social event, with hardly a mention of Nick's work or home life. The one time he does go to a business meeting (at the Ritz of all places) he ditches the meeting in favour of going to dinner with his old school friend Templer. Nothing ever seems to happen to Nick, and we usually find out about events in the other characters' lives at second hand, when Nick catches up with the gossip at yet another social gathering.

The way Nick portrays things, his circle flit about in their upper middle class world with hardly any interaction with the lower classes, so it comes as a surprise with Dick Umfraville chats to Mrs Andriadis's maid Ethel as if she is a real person. I have also noticed that Nick's descriptions of the people around him can be quite extreme and unrealistic, describing Mona as being 'like some savage creature, anxious to keep up appearances before members of a more highly civilised society' which doesn't really sync with anything she actually does, but provides a big contrast to Nick's own colourless personality. ( )
  isabelx | May 12, 2014 |
I love this quote: "In the break-up of a marriage the world inclines to take the side of the partner with most vitality, rather than the one apparently least to blame." This is so sad but so true. ( )
  mlbelize | Jan 27, 2014 |
Another quick read of this third volume of the series. Again, I could so very much relate to that sense of being the only sane soul in a sea of crazies.....that is well executed.....and the coincidental recurrence of all these characters bothered me a bit, yet when i think about some situations in my own life, i begin to rethink my annoyance......it does really happen. A lot of characters to remember and the toss out of a name from a volume or 2 ago does throw me a bit now and then....(sort of wish there was a directory of names to help refresh), and that is after i just finished the first 2. If i pause for several months or years before continuing on, i wonder if i will be lost. Had i not read the previous 2, i do not think this would have made any sense at all. But i liked it, after all that. And i will conquer all 12 eventually. contentedly looking forward to that. ( )
  jeffome | Sep 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Powell, Anthonyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ekholm, RaunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leistra, AukeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Once in a way, perhaps as often as every eighteen months, an invitation to Sunday afternoon tea at the Ufford would arrive on a postcard addressed in Uncle Giles's neat, constricted handwriting.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099472422, Paperback)

A Dance to the Music of Time – his brilliant 12-novel sequence, which chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England.

The novels follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles that stand between them and the “Acceptance World.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Set in the 'Great Depression' of 1931-2, The acceptance world invites us once again to join Nicholas Jenkins and his friends in their dance to the music of time. It is against this background that Jenkins enacts a daring love affair with Templer's married sister, Jean. The ineffable Widmerpool has a new job in the City, in a financial house that 'accepts' debts. However, the phrase also implies how the main characters, now in their middle or late twenties, find themselves 'accepting' what life offers people of their particular character and circumstances.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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