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O, How the Wheel Becomes It!: A Novel by…

O, How the Wheel Becomes It!: A Novel (edition 2015)

by Anthony Powell (Author)

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1304133,144 (3.31)5
Title:O, How the Wheel Becomes It!: A Novel
Authors:Anthony Powell (Author)
Info:University of Chicago Press (2015), Edition: 1, 144 pages
Collections:Your library, Unread - total
Tags:fiction, ebook, bluefire, epub

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O, How the Wheel Becomes It! by Anthony Powell



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This was a freebie from the University of Chicago Press. I picked it up because at some point I ought to read A Dance to the Music of Time, and I wanted to see what Powell’s style was like. Well, that has pushed the series down my reading list. I was reminded very much of Aldous Huxley and other literary writers of that era.

Set in the 1960s, Geoffrey Shadbold, a grand old man of letters, is married to a much younger wife (his second) who writes successful detective novels. The novel deals with what happens when he is reminded (mildly unpleasantly) of another writer (who died in the war) whom he was friends with. An old flame who has written her memoirs of that time also returns. Also included is a TV producer of Lit.Crit. programmes who is doing a programme featuring Shadbold, and Shadbold’s wife’s first husband, a redbrick university lecturer of English. The link between all is one Cedric Winterson, author of ‘The Wellsons of Ondurman Terrace’...

It was a tolerable read, but not something I would recommend unless you like that sort of thing.
  Maddz | Aug 30, 2018 |
There's a pretty big difference between this and Powell's 'A Dance to the Music of Time.' DMT is enormous, and this is short; DMT is fantastic, and this is okay. On the other hand, they both deal with the strange break between the early to mid twentieth century and the last decades of it, so it's in some ways not so different. If you liked the last volume of DMT, I would definitely recommend this; and this would be a reasonable place to start, to see if you want to make the investment in the series. As a stand alone book, it's okay; the start is incredibly confusing, but after the first few chapters it settles into nice prose. A quick, funny read. ( )
1 vote stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Despite it's short length this novel manages to say a few nice things about death, particularly it's timing, and contains some nice digs at the progression of the academic study of literature.

Death, and it's companion failure, stalk the novel; and if most characters escape the clutches of the former, then they are all victim to the latter by one shade or another. The novels protagonist - Shadbold - is confronted by rivalries, real and imagined, that he vainly tries to battle against, instead manouvering himself into more and more uncomfortable positions. Other characters seem more successful but all are full of insecurities and all lie on the outskirts of success.

The character of Horace Grigham, a university lecturer, allows Powell to poke fun at literary theory. Many novels like to poke fun at the more fashionable end of studies of literature but few manage to create a character simultaneously so obnoxious and yet totally harmless. That Powell manages it in the space of one or two very short chapters speaks volumes for his skills with language. Particularly astute was Grigham's interest in a long out of print book that he felt would back up his theories on literature. This theory first, text later, aspect of literary theory sadly still lingers twenty five years after Powell's novel was published and shows no signs of weakness.

The novel is far from being as dry as I appear to have made out though. It is quite a light read being short and having some good jokes. The prose is superb.
  benjaminjudge | Jan 25, 2009 |
Anthony Powell is a man I would probably like, though there are so many reasons why I think I wouldn't. Firstly, he demands that his name be pronounced like 'pole' with a long 'o', and not so it rhymes with 'bowel.' That I can understand.

His work is generally well-regarded, and I can see why - it possesses a literary flair that would attract many, but just like marmite it will put off a fair number too, and I fall into the latter group.

This work deals with the discovery of a minor writer/editor that the woman he most fancied as a young man slept with somebody for whom he had very little literary respect; he is then charged with editing this same man's memoirs for publication, and decides to attempt a cover-up.

Despite its prodigious shortness - 188 well-spaced pages - one rather feels that Powell, with a tighter reign on his flowery prose, could have made it even shorter, almost to the extent that his novel shifted through novella to become a short story and nothing more. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Dec 22, 2006 |
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In one or other of G. F. H. Shadbold's two published notebooks, Beyond Narcissus and Reticences of Thersites, a short entry appears as to the likelihood of Ophelia's enigmatic cry: "Oh, how the wheel becomes it!" referring to the chorus or burden "a-down, a-down" in the ballad quoted by her a moment before, the aptness she sees in the refrain.
Shadbold ... detected faint echoes of H G Wells, Arnold
Bennett, even at times George Gissing. ...

"You would agree attempts at realism in the manner of Bennett?"
"But touches of Wells."
"The Gissing-end of Wells."
... "Towards the end of the book these influences tail off."
"What was left of Wells, I wonder, when the Gissing had to stop?"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0030639999, Hardcover)

The hilarious story of lifelong poseur and literary manqué G.F.B. Shabold and his desperate envy of his long-dead friend Cedric Winterwade and of Shabold's sexual indiscretions. Originally published, to great success, by Sun & Moon Press.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:37 -0400)

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