A Buyer's Market

The second part of the twelve step dance around time and memory from Anthony Powell picks up the story of his alter ego Nicholas Jenkins a few years after he finishes school and moves to London pro

The second part of the twelve-step dance around time and memory from Anthony Powell picks up the story of his alter-ego, Nicholas Jenkins, a few years after he finishes school and moves to London, probably around 1925. I am grateful to the group read of the Dance for motivating me to keep to the schedule of one book per month, thus keeping things fresh in my mind and offering bonus material in the discussion pages. Being familiar with the style of presentation and with some of the characters helped me enjoy this month's offer a little more than the debut. I can spot now the way each chapter begins with a catalyst for memory and with a short key for interpreting the events, and how each chapter has a sort of moral and lesson learned from experience. Jenkins remains a little bland and amorphous, a perfect witness of the times rather than an active participant, but his growing up is evident by the end of the book, even if it comes at a slow and introspective pace. I have grown quite fond of Nick and of his reserved demeanour, mostly for the way he keeps his curiosity alive and for how he tries to understand people without judging them. Jenkins reminds me strongly of one of my favorite quotes from Sir Terry Pratchett:“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it.”- Terry Pratchett]If the catalyst of the first volume (the Proustian 'madeleine') was watching some workers dig a road in winter, this time memory is triggered by a set of canvases painted by an old family friend. Jenkins remembers mr. Deacon as an unconventional figure, out of synch with both the classical and the modern styles in painting, trying to find his own artistic path yet being either ridiculed or ignored by the establishemnt. The canvases were none of them familiar, but they recalled especially, with all kind of other things, dinner at the Walpole-Wilsons', reviving with a jerk that phase of early life. They made me think of long-forgotten conflicts and compromises between the imagination and the will, reason and feeling, power and sensuality; together with many more specifically personal sensations, experienced in the past, of pleasure and pain. The opening scene elegantly sets up what appears to be the main dychotomy of the epic : the relationship between the world of power (materialism) and the world of art (spirituality). Jumping to a later point of the present novel, this aspect is spelled out even more clearly when the closing scene brings in focus another painter friend of Jenkins, this time an exponent of the younger generation named Barnby: His life's unusual variety of form provided a link between what I came, in due course, to recognise as the world of Power, as represented, for example, by the ambitions of Widmerpool and Truscott, and the imaginative life in which a painter's time is of necessity largely spent: the imagination, in such cases, being primarily of a visual kind. I referred to the first novel in the series in musical terms, as a symphony of many voices. The second one develops more as a tapestry, weaving together lives and images into a more coherent panoramic view of its period. The narrative is more insightful and more elaborate, as a normal consequence of Jenkins passing from childhood to maturity, expanding his horizons and his areas of interest while maintaining a thematic continuity and a goal of extracting the universal truths from particular incidents. Mr Deacon's reappearance at that season seemed not only to indicate divorce of maturity from childhood, but also to emphasise the dependence of those two states one upon the other. The particular incidents of great significance in this second episode are as follows : - a formal dinner and debutante ball Jenkins attends at the Walpole-Wilsons' London mansion, including an infamous sugar incident- an after party of the high society given by a Mrs. Andriadis in London, on the same night, in the company of mr. Deacon, Gypsy Jones, Stringham, a prince from the Balkans and many others- a visit to the country residence of Sir Magnus Donner, at the castle Stourwater- a dinner at the Widmerpool home, coupled with a birthday party for Mr. Deacon, the painter. I have identified two common factors in all four scenes : the active participation of Widmerpool in all four, and the personal quest of Jenkins to unravel the eternal mystery of feminity (... or to get laid, if I were to use the coarser third millenium verbalisation, an expression that our friend Nick probably would find repulsive, given his coy and oblique mentions of the subject throughout the novel) I must have been about twenty-one or twenty-two at the time, and held then many rather wild ideas on the subject of women: conceptions largely the result of having read a good deal without simultaneous opportunity to modify by personal experience the recorded judgment of others upon that matter: estimates often excellent in their conclusions if correctly interpreted, though requiring practical knowledge to be appreciated at their full value. This shy and elaborate style forms a good part of the charm of Jenkins for me, and I am of the opinion that our modern lives are poorer for the trivialization of our finer sentiments. 'Cringe' comedy is one of the recent fads I would like to bury somewhere deep and out of the beaten track. I mentioned comedy because some of the efforts of Nick Jenkins to woe the young ladies of London are quite funny, in their own stiff-upper-lip way (view spoiler)[ like Nick deciding that he doesn't really love Barbara Goring after he sees her pour a full saucer of sugar on Widmerpool's head; by the end of the novel Nick is so vague and pudic that the reader still wonders if he finally did it or not. He also, even in his moments of bliss, still thinks in terms of art: "Gypsy lay upon the divan, her hands before her, looking perhaps rather self-consciously, a little like Goya's Maja desnuda - or possibly it would be nearer the mark to cite that picture's derivative, Manet's Olympia, which I had, as it happened, heard her mention on some former occasion - she glanced down, with satisfaction, at her own extremities."(hide spoiler)]. In a way, Nick reminds me of my own early twenties, when I had the roving eye and used to imagine how it would be to fall in love with every pretty girl I saw at parties... of being in love with the idea of love: On the way down in the train I had felt that it would be enjoyable to meet some new girl, even at risk of becoming once more victim to the afflictions from which I had only recently emerged. and, Mrs. Wentworth was, outwardly, the more remarkable of the pair, on account of the conspicuous force of her personality: a characteristic accentuated by the simplicity of her dress, short curly hair, and look of infinite slyness. Lady Ardglass was more like a caryatid, or ships figurehead, though for that reason no less superb. As an older man looking back at the folly of his youth, Nick is able to take a less sanguine atitude towards these ladies and towards his romantic feelings: This affair with Barbara, although taking up less than a year, seemed already to have occupied a substantial proportion of my life; because nothing establishes the timelessness of Time like those episodes of early experience seen, on re-examination at a later period, to have been crowded together with such unbelievable closeness in the course of a few years; yet equally giving the illusion of being so infinitely extended during the months when actually taking place. A list of all these love interests of young Jenkins could get quite long, but somewhere along the line I got to thinking about the significance of the title for this second novel in the series, which I suspect is a double entendre, referring both to the lack of suitable young men in the aftermath of the World War II and to the world of Power, where some are called forward based less on their intrinsic abilities and more on the strength of their connections. Widmerpool's presence was 'proof of the insurmountable difficulties experienced by hostesses in their untiring search for young men at almost any price. The last quote brings me around finally to what appears to be the central figure of the dance, at least according to Jenkins who 'accidentally' runs into his old school mate in the most unlikely places. I did not, however, as yet see him as one of those symbolic figures, of whom most people possess at least one example, if not more, round whom the past and the future have a way of assembling. I was confounded in the opening volume by the importance accorded to this oddball personage in the economy of the story, and the bafflement continues in the second book, although Widmerpool's character slowly begins to make sense, like an image gradually coming in focus on photographic paper after being exposed to light. Likewise, the reader understands more about what Widmerpool stands for after each new encounter between him and Jenkins. The final picture is still probably a few volumes away. The same technique is deployed by Powell for all the recurring characters in his saga, with other school friends and acquaintances making a comeback under fresh circumstances : Stringham, Sillery, Templer and his sister, Truscott, Mark Members and Quiggin. Newly introduced characters, like Archie Gilbert - the dandy who lives is invited to all society balls ("he danced his life away through the ball-rooms of London in the unshakable conviction that the whole thing was a sham.) - or the painter Barnby, may play a greater role in later books, yet it is Widmerpool who seems to stay the longest in the limelight for now: True to old form, there was still something indefinably odd about the cut of his white waistcoat; while he retained that curiously piscine cast of countenance, projecting the impression that he swam, rather than walked, though the rooms he haunted. Powell is at his best when he makes his observations of human nature, both explaining and holding back his judgement while he tries to remain truthfull to the perspective and current experience of his narrator Jenkins. The author also enchants with his use of the English language, approaching P G Wodehouse in his search for the most evocative and beautiful turn of phrase. I love diving to the dictionary in order to make sense of 'minatory quiescence' even as I know I will have scant chance to use the expression in everyday conversations. Widmerpool still represented to my mind a kind of embodiment of thankless labour and unsatisfied ambition, [...] forever floundering towards the tape in races never won. and, The illusion that egoists will be pleased, or flattered, by interest taken in their habits persists throughout life; whereas, in fact, persons like Widmerpool, in complete subjection to the ego, are, by nature of that infirmity, prevented from supposing that the minds of others could possibly be occupied by any subject far distant from the egotist's own affairs. Implied here is the fact that such impressions and judgements are liable to evolve over time, to change into something else as Jenkins will grow older. Nick will probably be drifting towards the artistic side of the equation of life, what he calls Bohemianism. He is already working for a small publishing house putting out art albums, and he is writing in his spare time essays and studies 'in the manner of Montaigne' , but I have a feeling the world of Power will also still intrude upon Jenkins and his circle of friends. Whatever the imperfections of the situation from which I had just emerged, matters could be considered with justice only in relation to a much larger configuration, the vast composition of which was at present - that at least was clear - by no means even nearly completed. With this elegant conclusion that we never stop learning as long as we live, I am ready to dive into the third book of the dance. Before that, I have a few more bookmarks that I would like to remember from the present novel:on the subject of finding the universal in the particular, Nick gains... a belief that existence fans out indefinitely into new areas of experience, and that almost every additional acquaintance offers some supplementary world with its own hazards and enchantments. As time goes on, of course, these supposedly different worlds, in fact, draw closer, if not to each other, then to some pattern common to all. >><<>><<on parting from a friend :I certainly felt sad that I should not see Mr. X again. The milestones provided by him had now come to and end. The road stretched forward still. >><<>><<on the quest for love, growing up is often associated with heartbreak and disillusionment :... in so far as I was personally involved in matters of sentiment, the season was, romantically speaking, autumn indeed, and the leaves had undeniably fallen from the trees so far as former views on love were concerned: even though such views had been held by me only so short a time before. >><<>><<Popular A Buyer's Market By Anthony Powell go inside Book The second novel in Anthony Powell s brilliant twelve novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time.Discover the extraordinary life of Anthony Powell captured by acclaimed biographer Hilary Spurling in Anthony Powell Dancing to the Music of Time available now in hardback and ebook from Hamish Hamilton.. Anthony Dymoke Powel CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.Powell s major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.. A viral Ebook A Buyer's Market 2. -- A BUYER'S MARKETAnd so the Dance continues in its beginnings. The second period interval is still part of the dawn of times. The main contribution with this term is that the dancers begin to acquire shape. They also become much more numerous, and I now begin to fear a multitude, given how poor my memory for names is, when the do not have a face. Luckily I am accompanying my read with an audio version, which appropriately adds the musicality of the human voice to the dance. The brilliant reader endows each name with a different voice, and so, if not their physical features, it is their accent, intonation, and timbre that helps me distinguish them all from each other.As the title indicates, at stake here are the professions that the young male characters have to start paving for themselves. When there are Buyers, there are also Sellers. The steps of the dancers in this volume involve finding their place in society: writing & painting and/or Money for the men, dancing & coming out (and/or Money) for the ladies.For what comes to the fore in the second act is that we are witnessing a choreography in which, as the various dancers chose their places, two sets will interplay with each other, possibly alternating between a harmonic and mellifluous pas de deus and a jarring, dissonant and antagonistic confrontation. Power and the Arts cavorting and frolicking in a dazed prance.But the dance continues and is beckoning me… I ought to go back.

About Author

  1. Anthony Dymoke Powel CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.Powell s major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.


A Buyer's Market Comment

  1. 2 A BUYER S MARKETAnd so the Dance continues in its beginnings The second period interval is still part of the dawn of times The main contribution with this term is that the dancers begin to acquire shape They also become much numerous, and I now begin to fear a multitude, given how poor my memory for names is, when the do not have a face Luckily I am accompanying my read with an audio version, which appropriately adds the musicality of the human voice to the dance The brilliant reader endows e [...]

  2. This is the second novel in the Dance to the Music of Time series, following on from A Question of Upbringing It is set in 1928, when our narrator, Nick Jenkins, is twenty one or two However, it begins with a flashback to Paris just after WWI, when Nick has a chance meeting with an artist, Mr Deacon, an acquaintance of his parents This introduction serves the reader to understand the various relationships in Nick s life, as he meets up with Mr Deacon again after a dinner party at the Walpole Wil [...]

  3. The second part of the twelve step dance around time and memory from Anthony Powell picks up the story of his alter ego, Nicholas Jenkins, a few years after he finishes school and moves to London, probably around 1925 I am grateful to the group read of the Dance for motivating me to keep to the schedule of one book per month, thus keeping things fresh in my mind and offering bonus material in the discussion pages Being familiar with the style of presentation and with some of the characters helpe [...]

  4. It is no good being a beauty alone on a desert island Anthony Powell, A Buyer s Market For reasons not always at the time explicable, there are specific occasions when events begin suddenly to take on a significance previously unsuspected so that, before we really know where we are, life seems to have begun in earnest at last, and we, ourselves, scarcely aware that any change has taken place, are careering uncontrollably down the slippery avenues of eternity Anthony Powell, A Buyer s Market Book [...]

  5. A Buyer s Market is the second book in Anthony Powell s twelve novel sequence A Dance To The Music of Time and it picks up the narrative in 1928, via a flashback to Paris where narrator Nick Jenkins introduces us to an artist called Mr Deacon Nick is now in his early twenties and whilst grown up, still uncertain of his place in the world I assume this explains the book s title Nick and his contemporaries are searching for money, jobs, sex, social status etc and their search takes them to a succ [...]

  6. A Buyer s Market takes the narrator, Nick Jenkins, to London in the late 1920s Much of the novel is set at either upscale parties, or with a group of bohemians that revolve around the artist Mr Deacon.The title of the book suggests that the parties are a kind of marketplace People attend the parties to meet marriage prospects and sexual partners The parties are also an opportunity to make business contacts, the 1920s version of networking It was important to climb the social ladder by mingling w [...]

  7. From Wiki A Buyer s Market is the second novel in Anthony Powell s twelve novel series, A Dance to the Music of Time Published in 1952, it continues the story of narrator Nick Jenkins with his introduction into society after boarding school and university.The book presents new characters, notably the painter Mr Deacon and his dubious female acquaintance Gypsy Jones, as well as reappearances by Jenkins school friends Peter Templer, Charles Stringham and Kenneth Widmerpool The action takes place i [...]

  8. I am quite mesmerised by Anthony Powell s style now that I have got used to it The long rolling sentences remind me in a way of the themes in Rachmaninov s symphonies, which roll on and on and sweep the listener with them The following description of one of the characters gives a flavour of Powell s style She dressed usually in tones of brown and green, colours that gave her for some reason, possibly because her hats almost always conveyed the impression of being peaked, an air of belonging to s [...]

  9. In book 2, Nick and his school friends are in their 20 s, and have entered the real world of work and pleasure The excellent writing continues, with intimations of complications ahead.

  10. In this, the second novel in Powell s twelve volume series, A Dance to the Music of Time and the books absolutely must be read sequentially , new personages are introduced Mr Deacon, Barnby, Barbara Goring, the Walpole Wilsons and Widmerpool reappears The events in the book occur four or five years following those in the previous book, A Question of Upbringing, during which interval Nick has not seen Charles Stringham In chapter after chapter, indeed in novel after novel, characters and themes w [...]

  11. It s interesting to see Nick Jenkins and the other young men from A Question of Upbringing in their 20s in the 20s Some fascinating new characters emerge Lots of art and social commentary But mostly the deliciously wonderful writing that just rolls over the reader in a salty surf of words.

  12. A BUYER S MARKET, the second volume of Anthony Powell s 12 volume sequence A Dance to the Music of Times is a considerably ambitious work than the first While A QUESTION OF UPBRINGING was an enjoyable if something lightweight look back at narrator Nicholas Jenkins days at school and university, now we see him entering the ballrooms of high society while also discovering the London demimonde of the late 1920s The novel is impressive in form also Nearly the entire first half of the novel is dedic [...]

  13. Nothing in the first novel of ADMT really prepares you for this There you get short introductions to characters, traditional plot movements, transparent prose and above all variety With A Buyer s Market we re suddenly in the realm of Proust volume three, which is pretty much a party described over hundreds of pages Say what you will about Powell This is shorter than Le C t de Guermantes I wonder if Marias, anglophile that he is, took as much from Powell as from Proust to write Your Face Tomorrow [...]

  14. I found this difficult than Book 1 and it s taken me several weeks to finish I think I ve had, at least, two problems First, I ve had great difficulty caring about Powell s characters I don t need to like them After all, sometimes the most compelling characters are unlikeable But so far, I feel quite indifferent to them And there are dozens Their dialogue is opaque, their motivations murky and their stories meaningless to me And perhaps that s because what I m experiencing is cultural dissonanc [...]

  15. Each of the novels of ADTTMOT makes a claim with varying degrees of conviction to stand alone, with characters and plots resolved within a single volume The intricate, lopsided, A Buyer s Market follows two such strands First, the life of Edgar Deacon, a bad painter and family friend of narrator Nick Jenkins whose reappearance helps put in motion his escape from the world of balls and debutantes the book opens in Second, Nick s troubles with women, an overlapping series of largely passive romant [...]

  16. Avec une acuit , un sens de la pr cision et de la nuance presque obsessif, qui s appuie sur moult appositions et circonstants, et qui exige du lecteur une attention de tous les instants, M Powell, dans la foul e du premier volet de cette longue suite romanesque, propose une forme expressive dont la complexit n a peut tre d autre but que d pouser la complexit des relations humaines dans un milieu ferm comme celui qu il d crit Complexit sur l axe synchronique, mais surtout, aussi, sur l axe diachr [...]

  17. A logical continuation on from the first book, that sees Jenkins and friends flirt with society life and become rather self reflective because of it While I m not quite invested in the characters yet the story needs come conflict they are growing on me, but I think the plot needs to expand somewhat before their lives have some context.It is a better book that the first though Powell s prose remains a key attraction and I found London society life interesting that the school days of the previous [...]

  18. It is considered an axiom that a writer should have an exciting beginning to a novel to draw readers in and encourage them to continue Anthony Powell starts with a discourse about a minor, unfashionable artist Nick s parents knew and he met a few times before mentioning Barbara Goring, Nick s first and possibly only serious love We also know, quite early in the book, that Nick and Barbara s romance does not prosper to a happy conclusion because later he is no longer invited to dine with her uncl [...]

  19. Second time round still wonderful Nick, Widmerpool, Stringham, Mr Deacon and the gang go round the merry go round of time again in a buyers market for love, power and art But don t blink the door is open for a moment and then shuts again with some players off the Field and the stakes higher Powell has been called the British Proust and the subject is the passing of time and the life lived within And Powell is so hilarious and entertaining with set pieces of four parties in the 1920s The writing [...]

  20. Bohemians and freeloaders, socialites and beautiful people are all in a hurry to partake in the agitated stirrings at the bottom of high society Although these relatively exotic embellishments to the scene occurred within a framework on the whole commonplace enough, the shifting groups of the party created, as a spectacle, illusion of moving within the actual confines of a picture or tapestry, into the depths of which the personality of each new arrival had to be automatically amalgamated Viciss [...]

  21. Fascinating, extraordinary, sublime, lyrical and, well, of the same.I recently discovered and somewhat skeptically embarked upon Powell s epic series, A Dance to the Music of Time, and frankly, not really knowing what I was getting into was quite taken with the first installment For better or worse, the second installment this book was entirely consistent a seamless progression through the narrator protagonist s life and maturation discovery finding his way discerning his position in the dance [...]

  22. Book two of Antony Powell s cycle of twelve novels sees Nicholas Jenkins move into early adulthood Early friendships wither while once unexpected ones develop Characters disappear and then return later to the dance of time The once easily dismissed, Widmerpool sees his star start to rise through sheer tenacity and determination to get on rather than any great talent and despite a far from appealing personality The mysterious industrialist and politician, Sir Magnus Donners also appears surprisin [...]

  23. This is a strange book very readable, and yet very little seems to happen It s almost as it s setting up a plot that is barely begun when the book rather abruptly ends It s a while since I read the first book in the series, which was a bit of a disadvantage, as you keep having to try and refer back to the first book, where possible, to figure out who so and so is plainly it s someone we should remember from the first episode Anyway, those two minor criticisms aside, it s an intriguing narrative, [...]

  24. This for me was rather slow going I got quickly tired of the parties, of Sillery, of some of the hyperboles, and the main character s apparent detachment from most that is going on around him he is the narrator who does not seem to add much to an omniscient narrator s voice I am glad I got this as part of the movement set of three volumes, as I might have otherwise let the series go.

  25. Binge ReadingI didn t know how I was going to read this series Would I read another book in between each instalment Perhaps read two in a row, then something else Three Halfway through A Question of Upbringing the every second book option was in front my attention wavered a little during the French scenes But by the end of that volume, I knew I had to pick up the next one straight away And halfway through A Buyer s Market I knew I d read the whole series as though it was one huge novel At time o [...]

  26. The second volume of Anthony Powell s great roman fleuve is a densely wrought mesh of intense human relationships largely played out at a sequence of parties in the fashionable London society of the late twenties Characters from the first book pass through the pages of the second and a vast range of new ones make their first appearance it can be tricky trying to keep up with who is who and how they are related to each other Powell s writing is extraordinary highly sophisticated, intense and subt [...]

  27. The second novel in Dance to the Music of Time is an entry into the world Marriages are made , careers pursued friendships revived or forgotten Nick is gradually becoming himself There s something of Christopher Isherwood here as well as the obvious Proust influence.

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