free hit counter code The Military Philosophers - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Military Philosophers

Availability: Ready to download

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.”


Compare
Ads Banner

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.”

30 review for The Military Philosophers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    “The Military Philosophers” is the third and final part of the Autumn sequence in the Dance to the Music of Time. It also covers the second world war up to the time of final victory. As usual, I looked into the first pages for a powerful, allegoric image to set the mood and to act as a catalyst for the flow of memories. I’m not sure I hit the right spot or if I’m simply lucky, because I have two images for the price of one admission: First, there is a reiteration of the feelings of alienation and “The Military Philosophers” is the third and final part of the Autumn sequence in the Dance to the Music of Time. It also covers the second world war up to the time of final victory. As usual, I looked into the first pages for a powerful, allegoric image to set the mood and to act as a catalyst for the flow of memories. I’m not sure I hit the right spot or if I’m simply lucky, because I have two images for the price of one admission: First, there is a reiteration of the feelings of alienation and inadequacy as Nick Jenkins struggles to adapt to the World of Will, now with the narrator marooned within the endless corridors and darkened rooms of a Whitehall building: Endemic as ghouls in an Arabian cemetery, harassed aggressive shades lingered for ever in such cells to impose on each successive inmate their preoccupations and anxieties, crowding him from floor and bed, invading and distorting his dreams. Secondly, there is a musical reference underlining the grotesque, pointless and often humorous aspects of administrative work in this alien landscape. Jenkins compares one of his fellow inmates to the dwarf singing the opening aria of a famous Wagnerian opera: “Labour unending Toil without fruit! The strongest sword That I ever forged ...” From this inauspicious beginnings though, emerges one of the most unusual and intriguing episodes of the Dance so far. Because it turns out that Nick Jenkins is not as clueless and as inefficient as he led us to believe. He’s finally found his niche in the immense machinery of war and, even in his small cog role, he puts his talents to good use in the service to his country. As a liaison officer between the British and their different allied nations in Europe, Jenkins has more of a diplomatic, socializing role than the Regimental front line commanding officer he failed at in the previous book. His upbringing, his cultural and social talents, his calm, detached atitude are all good assets for dealing with Polish, Belgian, French, Slovak, Yugoslavs and other exotic officers now fighting the war from the British soil. Jenkins is even showing signs of a reawakened interest in the study of ‘la comedie humaine’ that first led him to become a writer: A claustrophobic existence offered, in this respect, the consolation of exceptional opportunities for observing people and situations closely in a particular aspect of war. The move back to London marks also a return to the ‘gossip column’ aspect that defined for me some of the prewar episodes of the Dance. What makes this book special is that the ‘gossip’ takes a turn toward a high octane spy game involving several of the ‘old’ characters in the series, like Widmerpool, Farebrother, Odo Stevens, a mysterious foreigner whose name might or might not be Szymanski, Balkan royalty and a ‘femme fatale’ that keeps showing up in the most unexptected locations, not unlike Widmerpool in previous episodes. I am slightly reluctant to go into details about the relationship between these characters, mostly because, unlike previous installments, book number nine actually has a plot of sorts, the above mentioned spy game that (view spoiler)[ ends tragically for one major character, Peter Templer, and the evil mastermind turns out to be Widmerpool, who becomes more and more repulsive with each new book (hide spoiler)] . I can still comment though on the character study, the big selling point of Anthony Powell, the ace in the hole that, together with his inimitable phrase contruction, makes the Dance one of the major artistic achievements of the period. Characters usually fall into one of two broad categories as far as Powell is concerned : manipulators, denizens of the world of Will, and contemplators, or artists. Given the war setting, the first category is in the ascendant, a move already predicted by the actions of Widmerpool in the previous novel. A single, effective quote will I believe suffice to define the category in the guise of one of the ‘players’, Sunny Farebrother: He does put himself over. A remarkable fellow in his way. Ambitious as hell, stops at nothing. As a side note, Powell can unleash some powerful satirical broadsides from his contemplative battlements. The funniest episode for me was the revenge one of the ‘philosphers’ (Pennistone) exacts from one the petty tyrants that seem to gather like sharks to the smell of blood in the halls of government power. I’m talking around the epitome of the abusive clerk here, a figure of almost mythical proportions : Until you have dealings with Blackhead, the word “bureaucrat” will have conveyed no meaning to you. (view spoiler)[ fight them with their own weapons, Pennistone advises, as he sends back a twenty page memo with a request for additional commentary (hide spoiler)] Pennistone is I believe the ‘philosopher’ in the title. I seem to remember he was quoting some French aphorism when he first met Jenkins in book number seven. Now he connects the dots in the liaison business and converses with Jenkins about the real politiks world: A great illusion is that government is carried on by an infallible, incorruptible machine. Officials – all officials, of all governments – are just as capable of behaving in an irregular manner as anyone else. Irregular behaviour in this part of the Dance revolves around the intriguing and ubiquitous presence of the beautiful Pamela Flytton, a young lady that seems to bear witness to American Pulps claim that the ‘female of the species is deadlier than the male’. For a while, in the opening pages of the novel, I thought that Nick Jenkins is flirting with adultery, given his fascination with Miss Flytton. I should have remembered our narrator reluctance to be candid about his own love life and his tendency to play coy with details of his marriage. Jenkins is definitely more of a voyeur than a player in this field: Few subjects are more fascinating than other people’s sexual habits from the outside; the tangled strands of appetite, tenderness, convenience or some hope of gain. Miss Flytton turns out to be much more than ‘the other woman’. She is at least the equal, if not the master of the men of will, like Widmerpool, Farebrother, Odo Stevens, Bob Duport and their ilk. Her motivations are obscure, and only another master of dissimulation and allegory is capable of geting a grip on her personality. I am hinting here at the return of another fascinating character of the Dance, the medium, Cassandra-like Mrs Erdleigh, who takes a look at the palm of Pamela during an air-raid: What do most people know about any of their fellows? Little enough. Only those know, who are aware what is to be revealed. He may have betrayed the day of your birth. I do not remember. The rest I can tell from your beautiful face, my dear. You will not mind if I say that your eyes have something in them of the divine serpent that tempted Eve herself. Mrs. Erdleigh continues by quoting a French chiromancy expert : ‘... la debauche, l’effronterie, la licence, le devergondage, la coquetterie, la vanite, l’esprit leger, l’inconstance, la paresse ...’ reinforcing the femme fatale image already established in earlier observations by Nick: Giving men hell is what Miss Flitton likes. - - - Pamela Flitton gave the impression of being thoroughly vicious, using the word not so much in the moral sense, but as one might speak of a horse – more specifically, a mare. Men line up though to be abused and insulted and dumped like used handkerchiefs by the beautiful Pamela, and in typical Powell fashion, we are warned that we might expect to see more of her dancing in the future. She’s just too good a character to waste after one novel. (view spoiler)[ She is hilariously compared to a bombshell as she is finally linked to the other Nemesis of Jenkins’ life: During the period between the Potsdam Conference and the dropping of the first atomic bomb, I read in the paper one morning that Widmerpool was engaged to Pamela Flitton. . They deserve each other, yet I despair of the results of their collaboration. Templer is an early victim of their machinations (hide spoiler)] I am overusing spoilers in my current review, but I would still like to mention some of my favorite characters from previous books, and what they end up doing or dying here. A more slick and adept female manipulator than Miss Flytton is ending not only engaged to her male counterpart, but also as one of the top agents at MI5 (view spoiler)[: Tuffy Weedon dates Sunny Farebrother. She is a widow after her husband, General Conyers, dies in service to his country. Conyers is one of my all time favorites, and his send-up is appropriately respectful: General Conyers, also an air-raid warden, had collapsed in the street one night, pursuing looters attempting to steal a refrigerator from a bombed house. He died, as he had lived, in active, dramatic, unusual circumstances; such, one felt, as he himself would have preferred. Widmerpool is not forgotten. His entrances have become more predictable, but his ego and his ambitions grow to monstrous proportions: I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy power. That is something the war has taught me. In this connexion, it has more than once occured to me that I might like governing ... (hide spoiler)] >><<>><<>><< Slowly, painfully, the war grinds its way towards an end. Nick Jenkins’ graduation into the world of Will is a subtle reference to a quote of his Uncle Giles, all the way back into the first volume of the series. Giles used to claim that in this world it is important who you know, not what you are, and Nick applies the principle to the solving of a pressing military crisis. (view spoiler)[ He uses back channels and family connections, bypassing his superior Finn, in order to expedite the movement of a dangerous militia from Belgium to England: “If the worst comes to the worst we can invoke Matilda.” (hide spoiler)] . His newly acquired skills are also on display during a trip to recently liberated Normandy, riding herd on a group of fractious and colourful foreign high officers. Some of the details here are supposed to be autobiographical, inspired directly from the author’s war experience, and the best example I have is the portrait of an unnamed but easily recognizable Field Marshal: The eyes were deepset and icy cold. You thought at once of an animal, though a creature not at all in the stylized manner of the two colonels at my Divisional Headquarters, reminiscent of the dog-faced and bird-faced Egyptian deities. No such artificial formality shaped these features, and to say, for example, they resembled those of a fox or ferret would be to imply a disparagement not at all sought. Did the features, in fact, suggest some mythical beast, say one of those encountered in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, full of awkward questions and downright statements? The visit to Normandy serves a second purpose in reaffirming the almost forgotten artistic credentials of Nick Jenkins. For a second time in the current novel, we have open and unambiguous references to Marcel Proust’s magnum opus, “A la recherche du temps perdu”. After a London full quote of a diplomatic ball given by the Duchess of Guermantes, Jenkins is now captivated by the atmosphere of Cabourg, the source of inspiration for Combray, I think. The final pages of the novel are infused with pathos and truly raise the rating from a high four to a full five star treatment. Friends departed are remembered in an emotional St Paul’s Cathedral service after the victory: Some are sick and some are sad, And some have never loved one well, And some lost the love they had [...] Fading is the world’s best pleasure. The return to civilian life after six long years of war, with all the insecurity and the broken ends in need of pick up, the memory of a prewar society probably gone forever, are showcased in a monumental scene in a repurposed exhibition hall, in the fitting company of one of the ballroom butterflies of yesteryear: We wandered around like men in a dream. As one moved from suits to shoes, shoes to socks, socks back again to suits, the face of a Gunner captain seemed familiar. The last surprise return of a previous Dancer ,(view spoiler)[ Jenkins’ former lover Jean Duport (hide spoiler)] , raises an already high interest I have in next month’s episode, “Books Do Furnish A Room”, my favorite title in the series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Engrave no battle on his cheek, With war I've naught to do, I'm none of those that took Maestrick, Nor Yarmouth Leaguer knew. -- 'Vulcan, contrive me such a cup', John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester This is the last book in the Fall/WWII trilogy (3rd Movement) of A Dance to the Music of Time. It was at once the saddest of the series so far and also the most Proustian, with several direct quotations from Remembrance of Things Past and also several geographies in common with that other monster of 20th "Engrave no battle on his cheek, With war I've naught to do, I'm none of those that took Maestrick, Nor Yarmouth Leaguer knew. -- 'Vulcan, contrive me such a cup', John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester This is the last book in the Fall/WWII trilogy (3rd Movement) of A Dance to the Music of Time. It was at once the saddest of the series so far and also the most Proustian, with several direct quotations from Remembrance of Things Past and also several geographies in common with that other monster of 20th Century fiction. The book had me hooked from the first couple paragraphs. To me, at least, it resembled (in a less funky and mad way) the opening section of Europe Central? You know the part. The very beginning too. Where, STEEL IN MOTION, with a black telephone/Signal Corps octopus vibrating, ringing, somnambulating, sleepwalking, eavesdropping, gloating as Europe Central buzzes. See, here from the first couple pages of 'The Military Philosophers': "from the secret radio Spider, calling and testing in the small hours..." "Endemic as ghouls in an Arabian cemetery, harassed aggressive shades lingered for ever in such cells to impose on each successive inmate their preoccupations and anxieties, crowding him from floor and bed, invading and distorting dreams. Once in a way a teleprinter would break down, suddenly ceasing to belch forth its broad paper shaft, the column instead crumpling to stop in mid-air like waters of a frozen cataract." Without giving too much away (meetings are held, rockets scream, people die, but the Allies eventually win) this novel centers on WWII from about 1942 to the end of the war. The war, except for the bombs and the V2 rockets is largely fought elsewhere by other friends. Nick is engaged primarily as a liaison officer (first with the Poles and then with the Belgians, etc.) where he learns how to maneuver through bureaucracy and personalities. Widerpool again (and also Pamela) seem to both act as catalysts whose actions impact heavily the lives around them. I think it is also worth posting the Nestor poem in full that I (and Powell) borrowed a verse from: Vulcan, contrive me such a cup, As Nestor us'd of old; Show all thy skill to trim it up, Damask it round with gold. Make it so large, that, fill'd with sack, Up to the swelling brim, Vast toasts on the delicious lake, Like ships at sea, may swim. Engrave no battle on his cheek, With war I've nought to do, I'm none of those that took Maestrick, Nor Yarmouth Leaguer knew. Let it no name of planets tell, Fix'd stars, or constellations; For I am no Sir Sidrophel, Nor none of his relations. But carve thereon a spreading vine, Then add two lovely boys; Their limbs in amorous folds entwine, The type of future joys. Cupid and Bacchus my saints are, May Drink and Love still reign! With wine I wash away my cares, And then to love again. In war time it is always interesting to see the interactions between the soldiers in the field and the POGs* (persons other than grunts). Powell plays with this a bit. Jenkins and Widerpool aren't exactly "safe" but their positions during the war keep them primarily in London. The war is being fought by other men. There is also tension between the above ground and below ground (secret) elements of the war. Again, towards the end of these war trilogies we see clothing used to convey the idea of the war as a play. One costume is exchanged for another as Jenkins is demobbed. * this was a term I was first introduced to by my little brother who served as a "foot" or a "grunt" with 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    The battles thunder far away and the protagonist finds himself in the General Staff, wading through the swamp of military bureaucracy, fighting the war wrapped in red tape… There could be no doubt, so I was finally forced to decide, that the longer one dealt with them, the more one developed the habit of treating generals like members of the opposite sex; specifically, like ladies no longer young, who therefore deserve extra courtesy and attention; indeed, whose every whim must be given thought. The battles thunder far away and the protagonist finds himself in the General Staff, wading through the swamp of military bureaucracy, fighting the war wrapped in red tape… There could be no doubt, so I was finally forced to decide, that the longer one dealt with them, the more one developed the habit of treating generals like members of the opposite sex; specifically, like ladies no longer young, who therefore deserve extra courtesy and attention; indeed, whose every whim must be given thought. This was particularly applicable if one were out in the open with a general. Senior officers combat each other and those of subordinate rank and their warfare comprises scheming, conspiring, manipulations, machinations, collusions, trickery, double-dealing, chicanery… The war is over and those who hadn’t gone missing are awarded – some with medals, some with tombstones.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Earlier this evening, notgettingenough and I were arguing about Harry Potter. Not, despite having posted a review that has reduced several Potter fans to sputtering incoherence, was perversely taking me to task for my own rather more moderate effort. For about the hundredth time (I sometimes wonder whether we talk about anything else on Goodreads), I said that I'd quite liked the early books, but found the later volumes, and their implacable marketing, almost a direct insult to my intelligence. Earlier this evening, notgettingenough and I were arguing about Harry Potter. Not, despite having posted a review that has reduced several Potter fans to sputtering incoherence, was perversely taking me to task for my own rather more moderate effort. For about the hundredth time (I sometimes wonder whether we talk about anything else on Goodreads), I said that I'd quite liked the early books, but found the later volumes, and their implacable marketing, almost a direct insult to my intelligence. "Oh," said Not airily. "The later books in any series are a bit tired." Not and others: The Military Philosophers is volume nine in Powell, and it's one of the best ones. The book not only has a perfect internal construction, but also slots tightly into the overall arc of the series. We are in the closing stages of World War II; the narrator has been part of the war machine for over five years. In the background, Powell shows you in his wonderfully elliptical, understated way how Nick has become almost a stranger to his wife and young family. The majority of his thoughts are focused on the day-to-day business of being a low-level staff bureaucrat; every now and then, he has a little energy left over to keep his literary persona ticking over. Most of his close friends are dead. And yet, somehow, the surface tone is light and amusing, and the book can reasonably be described as a comedy. It contains many of my favorite passages, and I particularly love the segment where Nick is in charge of shepherding the delegation of senior foreign officers around newly reconquered France. Chu, the eccentric Chinese colonel, is fascinated with English public schools and wants to go to Eton. "You're too old," explains Nick. "I can make myself young," says Chu stubbornly. Then there is the scene where they are to be billeted in a house that only has one bathroom, and there's a mad scramble for the desirable room. The French general who got there first is gleefully unpacking his bags, when the much lower-ranking Indian officer explains that he has to have it. "It is my religion," he explains, in an embarrassed but firm tone. The Frenchman looks at him in bewilderment for a moment, then shrugs. "Well," he says, "I am a freethinker. What chance do I have?" And, at the end, the victory service in Saint Paul's Cathedral, where Nick has to find a seat for Flores, the man who has married Jean, and never suspects that Nick has thought about her every day since they parted several books earlier. Nick solves the little seating crisis and sits down, but is unable to concentrate. He allows himself to realise how unspeakably tired he is. In the excellent BBC adaptation, the fourth part - books 10, 11 and 12 - starts with Nick being played by a different actor. A bold and risky decision, but absolutely in keeping with the written version.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    At one stage of the service there had been a disturbance at the back of the church and someone afterwards said she had been sick in the font. Whoever had remarked that had found nothing surprising in unsatisfactory behavior from her. Someone else had commented: ‘That child’s a fiend.’ or, if you prefer, Takes place: early spring 1942, through August 1945. Nick Jenkins is in, even past, his mid-30s. Book published: 1968. Anthony Powell was 62 years old. Significant series characters (view spoil At one stage of the service there had been a disturbance at the back of the church and someone afterwards said she had been sick in the font. Whoever had remarked that had found nothing surprising in unsatisfactory behavior from her. Someone else had commented: ‘That child’s a fiend.’ or, if you prefer, Takes place: early spring 1942, through August 1945. Nick Jenkins is in, even past, his mid-30s. Book published: 1968. Anthony Powell was 62 years old. Significant series characters (view spoiler)[bold that appear in the very first novel (hide spoiler)] that visit the narrative (however briefly, dead or alive): Ralph Barnby, St John Clarke, General Conyers, Edgar Deacon, Sir Magnus Donners, Bob Duport, Mrs Erdleigh, Sunny Farebrother, Amy Foxe (Stringham’s mother), Captain Rowland Gwatkin, Isobel (Jenkins’ wife), Lady Molly & Ted Jeavons, Uncle Giles, Gypsy Jones, Chips Lovell, Hugh Moreland, David Pennistone, Sillery, Odo Stevens, Charles Stringham, Jean & Peter Templer, Dr Trelawney, Widmerpool. Jenkins’ nine siblings-in-law – (the Tollands) – are mostly absent from the narrative here, with only George, Norah and Priscilla finding mention. The main characters (as I reckon), in some order – David Pennistone, Widmerpool, Sunny Farebrother, Peter Templar, Odo Stevens, Major Kucherman, Charles Stringham, Sir Magnus Donners, and Isobel. It’s left to the reader (of this review) to decide which end of the list is the “most” and which the “least”. Major Kucherman has not appeared in the series before, and will not appear again. But as a military philosopher (and more so as “a well-known international figure”) Kucherman plays an interesting role in Powell’s fictional wrap up of the war. I’ve left one name off the main character list, which name should be placed at the “most” end. In the first chapter a young woman, driver for the philosophes and other ranks working around Whitehall, conveys Jenkins to a destination.After a few minutes beside her, it was clear this AT possessed in a high degree that power which all women – some men – command to a greater or lesser extent when in the mood, of projecting round them a sense of vast resentment. The girl driving, I noticed, was able to do this with quite superlative effect. Her rankling animosity against the world in general was discharged with adamantine force, comparable with Audrey Maclintick … or Anne Stepney … However, those two, although not without their admirers, were hardly in the same class as this girl when it came to looks … She was very striking.The driver, barely muttering a word for some minutes, suddenly speaks. ‘You’re Captain Jenkins, aren’t you?’ ‘I am.’ ‘I think you know my mother.’ ‘What’s your mother’s name?’ ‘Flavia Wisebite – but I’m Pamela Flitton. My father was her first husband.’ This was Stringham’s niece. I remembered her holding the bride’s train at his wedding. She must have been five or six years old then. Then follows Jenkins’ memory which is quoted at the review’s inception above. Thus does Powell, after introducing the five- or six-year-old bridesmaid in Buyer’s Market (written sixteen years earlier), resurrect her as a major character in this novel, and for the rest of the series. Now in this chapter (1942) she would be twenty or twenty-one years old. Several days prior, when Jenkins had first seen this driver, he had reflected,Very young, she was one of those girls with a dead white complexion and black hair, the only coloring capable of rising above the boundlessly unbecoming hue of khaki. Instead of the usual ATS tunic imposed by some higher authority anxious that the Corps should look, if not as masculine as possible, at least as Sapphic, she had managed to provide herself, as some did, with soldier’s battledress, paradoxically more adapted to the female figure.Well, enough of Pamela. Further exploration of the young woman’s character and adventures will no doubt be of interest to the reader of this book. - - - - - - At one point during the read, when Jenkins and others are attending a performance of The Bartered Bride, I reflected, "the narrative demonstrates that even in a horrendous war, if one is not on the front lines fighting, life goes on in ways that are only marginally affected by the overall conflict – even if one is actually a member of the armed forces. The background levels of concern, tragedy, and worry are, however, understandably amplified; and the psychological elements can have severe personal effects even in the rear of the action." The Philosophers Who are these “philosophers” of whom Powell here writes? There are a very few tempting uses of the word, but to me these seemed to be red herrings, leading nowhere really. David Pennistone, whose assistant Jenkins becomes in these years, does have his philosophical connections, mentioned in Invitation to the Dance. … expounds Alfred de Vigny’s military philosophy to Jenkins … [and is writing] “something awfully boring about Descartes” … Likes thinking about things. Vague on dates and places … brilliant on explaining the philosophic niceties or the minutiae of office dialectic. I think we need recourse to a more vague notion of a philosopher, perhaps as a person “calm and rational under any circumstances”, one who is more likely to excel in thinking things through, rather than in taking decisive action (beyond issuing orders). In a theme which ties in with that of the previous volume, Powell ventures that those who place themselves in personal danger become both the heroes and the casualties. The philosopher kings, who ultimately direct the enterprise from their Whitehall bastions (both above and below ground) bear the responsibility, and in the long view probably get the credit (or blame), for the outcome.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    The Military Philosophers (1968) is the ninth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time. Immediately preceded by The Valley of Bones (1964) and The Soldier's Art (1966), The Military Philosophers (1968) concludes the three books which cover the World War 2 years. These three books are right up there with Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh - there is, as you probably realise, no higher accolade. In this volume, narrator Nick is now working for Allied Liaison, as Penniston The Military Philosophers (1968) is the ninth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time. Immediately preceded by The Valley of Bones (1964) and The Soldier's Art (1966), The Military Philosophers (1968) concludes the three books which cover the World War 2 years. These three books are right up there with Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh - there is, as you probably realise, no higher accolade. In this volume, narrator Nick is now working for Allied Liaison, as Pennistone's assistant under Lieutenant Colonel Finn, responsible for relationships with Allied and neutral military missions in London which revealed an aspect of World War 2 that I had never really considered before and which also heralds the introduction of many new characters. In addition to the new characters, we also encounter many familiar characters from previous volumes, and The Military Philosophers contains dramatic new developments for many of them. Despite the inevitable and predictable tragedies that result from the war years, the book also contains some splendid humour, not least the marvellous description of uber-bureaucrat Mr Blackhead, and his superlative bureaucratic obstructionism. What a delight. I had to read the pages aloud to savour every nuance. Perhaps the most interesting new character is Pamela Flitton, the niece of Charles Stringham, who is the ultimate femme fatale and who makes some fascinating liaisons throughout the book and is responsible for many of the book's most memorable moments. The books ends with a victory service at St. Paul's cathedral, to mark the end of the War, shortly after which Nick Jenkins is demobbed. Having now read nine of the twelve books I cannot wait to see what peacetime has in store for the characters that feature in the A Dance to the Music of Time series. As with every other book in the A Dance to the Music of Time series, The Military Philosophers is beautifully written and a multi-faceted story that both delights and intrigues. 5/5

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    With this volume, WWII is over. Nick and his friends and family, (the ones still alive) can carry on. Six years of war, and the country is tired. I can feel the exhaustion as well, and am ready for the final 3 installments of this excellent series.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    The ninth volume of the series, The Military Philosophers, is set during 1942-45. Nick Jenkins is working as a military liaison to a Polish Allied contingent stationed in London. Nick's job is mainly administrative. There are humorous moments as he deals with Mr Blackhead, one of the worst paper pushers imaginable, who generates mounds of red tape. The dreadful Kenneth Widmerpool appears again, moving up the military ladder. He gets involved with Pamela Flitton, a beautiful but angry woman. It's The ninth volume of the series, The Military Philosophers, is set during 1942-45. Nick Jenkins is working as a military liaison to a Polish Allied contingent stationed in London. Nick's job is mainly administrative. There are humorous moments as he deals with Mr Blackhead, one of the worst paper pushers imaginable, who generates mounds of red tape. The dreadful Kenneth Widmerpool appears again, moving up the military ladder. He gets involved with Pamela Flitton, a beautiful but angry woman. It's hard to decide which of them is the more obnoxious and narcissistic. Nick acts mainly as an observer, and we learn about characters from previous books who died in the London Blitz or on the battlefield. The book ends with a General Thanksgiving Service at St Paul's Cathedral, and Nick's demobilization from the army. The mood in the country seems to be one of exhaustion, rather than elation, as everyone emotionally deals with such a great loss of life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    This wonderful work continues to delight. As is inevitable in war, there are more casualties among Nick's friends. But there are still hilarious moments as he comes up against bureaucracy in full cry. Blackhead is a notorious pedant whose minutes "have the abstract quality of pure extension". One splendid example of "three and a half pages on the theory and practice of soap issues for military personnel, with especial reference to the Polish Women's Corps" was hilariously inscribed by Nick's bos This wonderful work continues to delight. As is inevitable in war, there are more casualties among Nick's friends. But there are still hilarious moments as he comes up against bureaucracy in full cry. Blackhead is a notorious pedant whose minutes "have the abstract quality of pure extension". One splendid example of "three and a half pages on the theory and practice of soap issues for military personnel, with especial reference to the Polish Women's Corps" was hilariously inscribed by Nick's boss "Please amplify." The reader can imagine Powell treasuring such experiences for later use in his brilliant books. This volume ends with Nick's demobilisation at the end of the war. I look forward to reading the last three volumes as he deals with postwar Britain.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    I really enjoyed this novel, though it's possibly not my favourite in the series. Such a great read regardless.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    I can't speak highly enough of Powell's ninth instalment of his Dance to the Music of Time. Jenkins (now Major) sees out the war in liaison with Allies, be they Poles or Czechs or Belgians, even venturing out to France with a party of them to check on the progress towards Berlin. Widmerpool finds power and love, but not necessarily in the same place and past ghosts reappear in the forms of old loves and cuckolded husbands. The humour is first-rate (Pennistone's acerbic comment on an over-detaile I can't speak highly enough of Powell's ninth instalment of his Dance to the Music of Time. Jenkins (now Major) sees out the war in liaison with Allies, be they Poles or Czechs or Belgians, even venturing out to France with a party of them to check on the progress towards Berlin. Widmerpool finds power and love, but not necessarily in the same place and past ghosts reappear in the forms of old loves and cuckolded husbands. The humour is first-rate (Pennistone's acerbic comment on an over-detailed minute from an obfuscating pen-pusher, "Please amplify", will certainly make its way into my working life), the writing is as casually elegant as always and the sense of tiredness and lack of triumphalism at the St. Paul's Victory service is conveyed with serene brilliance. I dread and yet keenly anticipate what peace time will bring.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the ninth of twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time. First published in 1968, it covers the latter part of Nicholas Jenkins' service in World War II. It depicts, with ironic detachment, a little-chronicled byway of the war effort, Allied Liaison. 4* A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) 4* A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2) 4* The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3) 4* At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4) 4* C This is the ninth of twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time. First published in 1968, it covers the latter part of Nicholas Jenkins' service in World War II. It depicts, with ironic detachment, a little-chronicled byway of the war effort, Allied Liaison. 4* A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) 4* A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2) 4* The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3) 4* At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4) 4* Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5) 4* The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6) 4* The Valley of Bones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7) 4* The Soldier's Art (A Dance to the Music of Time, #8) 4* The Military Philosophers (A Dance to the Music of Time, #9) TR Books Do Furnish a Room (A Dance to the Music of Time, #10) TR Temporary Kings (A Dance to the Music of Time, #11) TR Hearing Secret Harmonies (A Dance to the Music of Time, #12)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Renee M

    What strikes me about the three books in this section of Dance to the Music of Time, is how understated they are. And how powerful that understatement can be in deft hands. We know we are at war and yet most of the conversations are so darned pedestrian. The frustrations, red tape, personality conflicts, day to day choices of living and interacting. Then, wham, something happens that puts it all into the stark relief of impending death. And even that is understated... Which somehow makes it so r What strikes me about the three books in this section of Dance to the Music of Time, is how understated they are. And how powerful that understatement can be in deft hands. We know we are at war and yet most of the conversations are so darned pedestrian. The frustrations, red tape, personality conflicts, day to day choices of living and interacting. Then, wham, something happens that puts it all into the stark relief of impending death. And even that is understated... Which somehow makes it so real it chokes you. Even the events of this installment pack a punch. A very isn't-it-all-so-human punch as Nick maneuvers through the post-war days, sorting through the pieces that remain and resurface.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    World War II is now well under way in this ninth volume of Powell’s twelve volume series, “The Dance to the Music of Time,” and the narrator, Nick Jenkins, continues to be in the army in an administrative support role in Britain. He is often involved with interacting with military representatives of countries occupied by the Axis powers, especially the Poles, and Powell provides interesting insights into the roles played by these groups as they sought to influence Allied war aims. Nick’s duties World War II is now well under way in this ninth volume of Powell’s twelve volume series, “The Dance to the Music of Time,” and the narrator, Nick Jenkins, continues to be in the army in an administrative support role in Britain. He is often involved with interacting with military representatives of countries occupied by the Axis powers, especially the Poles, and Powell provides interesting insights into the roles played by these groups as they sought to influence Allied war aims. Nick’s duties are so consuming that the narrative gives little attention to the life of civilians; we know only that his wife Isobel and their son are somewhere “safe in the countryside.” Inevitably, persons that he has encountered and known over the years before the war cross his path now and then, and such interactions are always interesting, sometimes awkward. Dialogue for Powell almost never is transparent, characters almost always saying less or other than they mean or intend, and in this respect his scenes are very reminiscent of real life. As the series progresses, Nick himself seems to open more to the reader, his own emotions and thoughts being more revealed, thus gradually rounding out the character of the narrator, and this is fascinating, inasmuch as it is like learning more about a person whom one has long known and about whom one thought there was little new to be understood. When Nick finally arrives in France, for example, during the German withdrawal, he finds himself in Cabourg and suddenly realizes that this is Proust’s Balbec, the recognition opening a long internal monologue about Proust that illuminates much about Nick himself. Inevitably, friends and relatives die in the war - Peter Templer, Charles Stringham - while others, like the recurrently-encountered Kenneth Widmerpool, continue their inexorable upward journeys in society, in Widmerpool’s case included at the end of the book what would seem to be a marriage doomed from the start. Nick, ruminating on him, muses, “Widmerpool…an archetypal figure, one of those fabulous monsters that haunt the recesses of the individual imagination, …held an immutable place in my own private mythology.” At the end of the book, World War II has just ended. The final twenty pages relate a national memorial service in England, the parting of companions, and Nick’s demobilization from the army. In his extended reflections on his experiences of the prior six years, Nick’s mood is one of great poignancy, and Powell has captured an ambiance and ambivalent quietude in a way that is remarkable for its perceptiveness and sensitivity. This is great writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Arukiyomi

    Not my favourite in the series by any means, this volume charts the end of the war and Nick’s subsequent demobbing. The writing carries on in its normal vein with the usual insight into a whole host of characters excepting the narrator himself. Widmerpool features heavily of course and a certain romantic attachment gets more focus than usual. There are however lots of passages dealing with the all to unfascinating intricacies of Allied administration. These bored the pants off me. To liven things Not my favourite in the series by any means, this volume charts the end of the war and Nick’s subsequent demobbing. The writing carries on in its normal vein with the usual insight into a whole host of characters excepting the narrator himself. Widmerpool features heavily of course and a certain romantic attachment gets more focus than usual. There are however lots of passages dealing with the all to unfascinating intricacies of Allied administration. These bored the pants off me. To liven things up, there’s an air raid seen from the roof of a block of flats with a nice range of characters responding to it including the apocalyptic Mrs Erdleigh. I doubt anyone would mark this as the most readable of the lot, but it is significant in introducing Pamela Flitton who plays a significant and certainly dramatic role as the book nears its terminus.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Of the twelve volumes, this was the toughest one for me, as we've lost some characters during WW2 and England has been devastated again by this second war of the 20th century. Still, Powell's writing is powerful while communicating pain.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    War brings death, political intrigue, moral compromise, exhaustion. So, Powell's tone, despite comic moments, is sadness for lost friends, hopes, ideals, years.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Catullus2

    More war, more war until finally the allies win. Pamela Flitton slices her way through the men of London.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have not read a lot of books about World War II, either fiction of non-fiction, and didn’t know what to expect heading into the three-part section of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time that dealt with the war years. The novels up to book VII, which begins Britain’s involvement in the war, while ranging near and far in Nick’s travels into manhood, were mostly in the style of novels of manners, so I was interested to see if we were thrown into the thick of battle or if the style persi I have not read a lot of books about World War II, either fiction of non-fiction, and didn’t know what to expect heading into the three-part section of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time that dealt with the war years. The novels up to book VII, which begins Britain’s involvement in the war, while ranging near and far in Nick’s travels into manhood, were mostly in the style of novels of manners, so I was interested to see if we were thrown into the thick of battle or if the style persisted. Given that Nick and his friends were deep in their thirties when the war began, they were not placed anywhere on the front lines. In fact, Nick worried about how he could enlist quickly given the handicap of his age. Nick did manage to enlist, and after working in different posts in England through books VII and VIII came into the lasting position of his military career in Book IX, that of managing the attaches from first Poland and then Norway and Belgium. These final positions had him stationed in London. As a result of these matters, Powell is able to maintain his tone and style even as the war rages on in the form of blitzes and the reports of those who have fallen. Not only does it suit Powell’s style, but it’s also a fascinating way to recount the war. Of these last three books, the second one, The Soldier’s Art, was to me the most enjoyable because we spent the most time with characters we had been following before the war broke out. But this latest book, book IX, The Military Philosophers, was the most interesting from an historical perspective. So little time can be devoted to the war in our history classes that we really only get the highlights of the big moments in the war. I had never even given thought to the political relationship between the greater powers and those of the smaller countries on the side of the Allies. Powell’s focus is always on the movement of time and people, so he does not spend a lot of time uncovering the lives and political nuances of the situation, and while his coverage is sufficient to let us know the general ins and outs of Nick’s life, I found the quick skim over the surface of things made it difficult to really submerge myself in the fiction. Because we weren’t diving down, I found myself becoming impatient and wanting to rush through the chapters to find an encounter in which we could spend some time. It can be tempting to rush through what seems like humdrum material in Powell’s books, and I needed constantly to remind myself to slow down for two reasons. First, the prose is so beautifully constructed that it would be a waste to blow past the sentences in search of a chapter. Second, Powell is writing something that is much larger than any one book, attempting to capture the very motions and patterns of life as we live it, which means things that are humdrum today can prove to be critical tomorrow. Powell is not interested in wasting anyone’s time, least of all his own, and I have to believe that what is laid out for us here is important not only at the moment but also down the line. Powell shows his power as an author most readily in his concluding chapters. The final chapter of The Military Philosophers is not only the final chapter of this one book, but the final chapter of this trilogy on World War II. The war’s ending is celebrated and the lives that wereonce pulled together begin once again to separate, and Powell takes his time beautifully gathering each thread and placing them together, revisiting once forgotten moments as Nick sorts his thoughts out about the last five years of his life. It was a fantastic ending to three enjoyable, though at times tedious, books.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    The Military Philosophers by Anthony Powell Spoiler alert: as I start writing a few notes on this novel, I am not sure how much of the plot will be revealed This is the ninth novel of A Dance to The Music of Time. There have been some parts which made me think less of this part than of the rest, but it may just be that I loved the other eight that I had read that I was expecting another thunderous piece of entertainment. Then there is the question of the war. Even if we are not taken in the midst The Military Philosophers by Anthony Powell Spoiler alert: as I start writing a few notes on this novel, I am not sure how much of the plot will be revealed This is the ninth novel of A Dance to The Music of Time. There have been some parts which made me think less of this part than of the rest, but it may just be that I loved the other eight that I had read that I was expecting another thunderous piece of entertainment. Then there is the question of the war. Even if we are not taken in the midst of it all, but rather stay on the sidelines, the gloomy atmosphere of a war may have, indeed should have an impact on a book where the action takes place during a world conflagration. We meet some of the characters from the other novels, but some have died: Peter Te4mpler and Charles Stringham are just of those who died in the last major war. Nick Jenkins is not only following in the footsteps of Marcel Proust but writing about him and including some long passages in the novel, dealing with the Turkish Ambassadress. There is a new star appearance and her name is Pamela Flitton. As she is attractive, interesting, rude and mysterious I expected a relationship to develop between her and Nicholas. Pamela has affairs all through the book, with various English or Polish warriors, provoking scandal all the way through. In the end, astonishingly she ends up married to Widmerpool. I look forward to reading the three novels left to find out how Pamela will make this obnoxious man suffer for all the misery and death he has provoked. At a reception there is a scandal between Miss Flitton and colonel (by now) Widmerpool. She accuses him of killing Peter Templer. And the evil man did recommend that all support be withdrawn from Templer, who died in a secret mission. If we add to this the fact that the same Widmerpool had been responsible for sending Stringham to his death in Singapore, just to avoid any possible hindrance to his own advancement, we have a clear picture of who is the main villain in A Dance to The Music of Time. Looking at the bigger picture, we have a look at the atrocities of war, in the killing of thousands of Polish officers, about half their total number, at Katin.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tom Ewing

    By all accounts the Dance's most autobiographical volume yet, The Military Philosophers' concludes the series bureaucratic engagement with World War II (and with military-cum-office life), chronicling Nick Jenkins' work with Allied Liaison - a parade of Poles, Czechs, Belgians and Brazilians who flit in and out of the book. If I'm honest, it makes for the least enjoyable volume so far, as the turnover of bit parts - hectic even for ADTTMOT, however entertaining they are - coincides with a slight By all accounts the Dance's most autobiographical volume yet, The Military Philosophers' concludes the series bureaucratic engagement with World War II (and with military-cum-office life), chronicling Nick Jenkins' work with Allied Liaison - a parade of Poles, Czechs, Belgians and Brazilians who flit in and out of the book. If I'm honest, it makes for the least enjoyable volume so far, as the turnover of bit parts - hectic even for ADTTMOT, however entertaining they are - coincides with a slight furring of the arteries of Powell's prose, and makes the book more indigestible than usual. Nine books along and he's in confident mode, indulgent even, tackling the comparison to Proust head-on (Free French officer Kerneval gives voice to Powell's and Proust's critics here). Combined with the autobiographical elements and the usual share of Powellian coincidences, and it's an odd mix - the novel where the novelistic nature of Dance is most flimsy, but most directly addressed. Indulgent it may be, but the novel isn't unfocussed - a lot of its time is spent on establishing obviously major character Pamela Flitton, a second pole of awfulness in the books after the by now titanically loathsome Widmerpool. At this stage I'm not quite convinced by Flitton, though her "cosmic rage" is terrific for moving the plot along (even if the plot it does move along is kept typically and enjoyably offstage). Like Widmerpool, she feels like a combination of traits Powell despises - this time in women, not in men - but with Widmerpool the mixture achieves an odd alchemy that makes the result seem entirely likely and fresh. Flitton, in comparison, simply seems like a femme fatale, her attractiveness for all the men in the novel something like a super-power. Stressing the problems I had with the book makes it sound unenjoyable. It wasn't at all, and parts are magnificent: particularly the gradual sense of the war loosening its grip on London and its people, and the feeling of quiet relief, pride and exhaustion accompanying it. The sequence set in liberated France is one of the best in the whole series, and whatever its status in the Dance as a whole, The Military Philosophers is a fine, even moving, conclusion to the wartime trilogy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    gwayle

    Some gems: --The scene where Nick dreads Stevens' impeding show of fake grief--so true; --Astrology! (Nick is a Sagittarius; Stevens is a run-roughshod Aries; and the newly introduced vixen Pamela Flitton is, of course, a Scorpio.); --A reference to my favorite painter, James Ensor!; --Generals as fussy old ladies--LOL! There could be no doubt, so I was finally forced to decide, that the longer one dealt with them, the more one developed the habit of treating generals like members of the opposite sex Some gems: --The scene where Nick dreads Stevens' impeding show of fake grief--so true; --Astrology! (Nick is a Sagittarius; Stevens is a run-roughshod Aries; and the newly introduced vixen Pamela Flitton is, of course, a Scorpio.); --A reference to my favorite painter, James Ensor!; --Generals as fussy old ladies--LOL! There could be no doubt, so I was finally forced to decide, that the longer one dealt with them, the more one developed the habit of treating generals like members of the opposite sex; specifically, like ladies no longer young, who therefore deserve extra courtesy and attention; indeed, whose every whim must be given thought. This was particularly applicable if one were out in the open with a general. 'Come on, sir, you have the last sandwich,' one would say, or 'Sit on my mackintosh, sir, the grass is quite wet.';--Nick's dull military task is imbued with magic when he realizes that he was just at the "Balbec" hotel of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Not as seamlessly absorbing as its immediate predecessor (though perhaps reading two in a row--how indulgent!--spoils one) but wonderful nonetheless. I live for references to Uncle Giles. How long, do you want to bet, before the mysterious Szymanski reemerges in our Dance? Hats off, Mr. Powell.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    I am now 3/4 of the way through Anthony Powell's magisterial 12-novel cycle, Dance to the Music of Time. It's delicious stuff and, I think, on a par with the greatest novels of the 20th century, Joyce's Ulysses, Kafka's The Trial, Camus' The Stranger, Mann's Buddenbrooks, Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Roth's Call it Sleep, Graham Greene's oeuvre etc.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deanne

    Reached the end of the war, and still this series rolls on. Can't stand Widmerpool and hope to see him come crashing down.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Finally getting back to A Dance after quite a break. Still loving the series. There was a section on Proust which I particularly enjoyed, since I've been reading A la recherche this year.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    "Such a mental picture of the past was no doubt largely unhistorical, indeed totally illusory, freedom from one sort of humbug merely implying, with human beings of any epoch, thraldom to another. The past, just as the present, had to be accepted for what it thought and what it was." Really very strong. Taking place during the second half of WWII, Powell's 9th Music of Time novel deals candidly with the rigours of war: the perpetual loss, the feeling of society being one unanimous organ brought t "Such a mental picture of the past was no doubt largely unhistorical, indeed totally illusory, freedom from one sort of humbug merely implying, with human beings of any epoch, thraldom to another. The past, just as the present, had to be accepted for what it thought and what it was." Really very strong. Taking place during the second half of WWII, Powell's 9th Music of Time novel deals candidly with the rigours of war: the perpetual loss, the feeling of society being one unanimous organ brought together for a cause, and - of course - the paperwork. It strikes me that the book's Goodreads rating is highly subjective. I imagine few people make it to #9 in a series from half a century ago unless they're quite enjoying the proceedings!I note this more because, although I am absorbed by Powell's writing, I think he has justly faded from the general public consciousness. So much of what made his work so powerful to its contemporary audience was that they had lived the proceedings. Our culture's current fetishisation of works set in 1980s and early '90s will no doubt yield some true classics. But it's fair to say that many of the works we are enjoying in this mode are zeitgeist-y at best. Well made, but ultimately appealing to us because of what they teach us about the now, as refracted through our recent past. Similarly, for 1960s audiences who had lived through the War, the archetypes and exchanges herein must have had much greater depth. What is neat about this volume - which flits between Jenkins' postings over 3 or 4 years - is the feeling of time elongated. In 1945, someone can completely have forgotten a person they served with in 1942. Someone who lost their relative only a couple of years ago can see it as "long past". From my 2020 vantage point - only 8 weeks since my country activated its pandemic response plan, the most bizarre uprooting of the status quo in my lifetime - I am horrified by the prospect of what six long years at war would feel like. By now, Powell has so perfected his style that the brief sketches of new characters are as probing and subtle as those of our longstanding friends and enemies. Widmerpool (is he the only character to have appeared in every book thus far, aside from NJ?) is more odious than ever. And we at last meet Pamela Flitton, a character whom I have associated with this series long before I knew anything about it, knowing only that she was played by Miranda Richardson in the UK TV adaptation; she certainly makes an impression here as a potential villainess (although character roles have changed before, so I will remain agnostic). The final chapter, in which Jenkins attends the Victory church service, is one of the author's most assured pieces of writing yet, tackling his internal mental state through an almost stream-of-consciousness range of memories. Afterward, in a London deeply damaged by the Blitz and general decay, we descend into a dark despair but also - from our retrospective point-of-view - hopeful for the reconstruction and the new Elizabethan Golden Age we know lies ahead. (Probably less Golden for our boy Kenneth, setting his sights on administrating one of the colonies!) Where to from here?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mario Hinksman

    Book 9 and the final in the autumn season of a Dance to the Music of Time. I found this, so far, one of the strongest books, in this already brilliant sequence. There may be a few reasons for this: Most significantly, the entire autumn season is set against the backdrop of the second world war two with Nick Jenkins being stationed first in a Northern Irish training camp and then in a provincial headquarters. While books 7 and 8, both offer something unique, I did start to miss the variety of char Book 9 and the final in the autumn season of a Dance to the Music of Time. I found this, so far, one of the strongest books, in this already brilliant sequence. There may be a few reasons for this: Most significantly, the entire autumn season is set against the backdrop of the second world war two with Nick Jenkins being stationed first in a Northern Irish training camp and then in a provincial headquarters. While books 7 and 8, both offer something unique, I did start to miss the variety of characters, the intrigue and interactions that civilian life, mainly in London, enabled. The war, as in real life, dominated everything. However 'the Military Philosophers' sees a return to London life, albeit still in the context of the war. Nick Jenkins is moved to a military department responsible for maintaining relations with allied (and neutral) forces in occupied countries such as Poland, Belgium and the Balkans. In contrast to his other military postings, Jenkins actually seems to enjoy aspects of the role and the variety of characters increases including a number from the occupied allies. Widmerpool's inexorable ascent continues much to the chagrin of various other characters. Widmerpool is as odious, inconsiderate, pompous and successful as ever. Only at the end, is a glimmer of hope offered with the seeds of his potential destruction being sown in beguiling yet deadly form. Aspects of the real war are covered including the problems of Poland that partly occupy Jenkins. These include extracting Polish officers from the Soviet Union once they are allied. The suspected massacre of thousands of Polish officers is seen as a 'nuisance' when the Poles start to assert that it might not have been committed by the Germans. The brutal pragmatism of war is shown in Widmerpool's wish that the Poles keep quiet for fear of alienating the Soviets. There are a series of intrigues and trips to Egypt that seem to add little to the wider war effort. Finally, nearing the end, Jenkins visits liberated Normandy with a delegation of allied officers. Pamela Flitton emerges as a major character, a femme fatale who seems as deadly as she is beautiful. Familiar old characters re-emerge too, such as Mrs. Erdleigh,the other-worldly teller of fortunes who reappears during an air-raid in the same apartment block that Jenkins has been living while working at the Ministry. Her assessment of Pamela Flitton after a brief interaction seems spot on, cementing Mrs. Erdleigh's credentials in the psychic sphere. Aspects of the sheer pettiness of government bureaucracy feature and are covered with brilliantly dry humour. A bureaucrat named 'Blackhead' is painted so vividly that I feel I have met him myself. His role largely seems one of obstruction and requiring 'papers' before any aspect of new expenditure is committed too. Even soap is within Blackhead's purview. His office is described in almost Dickensian terms hidden away in the most undesirable floor of the government building and filled with files. Above all there is a growing sense that war is ending and, by the end of the book, end it has with Jenkins' brilliantly insightful commentary on the content and his interpretation of the meaning of the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's. A book rich in characters, events and above all in Antony Powell's brilliance at seeing people for who they really are and their motives for the things that they do.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The ninth book in this amazing series takes us through the closing months of World War II. Central character Nick Jenkins remains stationed in London as a liaison officer. At this point, German V1 and V2 rockets have begun falling on the city and the reader gets to experience the fear and anxiety of these attacks through Nick's keen observations. Eventually, the Allied forces prevail and Nick is assigned to escort some of his foreign charges over to Normandy to observe and meet with a chief comm The ninth book in this amazing series takes us through the closing months of World War II. Central character Nick Jenkins remains stationed in London as a liaison officer. At this point, German V1 and V2 rockets have begun falling on the city and the reader gets to experience the fear and anxiety of these attacks through Nick's keen observations. Eventually, the Allied forces prevail and Nick is assigned to escort some of his foreign charges over to Normandy to observe and meet with a chief commander. While in the seaside city of Cobourg, some comical exchanges occur between some of the allied officers he is escorting and Nick realizes that this city is where Proust has set some of the memorable passages from "Remembrance of Things Past". As the war winds down and Nick begins his transformation back to civilian life, a sense of fatigue and ennui sets in. The reader learns that some additional characters met on this journey through the 20th century have not survived the war years. England is tired and a period of slow recovery has begun.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jarvo

    This is the third volume in the series dealing with the war, and for the first time the narrator, Nick Jenkins, is based in London and is closer to the heart of the action. He is working as a liaison officer, dealing with those allies who are in exile. This is both a reminder that Nick is a natural diplomat, an opportunity for much comedy, and a reminder of some of the poignancy of war. We know what fate has in store for many of the Poles and the Czechs Nick has to deal with, and it is a reminde This is the third volume in the series dealing with the war, and for the first time the narrator, Nick Jenkins, is based in London and is closer to the heart of the action. He is working as a liaison officer, dealing with those allies who are in exile. This is both a reminder that Nick is a natural diplomat, an opportunity for much comedy, and a reminder of some of the poignancy of war. We know what fate has in store for many of the Poles and the Czechs Nick has to deal with, and it is a reminder of that most important of history lessons: Briton did not win the second world war, even if it ended up on the winning side. This is really brought home by a splendid evocation of a service at St Paul's to celebrate victory at which Nick comments on how overwhelmingly tired he and the country feel. As usual the book displays some superb prose and great insights, although there are a couple of occasions when the cultural references get just a little bit out of hand: nearly a whole page of badly translated Proust is something I can live without.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Hunter

    “I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy power.”That’s a candid moment from our poopish pal, Kenneth Widmerpool. The coming peace will not end his quest for greater leverage in everything. At least the pathetic fool’s consistent. Might is right in KW’s mental world. More than 2,000 pages into Powell’s masterpiece, he continues to surprise. I read somewhere that Powell introduces readers to more than 300 characters throughout his A Dance to the Music of Time series. Names come and go, sometimes “I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy power.”That’s a candid moment from our poopish pal, Kenneth Widmerpool. The coming peace will not end his quest for greater leverage in everything. At least the pathetic fool’s consistent. Might is right in KW’s mental world. More than 2,000 pages into Powell’s masterpiece, he continues to surprise. I read somewhere that Powell introduces readers to more than 300 characters throughout his A Dance to the Music of Time series. Names come and go, sometimes receiving no mention whatsoever for decades in series time. In The Military Philosophers, it’s minor character and socialite Archie Gilbert who comes traipsing back into narrator Nick’s awareness after seven books. Pleasantries and news are shared between them. Nick learns of marriages, divorces, deaths and other social scuttlebutt. Then Archie and Nick part ways. Who knows if their paths will ever cross again. The deaths get me every time. I can’t remember anyone dying in Nick’s, and hence the reader’s, presence. We hear about war and peacetime tragedies through other people, and often in understated ways. One minute, a character’s residing in the deep background, alive but mostly forgotten. The next, we learn they died escaping from a WWII POW camp, or chasing down looters in the wake of a German bombing raid. Gossip as primary news source - seems true to life today too, doesn’t it? As Powell makes each death known, I find myself scrambling to remember the deceased’s role in the story. Google and Hilary Spurling’s reference work Invitation To The Dance aid the remembering. Once remembered, I miss them a little - a strange but consistent feeling for me throughout my reading of the series. Powell continues to play me like a puppet. I love it. On to Books Do Furnish a Room.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.