The Soldier's Art, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)

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The eighth novel in Anthony Powell's brilliant twelve-novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time.

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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by
5

This is the eighth instalment in the "Dance to the Music of Time" sequence, and the second set during the Second World War. As was the case in its predecessor, Nick Jenkins' s war is not one of direct and exciting engagement with the enemy. For most of the book he remains based in Northern Ireland while the Division to which he is attached prepares for deployment. However, Jenkins himself is working for the Deputy Assistant Advocate General (the DAAG), in the person of the odious and overwhelmingly ambitious Kenneth Widmerpool.Most of Jenkins's time is spent observing the internal politics within the Division as Widmerpool strives for advancement and to outflank the almost equally odious Colonel Hogbourne-Johnson, a veteran officer who had seen service in the First World War and is never less than scathing of recently-drafted and generally ill-qualified junior officers.This novel sees the re-appearance of Stringham as a Mess waiter serving Jenkins and Co at dinner, and Bithel, the shabby but likeable Welsh Officer who had so narrowly avoided court martial in the previous volume.Powell rretains his light and sardonic touch throughout, though the background melancholia from the preceeding volumes is never wholly absent.

Review by
4

The series is getting more and more interesting the further I read on. I love how Powell brings characters into and out of Jenkins' life over the years.

Review by
4
Sullen reverberations of one kind or another - blitz in England, withdrawal in Greece - had been providing the most recent noises-off in rehearsals that never seemed to end, breeding a wish that the billed performance would at last ring up its curtain, whatever form that took. However, the date of the opening night rested in hands other than our own; meanwhile nobody could doubt that more rehearsing, plenty more rehearsing, was going to be needed for a long time to come.The book starts with Nick buying an army greatcoat at a shop that is a theatrical costumier as well as supplying uniforms, and throughout this book Nick sees himself as being in the wings rehearsing fo a real part in the war, although he still posted to Northern Ireland in a port city that is regularly bombed. But when he is on leave in London during the Blitz, the reality of war its home when relatives and friends are killed in the bombing.Nick is embarrassed when Stringham turns up as his mess waiter and is upset when his meddling leads Widmerpool to transfer him to a Mobile Laundry unit which is about to be sent abroad, atlhough Widmerpool can't see what Nick is fussing about.Nick is finding army life dull and is chafing to get away from Widmerpool who is constantly scheming to get his own way over his rivals, but seems destined to being posted to another dull job at the Infantry Training Centre until he is sent a lifeline at the very end of the book.
Review by
5

This is the eighth instalment in the "Dance to the Music of Time" sequence, and the second set during the Second World War. As is the case with all of the novels in the sequence, Powell keeps the reader fully engaged even though very little actually happens. Nick Jenkins's war is not one of direct and exciting engagement with the enemy. For most of this book he remains based in Northern Ireland while the Division to which he is attached prepares for deployment overseas. Jenkins finds himself working as general dogsbody for the Deputy Assistant Advocate General (the DAAG), in the person of the odious and overwhelmingly ambitious Kenneth Widmerpool, now gazetted in the rank of major but desperate to go much higher. Hitherto Widmerpool has been an occasional character - 'a transient and embarrassed spectre' as Widmerpool's and Jenkins's former school master le Bas might have said - but in this volume he is a constant presence, and we can almost feel the torpor with which Jenkins's spirit is ground down as, between them, they plough through the volumes of mindless paperwork.Much of Jenkins's time is spent observing the ceaseless machinations within the internal politics of the Division as Widmerpool strives for advancement and to outflank the almost equally odious Colonel Hogbourne-Johnson, a veteran officer who had seen service in the First World War and is never less than scathing of recently-drafted and generally ill-qualified junior officers. Hogbourne-Johnson earns Widmerpool's undying emnity following a splentetic outburst, provoked by an unavoidable traffic snarl-up during a regimental exercie. From that moment on, Widmerpool expend almost as much energy in trying to do Hogbourne-Johnson down as he does in pursuing his own advancement.This novel sees the re-appearance of Stringham, who had been absent from the last two or three volumes. Here he appears as a Mess waiter serving Jenkins and Co at dinner. Now seemingly sober, he is even more deeply riven by melncholy than previously, though he accepts his lowly miltiary status with considerable equanimity. We also catch up with Bithel, the irredeemably shabby but immensely likeable Welsh Officer who had so narrowly avoided court martial in the previous volume.Powell retains his light and sardonic touch throughout, though the background melancholia from the preceding volumes is never wholly absent.