Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Hardcover , pages. A Dance to the Music of Time 4. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about At Lady Molly's , please sign up. Lists with This Book.
Eventually though, I realise the music is not really different. Same pace, same harmonies — just some variation in the melodies. Along this fourth volume we can also fell that Jenkins, the narrator, is gradually aging.
How Powell manages this--so subtly--baffles me. Because along all these ballrooms there does not seem to be a mirror hung anywhere. Instead we can only see portraits.paytonraemusic.com/285-plaquenil-und.php
At Lady Molly's
And indeed, how punctilious and exacting these portrayals are. Nothing seems to escape the sharp eye, almost surgical, of Jenkins. He is almost like our peek-hole. But he is not. He is part of the action, part of the plot and the memories and recollections are his. And yet, they never reveal much about him. All his attention is directed elsewhere, like that of a meticulous portraitist. But all along the long gallery of portraits there is one which consistently stands out. He was after all the first dancer of the Dance. He is the where is Wally?
View all 18 comments. Sep 25, Ted rated it it was amazing Shelves: Synopsis followed by What I Thought. In this synopsis, I've used Hilary Spurling's brief overview of the chapters to remind me of the narrative threads in each of them; see Invitation to the Dance. This segment of the Dance takes place in The first chapter commences on the New Year.
The aunt is Lady Molly Jeavens, who has graciously bestowed her name via the handiwork of Powell to the book.
Since we had been undergraduates together my friendship with Quiggin, moving up and down at different seasons, could have been plotted like a temperature chart. Sometimes we seemed on fairly good terms, sometimes on fairly bad terms; never with any very concrete reason for these improvements and deteriorations. Apart from such scruples, I knew enough of Quiggin to be sure that his cottage would be more than ordinarily uncomfortable.
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Nothing I had seen of Mona gave cause to reconsider this want of confidence in their combined domestic economy. The first sight of one of these, Isobel, occasions our narrator to remark, Would it be too explicit, too exaggerated, to say that when I set eyes on Isobel Tolland, I knew at once that I should marry her? Something like that is the truth, certainly nearer the truth than merely to record those vague, inchoate sentiments of interest of which I was so immediately conscious. It was as if I had known her for many years already; enjoyed happiness with her and suffered sadness.
I was conscious of that, as of another life, nostalgically remembered. We knew one another already, the future was determinate. The location, after some initial moving about of the pieces on the playing field, is a pub in Soho. Jeavons supplies Jenkins with several surprising stories of times gone by, involving both Jeavons and others of the characters involved in the Dance. The party has been arranged subsequent to the engagement announcement by Jenkins and Isobel.
Fate has twisted for Widmerpool, and during much of the party Jenkins is closeted with General Conyers, who reveals to him his knowledge and psychological analysis of the Widmerpool episode. Widmerpool himself has the last word. You know, Nicholas, it is wise to take good advice about such a thing as marriage. I hope you have done so yourself. I have thought about the subject a good deal, and you are always welcome to my views. All of these illustrate one of the two things about these novels that appeals so inordinately to me. That is the superb phrasing and word choice he uses, particularly in the internal narration by Jenkins.
The dialogue of which there is a fair amount is not so much in this style, which is probably just as well. But for the narrative passages, Powell never uses the same important noun or verb twice in the same sentence, and generally not even in the same paragraph. This leads to writing which sparkles with unpredictability, and frequently with a delightfully humorous glow as well. The guests seemed, in fact, to have been chosen even more at random than usual. Certainly there had been no question either of asking people because they were already friends of Isobel or myself; still less, because Molly wanted either of us specifically to meet them.
All that was most nondescript in the Jeavons entourage predominated, together with a few exceptional and reckless examples of individual oddity. To describe the two of them as standing looking at one another, rather than talking, would have been nearer the truth, as each apparently found equal difficulty in contributing anything to a mutual conversation. At the same time the table cut them off from contact with other guests. Over and again Jenkins tells us how through a conversation or simply though observing another of the characters playing his role in a given scene, he suddenly becomes aware of something which he never suspected before: That great dance of life, in which we swirl our way across the years, observing and discovering the changing relationships between ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and acquaintances, the ever-changing judgments we make of the fortunes, driving forces, and characters of these people as they approach, recede, disappear, and reappear as they dance - to the music of time.
View all 29 comments. Life jogs along, apparently in the same old way, and then suddenly your attention is drawn to some terrific change that has taken place. Life hardly ever turns out to be what it was expected to become… And the narrator looks around and keeps wondering: So often one thinks that individuals and situations cannot be so extraordinary as they seem from outside: The novel At Lady Molly's mostly concerns matrimonial prospects of a social Summer arrives: And one character commented on his chosen one: View all 4 comments.
Its orbit is not to be chartered with precision, if misrepresentation and contrivance are to be avoided. Its facts can perhaps only be known by implication. It is a state from which all objectivity has been removed. If you prefer to think of Anthony Powell's rhymes with pole's, not towel's masterpiece cycle in terms of months, 'At Lady Molly's' is April.
This novel, like most all of Powell's novels so far, brings in new characters, allows old characters to flow through, and generally pushes time forward a few years. I've heard many descriptions of Anthony Powell's narrative. Some describe it as a dance obviously that Powell choreographs. Some describe it as a symphony where themes and instruments appear, play their part, and remain silent for a couple minutes only to reappear in slightly different circumstances and dress.
I am reminded a bit of Degas' experimentations with monotypes. He loved to play with the process of printmaking. How the printmaking process could smudge and press his ideas with either dark fields or light fields. His images of people and landscapes would emerge out of darkness, smudged reflections would arrive from the plates. He would create multiple images from the same plate that would allow him to create ghost images. He would let the press express, through colored smudges, the idea of movement. I think Powell is playing with some of the same ideas. Through time and memory, faces blur, but the dance continues.
At Lady Molly’s
People spin into focus, briefly, and then spin away. That is the cycle of life and relationships. This character is largely based on George Orwell , a contemporary of Anthony Powell and classmate and friend from Eton, who operated in many of the same circles. Orwell and Powell were actually very close for several years, and Alf, seems to be Powell both celebrating Orwell and poking gentle fun at his talented, leftist friend.
In fact, Powell and Orwell were so close that at Orwell's funeral in Powell was the one who selected the hymns. Reflecting on this Powell wrote: For some reason George Orwell's funeral service was one of the most harrowing I have ever attended. Whereas reading Proust always reminded me of participating in a lucid dream, reading Powell seems more like being fairly toasted at a beautiful party or -- well -- a dance. View all 5 comments. This novel is the first in the Summer. This begins in and follows many of the characters we have already become fond of, as well as some new introductions.
You have a sense that Nick feels he is somehow being left behind. However, like much of the romantic affairs in this book, it all feels rather tired and inevitable, rather than romantic and wonderful. This engagement, and other characters reactions to it, continue as a thread throughout the novel. Widmerpool was, of course, at school with Jenkins and his childhood friends Templer and Stringham. We also meet up with other familiar characters; including Quiggins and Mark Members.
Jenkins is now a published author, but there is still a feeling of dissatisfaction and impermanence about both his life and career, while Widmerpool is on an upward trajectory — the unlikely success, forging ahead. As well as personal relationships, the novel also explores the era the books are set in. At one point in the novel, characters wonder whether there will be another war. Still, although dark clouds are on the horizon, nobody yet seems that concerned about any immediate danger. In Nick is working as a scriptwriter for the film industry. He meets a new group of people at Lady Molly's, and gets to know the Tolland family.
Nick is courting Isobel Tolland, but we find out very little about their relationship. Widmerpool shows up quite often in this fourth book of the series, and gets involved with an unusual older woman. There are many humorous events and eccentric new characters in this book. May 25, Nigeyb rated it really liked it. It's deliciously addictive and an absolute pleasure to read. Imagine, if you will, the best of Evelyn Waugh when he's dealing with a large number of disparate characters e.
Sword of Honour and Brideshead Revisited , and following some of your favourite characters from these books throughout t At Lady Molly's is volume four of the A Dance to the Music of Time series and is Anthony Powell , yet again, at his best. Sword of Honour and Brideshead Revisited , and following some of your favourite characters from these books throughout their lives, add in the kind of twists and turns you'd find in superior soap operas, then sprinkle liberally with the humour of someone as gifted as P. Wodehouse , and all written in an accessible, beautiful and lucid style.
A Dance to the Music of Time is utterly fantastic and gets better and better as the characters become more familiar. It's now and Nick Jenkins is working as a scriptwriter and At Lady Molly's sees Nick finally embrace the adult world completely. It's the first time we encounter Nick making a proactive decision rather than passively observing what is happening around him. At Lady Molly's also introduces us to a large number of new and diverse characters who, I'm guessing, will continue to play significant roles as the Dance progresses.
The key character is the eponymous Lady Molly who, whilst she only appears in two scenes, provides the meeting places for diverse and eclectic characters to interact. Needless to say we encounter Widmerpool once again and, as always, in many ways he is Nick's alter-ego and the star of the show. Despite having yet more ignominy heaped upon him he continues his reinvention and upward trajectory as his evolution from school boy nerd to driven and successful businessman continues.
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Two tips for anyone reading the A Dance to the Music of Time series: It's a fantastic resource and a good read in its own right. It was presented at a joint meeting of the Anthony Powell and Sigfrid Siwertz societies held earlier this month in Stockholm, where it was the occasion for considerable debate. I scanned his face anxiously - at that age, senility can set in with terrible suddenness - but he s [The following passage was discovered in in an early draft of Anthony Powell's novel At Lady Molly's.
I scanned his face anxiously - at that age, senility can set in with terrible suddenness - but he seemed almost preternaturally unchanged. A moment later, he had moved over to join me. Had I started reading Swedish when we last met? A third of the way through this unique series, and I expect I'll continue at a modest pace to work through to the end. The narrator and the cast of characters that revolve around him continue to interest and at times fascinate.
I can't say that I loved this book or that I'm obsessed with starting the next one, but the content so far fully justifies continuing to see where things will go and how the relationships will play out. In many ways, one of the most intriguing aspects of the books an A third of the way through this unique series, and I expect I'll continue at a modest pace to work through to the end. In many ways, one of the most intriguing aspects of the books and the series is how neutral - unassuming, at times, passive , vanilla, unexceptional?
It's not fair to describe Nick as a cipher, but it feels that, while he may be the axle around which the action spins, his actions seem largely irrelevant to what animates each book. On a book-by-book basis, and, particularly, on a chapter by chapter or page by page level, this is leisurely, languid stuff. Nothing jaw dropping, but, similarly, reading the books is a comfortable Today, it's very much a period piece - almost like reading a male-centric Jane Austen in serial form or, I'm guessing, for some, like watching Downton Abbey - lots of parlor room banter, social commentary, abstract observation, caste-and -status-related jockeying, etc.
One thing I find striking is that - while the story line at least so far evolves between WWI and WWII, the books as I understand it , were originally published from to Nonetheless, it feels fresh and contemporary. As literary, historical fiction goes, it's easy to see why it's stood the test of time. This may seem obvious, but my sense it would be a huge mistake to read these out of order. You simply must see him. Old acquaintances from the first three books are popping in and out of the limelight: Tuffy Wheedon, Dicky Umfraville, an elderly reclusive gentleman that seems related to everybody else, old school friends and old flames.
New names and their family connections are thrown at the reader: Molly and Jeavons the hosts, a general that trains poodles for hunting dogs, Alf alias Erridge alias Lord Warminster, an unconventional butler named Smith and a society lady that smokes like a chimney stack and swears like a soldier in the trenches, even the pretty girls that are liable to make the heart of the still young Nick flutter.
All of them though are eclipsed by the dramatic entrance of the most ubiquitous character in the whole series. This was just such a performance. The fiance was Widmerpool. Based on this particular scene, I have a fancy that Widmerpool should be played onscreen by Kramer from the Seinfeld TV series hide spoiler ] With each volume of the Dance, it seems to me that the prose gets better, the character descriptions get both funnier and more poignant, the self-assurance and the talent of our Narrator is developing at the same pace as the skill of the author.
Nick Jenkins in the first volume was shy and passive, a simple witness of the events around him. By this fourth volume Nicholas is a young author with a couple of books under his belt, with a heart that has known love and its pitfalls, a man that accepted the world as it is and is now ready to actively play his part. On the professional side, we are treated to a glimpse of the budding British movie industry, when a local protection law required that every American movie shown in cinemas is accompanied by a homemade show.
I was then at the time of life when one has written a couple of novels, and moved from a firm that published art books to a company that produced second-feature films. On the emotional side, Nick is less liable to fall in love with every girl he meets and he is still pining for Jean, but prefers to look ahead instead of backward: I was firmly of the opinion that even the smallest trace of nostalgia for the immediate past was better avoided.
A bracing future was required, rather than vain regrets. Regarding the world Nick chronicles for us, conversations overheard in a restaurant, in a jazz club or around the dinner table hint at the approaching storm brough by the Nazis, but the focus of the series is still on family dramas, on marriages that work despite the spouses being total opposites and on marriages that fail, despite being 'a match made in heaven' to the outsiders.
I have remarked before that what makes Nick an excellent narrator and a future great writer is his power of observation coupled with a still fresh interest in everything that happens around him: Curiosity, which makes the world go round, brought me in the end to accept Quiggin's invitation.
Be prepared to be, like Nick, constantly surprised by the follies and by the hidden talents of the people you will meet again and again in the course of the Dance. The literary critic Quiggin is trying to hold on the trophy wife he stole from another old schoolmate. Mona the wife dreams of becoming an actress on the silver screen, while casting apraising eyes at the peer living next door. Templer, her ex-husband, is patching his pride by taking starlets out to night clubs, but his aphorisms are sounding more than a little bitter Women may show some discrimination about whom they sleep with, but they'll marry anybody.
A wealthy lord is living in the poor houses because he wants to study the social conditions of the proletariat. A retired army general is taking an interest in Virginia Woolf and Carl Jung. The elderly butler is about to be arrested by the police for obscure reasons and is very shifty when asked to put the liquor on the table.
Widmerpool continues to refuse to conform to the image Nick has constructed of him, and proves that the will is not always enough for success, especially in matters of the heart I have used the quote above as a sort of key to understanding why Widmerpool, and others like him, are constantly coming back into the Dance, the basic duality between the people of will business tycoons, politicians, critics and contemplative people who search for the meaning of life Nick and his Boema of painters, writers, musicians, social butterflies. For Nick Jenkins, I believe maturity means accepting the fact that the dividing line between the two categories is constantly shifting and it needs to be updated as new information is available or as old events are examined in a new light: The fact that Widmerpool seemed a grotesque figure to some who knew him provided no reason why he should not inspire love in others.
I record these speculations not for their generosity of feeling, but to emphasise the difficulty in understanding, even remotely, why people behave as they do. Nick, as a man who keeps an open mind, is a student of human nature and is ready to admit he was wrong in his previous judgements of people, appears to me as the perfect guide for the rest of the Dance, a guarantee that we will continue to be enchanted and intrigued by what the future has in store for us: My favorite illustration of the above mentioned Law is in the portrait of Jeavons, the veteran of the Somme who married a lady of the high society, and who seems out of sorts, an anachronism, among the sparkling guests of his wife: Like one of those mammoths - or, in Jeavons case, somewhat less gigantic form of primeval life - caught in a glacier and physically preserved into an age when his very kind was known only from fossilised bones, or drawings on the walls of subterranean caves, he somehow managed to look just as he must have looked in Perhaps a better simile to indicate the effect of remoteness he gave, standing there with a vacant expression and both hands in his pockets, would be that of some rare insect enclosed in amber.
Before the end of the novel though, Jeavons is revealed as a dark horse, a man of secret passions and hidden depths. Also as a heavy drinker and occasional lecherous habits. He is, like the world he lives in, shaped by the momentous events of a world war: Everything's changed about all that.
Always feel rather sorry for your generation as a matter of fact, not but what we haven't all lost our - what do you call 'em - you know - somebody used the word in our house the other night - saying much what I'm saying now? Struck me very forcibly. Conyers comments, "a man who marries Mildred must be a man with a will of his own.
It appears that he gets involved with Gypsy only because of her "lack of demur" ABM , and surely didn't take a truly dominant role in his relationship with Jean. The professional lives of Powell's characters also help us categorize them. In all three of these cases, their will becomes most clearly manifested through professional endeavors. Jenkins though, appears to feel estranged from this group, and does not actively peruse professional advancement in publishing 79 or in screenwriting.
Interestingly, Jenkins seems to distinguish between men who exert their will on others people like Widmerpool and Quiggin , and those who seem to exert their will on themselves Conyers. Throughout Dance , Jenkins repeatedly reflects negatively on people who exhibit this "forceful will" but, once he meets Conyers, begins to admire a second type of "introverted will. Nick completes his passage to manhood through what he describes as his first true "act of the will": In addition, through the many new friends and acquaintances he makes in the book more than in the three previous novels , he establishes for himself both a new, more mature social sphere, and a large group of familiar in-laws.
It seems probable that Nick will continue to operate within this social sphere throughout the following few books of the Dance, rather than return to his associations with people like the Walpole-Wilsons, Milly Andriadis, and Sir Magnus Donners. Despite the passive, "introverted" nature that Nick shows in the first trilogy of the Dance , he manages to take a proactive leap forward into the world of marriage and adulthood in At Lady Molly's. Though we receive little concrete information about Nick's life in the Dance , what we do see indicates that he is somewhat submissive to the wills of others, and shows no interest in advocating the importance of his own will.
Erdleigh describes him as "half-way between dissipation and diffidence" in The Acceptance World Because of this nature, it is all the more surprising that he abruptly marries Isobel Tolland. Not only is the marriage an "act of the will," as he says, but an action that shows a strong willingness for both commitment and somewhat dramatic change in his life: This secrecy persists, most notably, in his refusal to say anything of substance about his marriage or about Isobel. Nevertheless, marriage is a big step for him, marking the end of his days as a bachelor and hurtling him into the world of adult concerns that he was formerly - as a passive unmarried man with his few friends divided between two social classes - only half a part of.
By the end of the first movement of the Dance , Nick seems to have few, if any, good friends. His contact with old school-buddies Stringham and Templer is waning, and his relations with Members, Quiggin, and Widmerpool, though cordial, are not especially intimate. In addition, Nick's acquaintances in general, since the death of Mr. Deacon, are nearly all of his own generation, with the exceptions of Mrs. Erdleigh and Uncle Giles, whom he sees only occasionally. At Lady Molly's sees the introduction of a great number of relatively important and diverse characters, characters that will probably continue to associate with Nick, especially because most of them become his in-laws with his marriage to Isobel.
In General Conyers and Jeavons Nick finds two older friends, quite different from someone like Templer, who may serve as role models of a sort. Also, unlike the characters of the previous novels, those of At Lady Molly's are closely connected with one another, either through family ties, or through Lady Molly.
The book in some sense revolves around Lady Molly, because even though she is in only two scenes, her parties and her reputation serve as a common ground for nearly all the characters of the book. By the end of At Lady Molly's , Nick finds himself in entirely different circumstances from those he was in at the end of The Acceptance World - he has taken the proactive step of getting married, and has established himself in a new social sphere and a new family. In addition, he has retained some relations with the more important of his acquaintances of his past.
At Lady Molly's by Anthony Powell
Nick seems to have gained a certain confidence and maturity in At Lady Molly's , and by its end he has truly reached adulthood. A Lesson in Balance: He has a very strong sense of being a member of the upper crust, yet he also wants to support the political views of the working man and laborer. Erridge tries to conceal his inner self, but is not always successful, as throughout the book At Lady Molly's his actions and characteristics are compared to the old style aristocracy -- a life he only half wants to distance himself from. While referred to by many different names, the eldest of the Tolland siblings chooses to follow family traditon and remain known as Erridge.
His choice of name reflects his inability to decide between the two worlds he is a part of, as he chooses the most neutral of his three titles. To conceal his association with the aristocracy, he chooses to remain known as Erridge, rather than using the more prestigious title of Earl of Warminster. While he rejects the more aristocratic of his titles, he also chooses the name "Erridge" over his given name of Alfred Tolland.
To Lady Molly, that he has his own family and friends refer to him by his title always seemed "rather pompous" While Erridge hopes to maintain this balance between two identities, Quiggin seems unwilling to let him. Throughout our first meeting with Erridge, Quiggin refers to him as Alf, choosing to use not only Erridge's given name, but a contraction of it. This appears a deliberate attempt on Quiggins part to try and cover up the fact that while Alf purports to be a supporter of the Left, he still holds ties to the Aristocracy.
In our first meeting with Erridge his reluctance completely to embrace the lifestyle of the common man shows through in more than his choice of name. When discussing the struggle against fascism with Quiggin, Erridge states that he "doesn't always think like the rest of [Quiggin's compatriots]" He then quickly moves conversation to the Marxist magazine they are planning, however once again refusing to take either side fully. During their first meeting, Jenkins also gets the impression that "whatever his political views, whatever the social changes, Erridge would remain in a comfortable position" Erridge's inability to leave behind his heritage shows through even more once Jenkins visits Thrubworth, and has a chance to see Erridge in his own environment.
Even about the most basic of issues, Erridge manages, consciously or not, to give off an air of high-class life. When debating whether any champagne was left in the cellar, Jenkins hears in his voice the "faint murmur of ancestral voices answering for the Government some awkward question raised by the Opposition" The tour of Thrubworth reveals even more about the mansion's owner. When Isobel comments that "Dukes are much more cunning than Earls," Erridge, an Earl himself, takes offense and Jenkins becomes "conscious of the bones of an old world pomposity displayed beneath the skin of advanced political thought" A little later, Jenkins notices within Erridge the "guilty enjoyment" of showing off his house As Much as he may try and hide it, Thrubworth and the title that comes with it excite Erridge.
The characters, specifically the Tolland family, are left to speculate as to why Erridge has abandoned his title of Lord Warminster. Nick, however, seems to have hit it directly on the mark: Erridge wants to embrace his heritage, but he also feels guilty for being wealthy. In order to appease his guilt, Erridge not only gives generously to those who ask for it , but he also tries to conceal his aristocratic leanings. By remaining neutral in the battle between his conscience and his desires, he puts himself in a position of safety and security, even if it becomes obvious that he is not entirely committed to either side.
Erdleigh in The Acceptance World , permits him to develop some unique perspectives on relationships prior to his entering into marriage. He can view his impending nuptials almost from a third-person perspective. Jenkins emotionally removes himself in such a way that allows him to see the marital relationship from a more individual perspective versus a more awestruck, enmeshed perspective, of anticipated marital bliss. This characteristic of being able to emotionally remove himself is evident in his speech at the close of chapter four.
He says, "I passed through the empty streets, thinking that I too, should be married soon, a change that presented itself in terms of action rather than reflection, the mood in which even the most prudent often marry: He demonstrates in this speech that he has contrasting views on the state of one's mind prior to marriage.
These result from his observing the different marriages of his friends. He goes through his life remaining detached, simply watching those around him, contemplating their actions, and only afterwards becoming a participant himself. He learns the positives from the Jeavons' marriage and the negatives from Widmerpool's impending one.
This discrepancy causes Jenkins to have contrasting feelings towards marriage of both highs and lows. Jenkins cannot understand what Mrs. Haycock sees in Widmerpool and why she would want to marry him. He says, "I record these speculations not for their subtlety, but to emphasize the difficulty in understanding, even remotely, why people behave the way they do. Jenkins's observations of his friends' marriages are crucial as he sculpts his own perceptions on marriage. Jeavons, whom Jenkins has grown attached to, and Widmerpool, his longtime acquaintance, have entered or are in the process of entering into marriages though the course of this book.
Both of the men are asserting their will and marrying up, into the aristocracy. Jenkins will also marry up into the aristocracy, following the example set by his friends. He views their marriages as trial-runs for his own. He is learning from the mistakes made by both Jeavons and Widmerpool. General Conyers says that Widmerpool makes the mistake of delaying. He states, "If he wanted to marry her, he ought to have got down to matter and done it.
No good delaying in things of that sort. Jenkins says that those entering marriage often feel "a crisis of delight and anxiety, excitement and oppression. The state of mind of one who is about to enter into the life-long bond of marriage is full of turmoil and contrasting thoughts. The emotions are difficult to describe and therefore Jenkins is unable to find one word to convey the feelings he is experiencing. Jenkins finds delight in the Jeavons's marriage, with the comment that "the strongest protest she Molly ever seemed to make was: Jenkins also describes marriage as a "form of action, of violence almost: He has observed these two different marital situations and learned from both, creating a more well rounded view of the highs and lows of marriage.
Jenkins's proclivity to observe relationships from an undemonstrative perspective, removed from current circumstances, works to his advantage as he prepares himself for marriage. His unique personality and approach to life and relationships informs and readies him for marriage in a way that is well beyond his years. Under the present circumstances, with Jenkins entering into marriage and many around him doing the same, his reserved nature and tendency to observe are a helpful tool in preparing him for marriage.
The fact that he observes and doesn't jump in immediately, allows him to gain knowledge. This reserved nature that is his strength in leading up to marriage could become his greatest weakness if he doesn't open up once he enters into marriage. Nick relates specific incidents such as the banana and the sugar incidents, which heighten this impression of him.
However, in the fourth book, Widmerpool's status is lifted to one of admiration, even respect. Nick describes him as "energetic, able, successful" 44 , things that he never was in the past. His will and determination have always shown through, but these qualities have only tainted his reputation further - by portraying him as a person who tries hard but does not succeed.
Now however, these qualities have brought him success, so much so that the characters that used to make fun of him now admire him. We notice the difference in Nick's opinion of Widmerpool on page 43 when he says, after comparing him to a rubber fish "There was something a little frightening about him.
His comparison of Widmerpool to an artificial object suggests that something about him was amiss; that he isn't the usual awkward figure he used to be. Widmerpool has just walked into the room surrounded by an aura of confidence, a picture that Nick would probably have deemed impossible in his earlier Eton days. This process seemed somehow to gratify his own egotism" Earlier, it seemed that Widmerpool was trying hard to please everybody. After the banana incident, instead of being angry, he had an almost "slavish" expression and did not retaliate at all.
Here however, it seems he is not interested in anyone but himself. He has moved from caring about what other people think of him, to being obsessed by his success only. He was egoistical and cared greatly about wealth and being around people of a higher financial class, as shown on page He would be concerned only with the matter of who owned the land. Surprisingly, in contrast to before, these comparisons do not hurt our opinions of the characters; rather, they make a favorable impression.
When comparing him to Quiggin , Jenkins calls Widmerpool "a man of the will", which suggests that Widmerpool has an admirable amount of determination and potential. This again is in contrast of our earlier impressions of him in that although he was determined, he hardly ever succeeded. In Jenkins' comparison of Erridge and Widmerpool, he says that Widmerpool does "not care for eating and drinking" This tells us that even though Widmerpool is exposed to luxuries, he does not take advantage of them. This is an admirable quality that again adds to our changed impression of him.
This is the incident that proves that Widmerpool's Eton peers have a changed opinion of him. Peter Templer was the one that used to ridicule him but now he "no longer regarded Widmerpool with derision. Widmerpool is now a successful businessman with presitigious business connections such as Magnus Donners. Unexpectedly, he is the one who gets Bill Truscott, the man predicted to be very successful, sacked from Donners-Brebner. This just proves the extent of Widmerpool's accomplishments.
Widmerpool, first portrayed as a loser, is now the most successful of the Eton group. He has moved from being ridiculed, to being admired, and even respected. Although he still has a lot to learn when it comes to associating with members of the female sex, his success with his career provides us with more hope for his future relationships. He isn't like most characters in The Dance. While he possesses some of the traits common to them, he is much more unusual than most. Conyers is an eccentric. One favorite theory is, "that poodles, owing to their keen natural intelligence, could profitably be trained as gun dogs," 4, ALM.