Infants of the Spring (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
Devotees of Anthony Powell’s witty and astringent prose style will enjoy Infants of the Spring, the first volume of his autobiography. It begins in the dim past of the twelfth century, with tales of an eccentric forebear named Rhys ap Gruffydd, and ends with Powell at age twenty, having come down from Oxford, “enveloped in a fog of naïvety” and about to “dive headfirst into the opaque waters of London life.” Much of course is chronicled in between, as Powell, taking his guiding epigraph from Joseph Conrad’s Chance, manages both charmingly and informatively “to keep the ball rolling,” as does Conrad’s narrator with the nonchalant Marlow. This idea of casually, entertainingly maintaining the conversation, keeping the air filled with inquiry, with analysis of as much as possible of what happened—in an attempt to discover the remarkable—is Powell’s purpose. Thus, the overall title for the volumes of his autobiography will be To Keep the Ball Rolling.
Readers not devoted to Powell (or unless avid genealogists) will not get much beyond his first twenty or thirty pages. Anyone seeking Powell’s usual immediacy of drama, wit, and quirky character will have to wade at first through some stretched points and anecdotes which Powell finds of high interest. But to fans of his novels, his research into the dim past...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
Book World. October 9, 1977, p. E3.
Booklist. LXXIII, July 15, 1977, p. 1694.
Christian Science Monitor. LXIX, November 4, 1977, p. 35.
New York Times Book Review. September 4, 1977, p. 6.
New Yorker. LIII, October 17, 1977, p. 195.
Saturday Review. IV, August 20, 1977, p. 63.
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