(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Powell’s memoirs were published in individual installments from 1976 through 1982; a one-volume abridged edition, To Keep the Ball Rolling, appeared in 1984. Powell prepared the abridged edition himself.

The first volume, Infants of the Spring, chronicles Powell’s ancestry on both sides of his family, his immediate forebears, and his childhood and youth. Memories of several prominent classmates at school and the university, including the writers Henry Green, Harold Acton, and George Orwell, are prominently featured.

In the second volume of the memoirs, Messengers of Day, Powell describes his early years on the London writing and publishing scene, providing vivid details of his brief residence in the bohemian London district of Shepherd’s Market. Sections are also devoted to Powell’s longtime friend, peer, and rival, Evelyn Waugh; to his close friendship with the composer Constant Lambert (the model for the character of Hugh Moreland in A Dance to the Music of Time); and to a detailing of the key books, ranging from the works of Petronius to those of more modern writers, such as Marcel Proust and Fyodor Dostoevski, which influenced Powell throughout his career.

The third volume, Faces in My Time, covers Powell’s marriage to Lady Violet and his military service. He also records his literary friendships with writers as diverse as F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom he met while seeking out...

(The entire section is 455 words.)