Thoughts On “A Question Of Upbringing”

I’ve taken a radical decision, well radical for me, that I will begin reading Anthony Powell’s “A Dance To The Music of Time” series. I’m both scared and excited. It’s been a while since I’ve dedicated myself to a series, and a big one at that, not to mention that Powell’s not the easiest author to read.

Many people around me do not know what the series is about, and they ask me to describe it. I always find it hard to describe a book I’m reading, and this one is particularly hard. I usually tell them it’s about life and people. How people that you meet come back into your life unexpectedly, how they change bit by bit and you barely realize it, how an insignificant person can actually become a big part of your life… We just follow Jenkins around, I tell them, as he meets people and makes observations that I usually find myself agreeing with. And we discover with him how society works.

And though the first book was not very eventful, I still found myself thinking about it a lot. I kept trying to match the characters to people I know from real life. And I tried to see if I fit any of the four main characters. I certainly wasn’t as charming and daring as Templer. Was I like the dreamer Stringham? It would be nice. Or was I like Jenkins? Perhaps. But what if the character closest to me was Widmerpool?

I don’t really know what people think of Widmerpool. I pity him and do not find anything to admire. I’m kind of scared, both of him and finding my likeness in him. He is a very hard worker, but he’s incredibly talentless and he’s not in love with anything. I guess this is why he is not well liked – people usually can sense your passion for what you do and admire you for it. Widmerpool is passionate about power though. This is what scares me, I suppose, this and how well he can understand people and society.

I obviously dislike Widmerpool (I really enjoy reading about him though), but I do not know, for instance, what my roommate would think of him. She is also a bit of an opportunist herself, which is not a bad thing necessarily, but I’m left wondering if she would also be scared of seeing herself in him. Maybe she wouldn’t find anything particularly discomforting about him.

We’ll never know.

One down. Eleven to go.

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