Among the chief pleasures of the timing of my birth was coming of age as a reader as the final volumes of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time cycle were being published – Books Do Furnish a Room (1971), Temporary Kings (1973), Hearing Secret Harmonies (1975). My fondness for the twelve novels only grows, as does the pleasure I take in anticipating my next go at them. My understanding of twentieth-century English social history is intimately linked to Powell’s long sad comedy.
My friend Levi Stahl works for the University of Chicago Press, publisher in four compendium volumes of A Dance. Levi wrote on Monday to say that starting Dec. 1, the Press will begin publishing Powell’s roman a fleuve in e-book form, and throughout December will give away the first novel in the series, A Question of Upbringing, for free. Levi writes:
“I don't expect that e-books are any more your cup of tea than they are mine, but I figured that as a Dance fan you could at least see why we're excited: as I'm sure you know, the hardest part of drawing new readers to the series is getting people to overcome its daunting length and give it a try.”
Levi’s right about my lack of enthusiasm for e-books but I have proof Powell’s masterwork can seduce the proper reader for a lifetime. If the digital option enlists new readers, I’m all for it. Go here for more information.