Hearing Secret Harmonies (Dance to the Music of Time, Book by Anthony Powell

By Anthony Powell

A Dance to the tune of Time – his excellent 12-novel series, which chronicles the lives of over 300 characters, is a distinct evocation of existence in twentieth-century England.

The novels keep on with Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the highbrow, cultural and social hurdles that stand among them and the “Acceptance World.”

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Extra resources for Hearing Secret Harmonies (Dance to the Music of Time, Book 12)

Example text

How we distinguish between media depends on the framework we bring to the term. Marie-Laure Ryan notes the way that different fields use the term media: “If we ask specialists of different disciplines to propose a list of media, we will receive a bewildering variety of answers. A sociologist or cultural critic will answer tv, radio, cinema, the Internet. An art critic may list music, painting, sculpture, literature, drama, the opera, photography, architecture. An artist’s list would begin with clay, bronze, oil, watercolor, fabrics, and it may end with exotic items used in so-called mixed-media works, such as grasses, feathers, and beer can tabs” (Avatars, 16).

There is a long tradition of seeing media like painting and music as simple others to writing. Françoise Meltzer opens her study of portraiture in the novel by offering a sweeping claim about writing and its others: “The portrait, because it is ‘other’ to the verbal economy of the text, functions as a good barometer for literature’s views on itself, on representation, and on the power of writing. The choice of the portrait is essentially arbitrary on my part; I could as well have considered music, landscapes, tactile expressions, and so on” (1).

Although it seems that my qualifications have made hopeless any attempt to define one medium against another—mediated, as that definition is, by the relativism of affordances, supplements, and cultural definitions— I suggest on the contrary that these qualifications ultimately work together to give each medium its precise place within the culture. As I will show, the place of one medium within the whole contemporary ecology is defined by a network of actors and the circulation of that medium’s artifacts throughout the culture.

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