A Question Of Upbringing

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The opening novel in Anthony Powell’s brilliant twelve-novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time. Published in 1951, it begins the story of a trio of boys, Nicholas Jenkins (the narrator), Charles Stringham, and Peter Templer, who are friends at a nameless school (based upon Powell’s public school Eton College) and then move on to different paths. A fourth figure, Kenneth Widmerpool, stands slightly apart from them, poised for greatness. The novel is concerned with the flow and transience of life and the play of time upon love and friendship. Another major theme introduced in A Question of Upbringing is the consequence of living by the will. In presenting four very different characters – “the artist, the romantic, the cynic, and the man of will” – the author sets the scene for an extended exploration of what it means to grow and mature. The language of youth, deployed with precision, is used to depict the emergence of the boys into manhood in a period when memories of the Great War overshadow many of their elders.

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