Hugh Massingberd

The Revered Reviewer

Some Poets, Artists and ‘A Reference for Mellors’

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Anthony Powell (1905–2000) has often been described as ‘the English Proust’, though this idle comparison did not find much favour with the author of A Dance to the Music of Time. ‘For a start,’ he used to say, ‘I am not homosexual.’ Yet in this long-awaited third and final volume of Powell’s critical writings (the first two, Miscellaneous Verdicts and Under Review, appeared back in the early 1990s), I was struck by a passage in Powell’s review of Proust’s attack on the insufferable nineteenth-century ‘academic’ critic Sainte-Beuve: ‘Proust gives Sainte-Beuve a tremendous knocking-about, incidentally expressing a great many of his own views about life and letters, notable not only for their subtlety but also for their humour and common sense.’

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