Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande by Stephen Lloyd - review by D J Taylor

D J Taylor

The Show Must Go On

Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande

By

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One of the most poignant moments in Anthony Powell’s twelve-volume novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time, comes in the last few pages of Temporary Kings (1973) when the narrator, Nicholas Jenkins, goes to visit his friend the composer Hugh Moreland in St Thomas’ Hospital. ‘That morning was the last time I saw Moreland,’ Jenkins notes, before breaking into the briefest of elegies: ‘It was also the last time I had, with anyone, the sort of talk we used to have together.’ Moreland is Constant Lambert, though the novel is set in the later 1950s, whereas Lambert died in 1951, leaving Powell, his exact contemporary, to survive him for nearly half a century.

It would be a mistake to suggest, on the strength of this new biography, that Powell ‘gets’ Lambert’s personality, the breadth of his interests and the highly distinctive angle from which he observed a world he had a certain amount of difficulty coming to terms with. Biographers work in peculiar

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