Because of its complex and animated writing, A Question of Upbringing, the opening novel of Anthony Powell s A Dance to the Music of Time, allows a multiplicity of critical approaches. The narrative is peopled with social representations of friends, acquaintances, lovers, families, whose stories alternate and intermingle in a colourful portrait. My reading focuses on two main elements: the multilayered level of intertextual references, as well as the use of irony as a social factor. For example, the initial image of the novel depicting a group of men working in the street on a cold winter day, evokes pictorial, theatrical, and musical references and recalls the artistic form of the tableaux vivant. Irony, on the other hand, is expressed both verbally and through non-verbal utterances and it often evolves in comedy and farce. At the basis of Powell s use of humour there is the union of socially incompatible types, therefore, social moments are inevitably invested with ironic and comical tones. Both intertextuality and irony seem to converge in the semantic path of circularity, that is a way to present the life of characters as a continual reiteration of situations and events. Powell s circularity has some peculiar traits though: it does not imply closeness, but relies on an open structure. Both the intertextual aspect of A Question of Upbringing and its ironic quality seem to strengthen this position. The circularity of events and atmosphere, and the reiteration of situations are coupled with some important changes and evolutions in the characters life and the ultimate shape of the novel seems not to be closed in a circle, but stretched to the outside, as the image of Poussin s picture seems to remind: partners disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle .

“A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell: intertextuality and the functions of social irony”

ZULLI T
2007

Abstract

Because of its complex and animated writing, A Question of Upbringing, the opening novel of Anthony Powell s A Dance to the Music of Time, allows a multiplicity of critical approaches. The narrative is peopled with social representations of friends, acquaintances, lovers, families, whose stories alternate and intermingle in a colourful portrait. My reading focuses on two main elements: the multilayered level of intertextual references, as well as the use of irony as a social factor. For example, the initial image of the novel depicting a group of men working in the street on a cold winter day, evokes pictorial, theatrical, and musical references and recalls the artistic form of the tableaux vivant. Irony, on the other hand, is expressed both verbally and through non-verbal utterances and it often evolves in comedy and farce. At the basis of Powell s use of humour there is the union of socially incompatible types, therefore, social moments are inevitably invested with ironic and comical tones. Both intertextuality and irony seem to converge in the semantic path of circularity, that is a way to present the life of characters as a continual reiteration of situations and events. Powell s circularity has some peculiar traits though: it does not imply closeness, but relies on an open structure. Both the intertextual aspect of A Question of Upbringing and its ironic quality seem to strengthen this position. The circularity of events and atmosphere, and the reiteration of situations are coupled with some important changes and evolutions in the characters life and the ultimate shape of the novel seems not to be closed in a circle, but stretched to the outside, as the image of Poussin s picture seems to remind: partners disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle .
978-0954173647
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
T.Zulli-Anthony Powell.pdf

Solo gestori archivio

Dimensione 893.25 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
893.25 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/716068
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact