A Dance to the Music of Time: Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant – 2nd Movement (Powell)

In this installment, we find Nick and his circle thinking, with their sense of “aristocratic idealism,” about the Spanish Civil War. Closer to home, the talk is of marriages and “the judgment of terrible silences” that often dooms them. Speaking of silences, our narrator’s wife, Isobel, has something akin to a cameo here. I can’t figure out what Powell is doing here. Why does she have such a small role?

Time is definitely passing here. Two characters die. Several have clearly grown older; others are on their second or third marriages. The sense of nostalgia is embodied in the title, as many characters remember a night at the restaurant which featured a long conversation about different kinds of lovers.

Miss Weedon absolutely steals her one scene.

What’s new here is a haunting sense of momentum. Time is definitely marching on in a way that seems as frightening as the Ghost Railway image evoked at the end of this section.

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