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The London Review of Books has recently (July and August 2018) published two long articles by Perry Anderson on the novel sequence by Anthony Powell - A Dance to the music of time, in particular comparing it to Proust's A la Recherche de temps perdu. Arguing that Powell's project is unique, and that Proust's sequence is the only valid comparison, he says:

'In scale and design, the architecture of A Dance to the Music of Time is unique in Western literature. Scale: the novel covers a period of more than half a century, from 1914 to 1971. Design: it forms a sequence of 12 self-standing but completely interconnected works. Why is this combination unique? Balzac’s Comédie humaine, covering the history of society from the Revolution to the last years of the July Monarchy, is comparable in span. But its 91 volumes form no single narrative: they are separate fictions, in which characters may reappear a few times, but the stories are essentially disconnected, at best unified ex post facto by the more or less arbitrary categories of the creator’s ‘system’. The twenty volumes of Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle start with a prelude in the Ancien Régime, but as their subtitle, ‘The Natural and Social History of a Family under the Second Empire’, indicates, 18 of the novels are set in the two decades of Louis Napoleon’s rule, integrated only by a doctrine extraneous to them, ostensibly obeying a biological determinism. In Spain, Galdós produced 46 Episodios Nacionales, from the Battle of Trafalgar to the fall of the First Republic, but these are historical novels in the strict sense, comprising five distinct series, each with a new hero, and each recounting major political conflicts through the adventures of an individual.'

It is extraordinary that no mention is made, here or anywhere else in the articles, of Henry Williamson's novel sequence A Chronicle of ancient sunlight. It consists of fifteen novels covering a period from the late nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War. It has a single central figure - Phillip Maddison, loosely, or perhaps rather tightly, based on Williamson himself. The first novel - The Dark lantern - treats of Phillip's father but the rest of the sequence follows Phillip through childhood, through the First World War (five very powerful novels), disorientation after the war, taking up a career as a nature-writer, engagement with Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, taking up farming and finally suffering the isolation of someone identified as a Nazi lover through the Second World War - the whole seasoned with a seemingly endless succession of romantic affairs with young women.

I might also express surprise that Anderson doesn't mention Jules Romain's 27 volume novel squence Les Hommes de bonne volonté, covering the history of France through a coherent group of central characters from 1908 to 1933. Of course no-one would expect him to acknowledge the sequence on the history of Serbia from the late nineteenth century to the rule of Tito by Dobrica Cosic (President of 'rump-Yugoslavia' in 1992 in the early stages of the Bosnian war). Only five novels - Roots (late nineteenth-early twentieth century tension between traditional peasant Serbia and modernising European Serbia), Time of Death (First World War), Time of Evil (Communist Party in the inter-war period and the German occupation), Time of Power and Time of Deceit (the period of Tito's rule) - but Time of Death and Time of Evil are each over a thousand pages long. (1)

(1) There's also Georges Duhamel's ten volume Chronique des Pasquier.