The Acceptance World
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First edition cover
|Cover artist||James Broom-Lynne|
|Series||A Dance to the Music of Time|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||A Buyer's Market|
|Followed by||At Lady Molly's|
The Acceptance World is the third book of Anthony Powell's twelve novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time. Nick Jenkins continues the narration of his life and encounters with friends and acquaintances in London, between 1931 and 1933.
A theme is the uneven pace at which contemporaries mature, some like Templer, reach an early plateau. Jenkins' development serves as a pacemaker, against which the growth of others is measured. This is reflected in a subtle but discernible change in the language employed in dialogue, compared to that of the earlier volumes. The occult undercurrent running through the cycle surfaces with the appearance of Mrs Erdleigh, a figure presented by the author with characteristic ambiguity. The pretensions of Edwardian novelists, here represented by the ludicrous figure of St. John Clarke (mischievously based on John Galsworthy), are guyed in a memorable scene in which the elderly writer is shown lending modish support to a demonstration, while pushed in his wheelchair by the Marxist Quiggin. Jenkins is seen to move freely between high society and demi-monde, offering snapshots of both.
Nick meets Uncle Giles for tea at the Ufford Hotel and is introduced to the clairvoyant Mrs. Erdleigh, who tells their fortunes. Jenkins arranges to meet Mark Members at the Ritz but the appointment is kept by J. G. Quiggin, who has replaced Members as secretary to the novelist St. John Clarke; Nick eventually dines with Jean Duport, Peter and Mona Templer and is invited for a weekend at the Templers' in Maidenhead, which sees the start of an affair with Jean. Quiggin is invited for Sunday but has to leave due to concerns over his master. Mrs. Erdleigh is also there with Jimmy Stripling in tow and presides over a seance.
Later in spring 1933, Nick spends a day in encounters with Quiggin and Members. This includes a Memorial Exhibition for the artist Horace Isbister and a demonstration led by St. John Clarke, wheeled in his chair by Quiggin and Mona. There follow encounters with Jean and a visit to Foppa's restaurant, where Nick and Jean unexpectedly meet Barnby and Anne Stepney. Dicky Umfraville is also there. The group goes to Mrs. Andriadis' home and there meet Werner Guggenbuhl. Summer 1933 sees Jenkins, Templer, Stringham and Widmerpool at the Le Bas dinner for Old Boys, at the Ritz. Stringham arrives the worse for drink and Widmerpool makes an uninvited, boring and pompous speech, silenced only by Le Bas collapsing with a stroke. Widmerpool and Jenkins take the drunken Stringham home to bed. The book ends with intimations of an end to Nick's affair with Jean.