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Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant Signed by Anthony Powell first edition 1960

Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant Signed by Anthony Powell first edition 1960


POWELL, Anthony 

Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant

London: William Heinemann, 1960


Crown 8vo,. Red publisher’s cloth with black painted label and titles gilt to spine; publisher’s device in blind to lower board; together in the unclipped illustrated dust jacket (16s net), with the classic design by Broom Lynne; pp. [viii], 229, [iii]; a near-fine copy, with a couple of spots to the outer edge, the pages marginally, and evenly toned, perhaps a trifle rubbed to the edges; in the very good dust jacket, in far superior condition to those often found, lightly sunned to upper edge and folds; shelf-wear to the lower panel, and slightly toned along spine; retaining, still, much of its original brightness. 


First edition, inscribed by the author in the year of publication “Bill/from/Tony/with grateful thanks/for help and encouragement/June,1960”. The 5th novel in Powell’s twelve volume roman-fleuve. 


Powell was inspired to write his first novel in the Dance to the Music of Time series in 1950, after being struck by the poignancy of Nicolas Poussin’s painting of the same name, currently held in the Wallace collection in London. The books follow the protagonist, Nicholas Jenkins, as he recalls the people he meets and the events he experiences over the course of 50 years, with the story timeline covering the period from 1921 to 1971. Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant is, however, the novel which occupies the greatest majority of this fictional timeline, with the years 1928, and 1933-37 discussed. In it, the ruined door of a fictional Soho pub, The Mortimer, provides the central narrative framework for the story. 


In 2019 the journalist Christopher de Bellaigue wrote in The Nation that the series “is perhaps the supreme London novel of the 20th century, an examination of the human behaviour that defines the upper echelons of this brash, resilient, often pitiless place”. 


Signatures from Powell are scarce in and of themselves, and inscribed so fondly are indeed rare. Though I have been unable to trace the mysterious recipient of this book, ‘Tony’ is likely to have been someone close to the author during the period of time in which he was writing his famous series. 

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