Anthony Burgess Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, Anthony Burgess published eight works of literary criticism. He paid tribute to his self-confessed literary mentor, James Joyce, in such works as Re Joyce (1965) and Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce (1972). His book reviews and essays were collected in The Novel Now (1967), Urgent Copy: Literary Studies (1968), and Homage to Qwert Yuiop (1985; also known as But Do Blondes Prefer Gentlemen? Homage to Qwert Yuiop, and Other Writings, 1986). His fascination with language and with the lives of writers led to such works as Language Made Plain (1964), Shakespeare (1970), and Flame into Being: The Life and Work of D. H. Lawrence (1985). An autobiographical work, Little Wilson and Big God, was published in 1987 (part of which was republished in 1996 as Childhood), and a collection of short fiction, The Devil’s Mode, in 1989. A posthumous volume of his uncollected writings, One Man’s Chorus (1998), includes a variety of essays divided into sections on travel, contemporary life, literary criticism, and personality sketches.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In his novels, Anthony Burgess extended the boundaries of English fiction. His inventive use of language, his use of symphonic forms and motifs, his rewriting of myths and legends, his examination of cultural clashes between the developing world and the West, and his pursuit of various ways to tell a story established him as one of the chief exemplars of postmodernism. His novels are studied in contemporary fiction courses, and he also achieved popular success with such works as A Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers, for which he received the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger in 1981. Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film A Clockwork Orange (1971) further established Burgess’s popular reputation.

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anthony Burgess reveals a great deal about his attitude toward women in his writing. Discuss the attitudes that he reveals.

What are the chief characteristics that Burgess’s characters reveal in love relationships?

Burgess is much concerned with such dichotomies as good and evil. Discuss the dichotomies that appear to motivate him most significantly.

How does Burgess use humor to appeal to general readers of his work?

Discuss Burgess’s attitude toward religion as revealed in his writing.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Aggeler, Geoffrey. Anthony Burgess: The Artist as Novelist. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1979. The best and most accurately detailed study of work published in the first twenty years of Burgess’s career. Includes analysis of A Clockwork Orange, Napoleon Symphony, Enderby Outside, Inside Mr. Enderby, Nothing Like the Sun, and other novels.

Aggeler, Geoffrey, ed. Critical Essays on Anthony Burgess. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986. A collection of well-regarded criticism on Burgess, with particular attention given to his “linguistic pyrotechnics.” Aggeler’s introduction presents an overview of Burgess’s work and discussion of his novels, followed by a Paris Review interview with Burgess.

Biswell, Andrew. The Real Life of Anthony Burgess. London: Picador, 2005. Well-researched biography of Burgess explores his personal life, including his heavy drinking and sexual promiscuity. His most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange, is also discussed, along with Burgess’s common themes of corruption, sin, and human beings’ capacity for evil.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Anthony Burgess. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. A compilation of fine critical essays, including an essay by the eminent critic of James Joyce, Robert Martin Adams, who considers Joyce’s influence on Burgess. In the introduction, Bloom presents his views on Burgess’s writing, citing Inside Mr. Enderby as one of the most underrated...

(The entire section is 658 words.)