Anthony Burgess: The Artist as Novelist

Anthony Burgess: The Artist as Novelist

Anthony Burgess: The Artist as Novelist

Anthony Burgess: The Artist as Novelist

Excerpt

And a very happy New Year to you, too, Mr. Burgess!

The wish, however, is wasted on both sides, for this, to your night visitors, is a very old year. We—whispering, fingering, rustling, creaking, about your roach-ridden West Side flat—are that posterity to which you hopefully address yourself. Congratulations, Mr. Burgess: you have already hit your ball smack over the pavilion clock, not to mention the left-field wall on this American side of the Atlantic. If you awaken now with one of the duodenal or pyloric twinges of your poet Enderby (which are to us as gruesome a literature-lesson spicer as Johnson's scrofula, Swift's scatophopia, or Keats's gallop of death-warrant blood), do not fancy it is ghosts you hear, sibilant and crepitant about the bed. To be a ghost one has first to die.

But you are still very much alive, Mr. Burgess, in spite of the eager North American scholars who would regard you as dead and ready for decent interment in an elegant sarcophagus of scholarly exegesis. I'm sorry, Priscilla, that I cannot recommend examples of "early," "middle," or "late" Burgess, for I cannot honestly say he appears to be anywhere near the end of his revels. You see, for about a dozen years, he has had a disease uncommon among writers of serious fiction: it is called fecundity.

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