Books by Anthony Burgess

Released: Dec. 1, 1998

While this posthumous collection of essays, articles, and occasional pieces from the last two decades of Burgess's life hardly ranks with his more signal works such as Byrne, (1997), and Clockwork Orange, (1962), its erudition, deftness, and polymathic range make it an exceptionally good read. Read full book review >

BYRNE by Anthony Burgess
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

"This is a swan song like no other, and one of the most delightful books of the decade."
The prolific (over 50 books) and protean Burgess (1917-93), author of such amazingly varied fictions as Enderby (1967), Napoleon Symphony (1974), and A Dead Man in Deptford (1995), left this rambunctious "novel in verse" completed at his death. Read full book review >
A DEAD MAN IN DEPTFORD by Anthony Burgess
Released: May 1, 1995

"A fitting final tribute from one great English writer to the genius of another."
In a daring romp through history, theology, sex, language, and espionage, the late Burgess (A Mouthful of Air, 1993, etc.) contrives a disarmingly realistic literary thriller with an unlikely sybarite as its hero. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 20, 1993

"If the role of literature, as Burgess says, is to challenge the commonplace uses of words—to use language inventively and to exploit it aesthetically—then this remarkable book is a rare contribution to the literature of language: a love affair explained and shared."
Burgess has demonstrated his passion for language in his fiction, his essays and reviews, and his multivolumed autobiography (You've Had Your Time, 1991, etc.)—but now, at age 76, he explains it, sharing in this personable yet encyclopedic survey his intimate and extensive knowledge of the "miracle" of it. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1991

"Tiptop—though the second half is less satiric."
Burgess's best book and, he's said, his last: the second and final part of his autobiography, following Little Wilson and Big God (1986). Read full book review >
THE DEVIL'S MODE by Anthony Burgess
Released: Nov. 27, 1989

"For serious fans only."
Nine short stories from the English-born author of the Enderby series, Clockwork Orange, Any Old Iron, and numerous other milestones. Read full book review >
ANY OLD IRON by Anthony Burgess
Released: Feb. 2, 1988

"Fine spinning—with the author's telltale skill for detail—linguistics, music, impeccable dialogue—again in top form."
In his first novel since Earthly Powers (1980), Burgess here returns with a vengeance in this rich and witty historical tale—a broad project spanning major events of the 20th century. Read full book review >
THE PIANOPLAYERS by Anthony Burgess
Released: Oct. 22, 1986

"1983) to devilishly good use."
From the prolific Burgess (The Kingdom of the Wicked, Enderby's Dark Lady, etc.) comes a rollicking, bawdy paean to (mainly) vaudeville life in English seaside towns of the late 20's. Read full book review >
Released: March 31, 1986

"Forgive him his obtuse remarks."
This collection of nearly 200 short reviews and literary pieces—probably necessarily uneven in quality given the publish-in-haste nature of his book reviewing—demonstrates Burgess' broad learning and also his habitual critical highhandedness. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 25, 1986

"A wise and witty autobiography, resplendidly entertaining and chock-full of the memorabilia of a typical life lived with atypical fervor: top-drawer Burgess."
In his Preface, Burgess claims that his two-volume autobiography (this being Volume I) will close his writing career. Read full book review >
KINGDOM OF THE WICKED by Anthony Burgess
Released: Sept. 23, 1985

"Repetition of central ideas and intercutting of Roman and Christian scenes technically pull the novel together, but, if learned, it's lifeless."
The Acts of the Apostles meets The Satyricon—with surprisingly leaden results. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1984

"But the central comic situation never comes to satiric life (mystery-writer Simon Brett would have gotten more laughs from it); the love-story manquÉ is limp; and the two strengths of the previous novels—the Enderby character, the rococo narration—only flair sporadically in this twiddling spin-off."
Enderby the Poet—corpulent, flatulent, malicious—arrived, full of bile and Joycean brio, in Enderby (1968). Read full book review >
THIS MAN AND MUSIC by Anthony Burgess
Released: Sept. 12, 1983

Veteran novelist Burgess is also a composer—he includes a surprisingly long list of music-works here—and these are "highly personal meditations" on music and literature, their contrasts and intersections. Read full book review >
Released: March 21, 1983

"This book is very deep'), considerably less than meets the eye."
Here you have three fascinating stories bound together. Read full book review >
EARTHLY POWERS by Anthony Burgess
Released: Dec. 1, 1980

"Despite all the issues and debates, then: an essentially skin-deep entertainment, chiefly for savvy Anglophiles and theologically inclined littÉrateurs, which—as Toomey says of his own work—takes unprofound material and manages 'to elevate it through wit, allusion and irony to something like art."
Much too, long and just as loosely assembled as his other recent novels, Burgess' latest black-comic variation on man's sin and God's cruel tricks does have, however, an engagingly grandiose design: the life of homosexual, lapsed-Catholic Kenneth Toomey—a popular, second-rate novelist/playwright whose dates (1890-1971) and connections embrace most of the sexual, artistic, and religious pressure points of the century's first half. Read full book review >
MAN OF NAZARETH by Anthony Burgess
Released: April 8, 1979

"Make of this what you will theologically—call it liberal Protestant or radical Catholic—but Burgess deserves A for effort in an impossible assignment."
Re-telling the story of Jesus is like re-inventing the wheel—it's Been Done, leaving a novelist merely the option of new alignments. Read full book review >
1985 by Anthony Burgess
Released: Oct. 1, 1978

"Libertarian in outlook, cartoony in shape, this novella has the charm of curiosity; but as with so much Burgess, it gets snagged in the groove of its cleverest idea and really succeeds only as an attractively trivial literary-boutique item."
An essay on Orwell's novel 1984; then Burgess' own stab—in the form of a novella—at adjusting the prophecy in Orwell's book to more likely scenarios. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1978

"Burgess shows respect for Hemingway's innovative prose procedures and sadness about his increasingly pathological life—all in that graceful Burgess style, not too tricky for once—but finally it's like a little wave too late and from too far away: a gesture, and of no consequence whatsoever."
With nothing near the sympathetic engagement he finds with Joyce, Burgess comes rather diffidently to this once-over-lightly biography of Hemingway—short text, page-sized pictures, the barest critical attention to the work. Read full book review >
BEARD'S ROMAN WOMEN by Anthony Burgess
Released: Sept. 1, 1976

"It's been a clever performance but fades out quickly."
In A Clockwork Orange (1962), Burgess tried to chill us with the portrait of a culture that takes its values from the television set. Read full book review >
NAPOLEON SYMPHONY by Anthony Burgess
Released: May 1, 1974

"Helena, a terrific film unfolding in burgundy-tinted filters, out of the typewriter endlessly spooling, dead from excess, may Ludwig van forgive."
Burgess (Clockwork Orange) strives windily for a weave of story and music into one mock heroic comic wordblast suggesting a novel in cloudborne movements like Beethoven's Eroica, sometimes hurtling, sometimes at funeral pace, but giving the reader a historical framework fluted with streamers of language, all stops pulled out on free association, words whirling like Finnegan Wake or spelled backwards, sentences and whole passages in echoing repeats from one movement to the next, long passages in rhymed couplets, an overrich rainbow prose layered like petits fours, all bravura, all egoism, a posturing Promethean spew of supreme self-indulgence, a whole palaceful of Empire furniture crushed into a fruitcube like a Cadillac in a junkyard compactor, raisined with vaginal vulgarities, richly obscene foot soldiers as chorus to scenes plunged into without warning, a wagon bearing Napoleon's thinking corpse, Italy, Egypt, Paris, Elba, St. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 27, 1974

"Enderby has filled out and, like art by God, deserves to live."
Back in Enderby (1968) the hero was himself subjected to a psychic retooling much like Clockwork's Alex: Enderby Poet — turned Hogg and Barman — could only reconstitute himself as Hoggerby, last seen tending bar in Tangier. Read full book review >
MF by Anthony Burgess
Released: March 1, 1971

"Burgess does something comparable for his claque and other readers with Olympian patience."
The title initials stand first for the hero, Miles Faber, peculiarly orphaned and at twenty ripe for some rite of passage or other. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1971

"To go any further with Howard's photographic brain and sick mind would be another kind of betrayal — enjoy it for what it is — a right proper little fairy tale, a right improper little horror story, which altogether disarms."
Use both — this is apparently an entertainment Burgess wrote ten years ago under another name and who would suspect all that is going to happen after Howard Shirley with his photographic memory applies it to winning one thousand pounds on a TV quiz show and then to something short of a hundred thousand by summoning up the winners at the races. Read full book review >
SHAKESPEARE by Anthony Burgess
Released: Oct. 14, 1970

With a little highly educated guesswork but no invention, with great humor and infinite admiration, the "nth" attempt to recreate the life and society from which the plays and poems stemmed, as well as to lend substance to the shadow of the man. Read full book review >
URGENT COPY by Anthony Burgess
Released: March 1, 1969

"In short, a pleasure to read and to ponder."
With rare exceptions, American critics give the impression of being Sisyphean laborers hauling their jazzy commendations or all too earnest pronouncements up the steep grammatical peaks of daily or weekly reviewing. Read full book review >
ENDERBY by Anthony Burgess
Released: June 10, 1968

"Strong publisher promotion as his work most likely to succeed with a wide audience."
As even admirers of Mr. Burgess will acknowledge, he is not only a taste to be acquired but an appetite to be sated. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 29, 1967

"A list of writers and their works appears at the end of each chapter (and admittedly has already dated this)—the comment, as such, is usually charitable; the book is to be appraised within its self-declared intentions and limitations."
Burgess has qualified his "Student's Guide to Contemporary Fiction" so modestly and variously in his introduction that one hesitates to further question its utility. Read full book review >
Released: May 10, 1967

This is Burgess' earlier Malayan trilogy, which includes Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East, Burgess' comic valedictory to colonialism, centering around the experiences of an Englishman in the Education Service. Read full book review >
THE DOCTOR IS SICK by Anthony Burgess
Released: April 25, 1966

"A stack of mad climaxes, all wonderfully operative."
A cinematic British comedy in which Thurber-Man is pitted against London riff-raff, this doesn't give the full range of Burgess' Promethean verbal with but it is hilarious. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 2, 1966

"No doubt pedants will object to the Burgess 'cuts' but since he has tastefully selected the more readable portions, accenting Joyce's robust lyricism and heartiest puns, and kept a good weather-eye open towards shaping the novel's outrageously double-dealing symbology, A Shorter Finnegans Wake may well prove to be a college favorite, and perhaps even seduce a few stalwarts into attacking the real thing."
Though James Joyce is safely lodged in the pantheon of modern literature, he still occasions impudent remarks. Read full book review >
NOTHING LIKE THE SUN by Anthony Burgess
Released: Sept. 21, 1964

"The novel's no classic but the writing's grand."
Who was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets? Read full book review >
THE WANTING SEED by Anthony Burgess
Released: June 15, 1963

"His starting pace is fast and pointed, but this slows to a crawl when wit becomes predictable silliness and when his characters go from hungry flesh to cardboard."
London, far in the unwholesome future, has a totally-directed society where miscegenation has ruined Anglo-Saxon ways and features; where homosexuality is the official order-of-the-day and where insistent heterosexuals are kept to a low quota for reproduction. Read full book review >
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
Released: Jan. 8, 1962

"What happens to Alex is terrible but it is worse for the reader."
The previous books of this author (Devil of a State, 1962; The Right to an Answer, 1961) had valid points of satire, some humor, and a contemporary view, but here the picture is all out—from a time in the future to an argot that makes such demands on the reader that no one could care less after the first two pages.

If anyone geta beyond that—this is the first person story of Alex, a teen-age hoodlum, who, in step with his times, viddies himself and the world around him without a care for law, decency, honesty; whose autobiographical language has droogies to follow his orders, wallow in his hate and murder moods, accents the vonof human hole products. Read full book review >
DEVIL OF A STATE by Anthony Burgess
Released: Jan. 9, 1961

"Life in the colonies in a jaundiced light, this lacks the direct focus of the earlier book."
This, as did its predecessor The Right to an Answer (published at the beginning of this year) has a sardonic approach to its story — that of Lydgate, a much married Passport Officer in the little African caliphate of Dunia, who suffers much and often when his past catches up with him. Read full book review >
THE RIGHT TO AN ANSWER by Anthony Burgess
Released: Jan. 1, 1960

"With a feeling for the ludicrous, for high lighted characters and cumulatively heightened situations, this plays the 'angry' theme with adult modulations."
This middle aged businessman's review of his involvements in the lives of others is in the British comic spirit. J. W. Denham, whose job keeps him in the East, particularly Japan, rebels at the "putridity of damnation" he finds on his return to the suburb of the smug Midland city that is his home. Read full book review >