THE CLOCKWORK TESTAMENT, OR, ENDERBY'S END by Anthony Burgess

THE CLOCKWORK TESTAMENT, OR, ENDERBY'S END

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KIRKUS REVIEW

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. Between that book and this, he has reverted to his old name and habit of poetizing in the loo, and has crossed paths with some movie people. His screenplay, based on a poem of G.M. Hopkins, becomes a sort of big box-office seat-wetter that gets writers invited to teach in New York. Thus, art imitating life, Enderby's experience and attitudes swing into plumb with Burgess'. Enderby arrives on the Upper West Side, dazed and hyper-lexical in a hand-me-down Edwardian topcoat, grappling kindergartenishly with brand names, reg. U.S. Pat. Off., and is preoccupied now with a long poem about Pelagius, another British innocent in cosmopolis, who argued for reason and free will vs. St. Augustine's decadent predestination. A very good and relevant question which the City throws back at him, in gross forms, from all angles -- the fragments of urban collapse are magnetized briefly by hostility to the artist, who is out of it. His open-admissions students of creative writing, in their contempt for the triviality of art, threaten hit inscape (Hopkins); pompous columnists and glandular TV men charge him with abuse of social influence, to which he rises with the intelligibility of a chicken; and finally the last of his many death threats actualizes in the form of a mild suburban wife who has suffered once too often the effects of sublimation. Even dead, Enderby is still alive and whelmingly there. Brilliant in malice, but also, oddest bloody thing, in truth, with even a whiff of tenderness. Enderby has filled out and, like art by God, deserves to live.
Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1974
ISBN: 0070089728
Page count: 161pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1974




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