Give Burgess a Chance

Colin Burrow on the new Anthony Burgess bio (and more): “Burgess’s confused and not quite nasty response to his times (it is not quite nasty because it is so clearly a pose) makes it extremely hard to assess how good he is. There are those who think he was a miracle of style. Others regard him as a verbalist, someone who could perceive no reality beyond words, who liked the bigger ones the best, and who wanted his readers to cry out with ‘ahs’ and ‘ohs’ as they reached for their dictionaries….But despite all the show there can be a kind of brilliance in his work. Burgess is at his best, and his funniest, when he is a grammarian and a phonologist.”

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