The Life and Work of Anthony Burgess

Topics: Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange, Nadsat Pages: 5 (1871 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Life and Work of Anthony Burgess

"Autobiography: Story of one's life, written by oneself."(Halsey 64). Everyone knows what an autobiography is, but not so many people realize that although not all authors write a book that can be called a factual autobiography, many authors frequently allow personal, real life experiences to influence their fictional writings. An excellent example of such an author is Anthony Burgess. Anthony Burgess is recognized today as an English novelist, critic, essayist, and composer (editor CLC 80). Burgess is such a literary genius, it was once said of him that "... his agent, publisher, and his entry in "Who's Who" could not provide the exact number of books he wrote." (Baldwin A8). Some of Burgess's works include The Long Day Wanes, The Doctor is Sick, and, perhaps Burgess's most famous book, Clockwork Orange. A Clockwork Orange is an interesting novel that paints a picture of a gruesome violence in the not-so- distant future. The story is based on, and told by the narrator, the fifteen- year old Alex, but it shows many references to the life and experience of its author. In a series of five books, Burgess also focused on his life experiences. Enderby's Dark Lady was the fifth in the series, and that will be the second book focused on in this paper. Anthony Burgess's work in A Clockwork Orange and Enderby's Dark Lady strongly reflects significant events or influences in his own life.

Anthony Burgess was born John Burgess Wilson in Manchester, England in early 1917. (Stinson 1). Both of Burgess's parents were members of the theatric arts: His father was a pianist, his mother was a musical actress. Burgess went to a Catholic elementary school, and was one of the many victims of the "iron discipline and largely rote memorization" (Stinson 2) typical in such schools of the time. Burgess attended Xaverian College, and later moved on to the inexpensive University of Manchester, where he hoped to pursue an education in music. He was rejected form the music department because he had failed physics. Instead, Burgess entered the English department (Stinson 6). In 1940, Burgess graduated with his B.A., with honors, in literature and English language (Stinson 7). Shortly after, Burgess enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and spent most of his six years in the service in the entertainment section, playing the piano and writing songs, or in the Army Educational Corps (Stinson 7). In 1946, Burgess was discharged with the rank of sergeant-major. Burgess found himself employed in several different jobs, and living in several different countries in the years that followed. In 1948 he became English Master at a grammar school in Banbury, near Oxford. During his time in Banbury, Burgess wrote occasionally, but saw writing as a time consuming process that took away from his composing. It was around this time of transition that Burgess received a letter form his publisher, Heinemann stating that his first novel, A Vision of Battlements was to be published, and they were requesting another. So began Burgess's career of as a novelist (Stinson 9).

In 1956, Burgess was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His doctors gave him one year to live. In a mad panic to leave some form of income behind for his wife, Lynne Jones, Burgess set out to write ten novels in one year. Buy the end of Burgess's first year as a full-time writer, he had completed about five and one half novels. A few weeks after the end of the first year, the doctors told Burgess that they found no sign of the tumor, and he was going to live after all (Baldwin A8). This was just the beginning of Burgess's career as a writer. Although some of Burgess's works were not treated kindly by the critics, the majority of his novels were generally well received by the public. In 1962, Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange, the novel that many readers discovered Burgess's genius through. To date, this is still his most famous book...
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