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Honey for the Bears [Paperback]

Anthony Burgess
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Jun 1973
A sharply written satire, Honey for the Bears sends an unassuming antiques dealer, Paul Hussey, to Russia to do one final deal on the black market as a favor for a dead friend's wife. Even on the ship's voyage across, the Russian sensibility begins to pervade: lots of secrets and lots of vodka. When his American wife is stricken by a painful rash and he is interrogated at his hotel by Soviet agents who know that he is trying to sell stylish synthetic dresses to the masses starved for fashion, his precarious inner balance is thrown off for good. More drink follows, discoveries of his wife's illicit affair with another woman, and his own submerged sexual feelings come breaking through the surface, bubbling up in Russian champagne and caviar.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Jun 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140035516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140035513
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,159,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anthony Burgess (25th February 1917-22nd November 1993) was one of the UK's leading academics and most respected literary figures. A prolific author, during his writing career Burgess found success as a novelist, critic, composer, playwright, screenwriter, travel writer, essayist, poet and librettist, as well as working as a translator, broadcaster, linguist and educationalist. His fiction includes Nothing Like the Sun, a recreation of Shakespeare's love-life, but he is perhaps most famous for the complex and controversial novel A Clockwork Orange, exploring the nature of evil. Born in Manchester, he spent time living in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England, until his death in 1993.

Product Description


Honey for the Bears is one of the best-planned and most brilliantly executed books I have seen in a long time. . . . The reader . . . is in the presence of a virtuoso. " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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'AND what,' asked (loudly because of the music) this patrician parrot of a Tiresias from its wheelchair, skirt or trousers hidden by tartan rugs, 'might be your purpose in going to St Petersburg?' Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed 30 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel is very much marred by the fact that Burgess does not speak (or know) Russian as well as he thinks he does...
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COMEDY NOVEL ABOUT RUSSIA? 30 Aug 2003
By Tony J
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars burgess 26 Aug 2004
By A Customer
this book is well written, entertaining and thought provoking!
One sympathises with poor Paul 'Gussey' as his plans for the sale of illegally smuggled drillon dresses in the soviet union goes hidiously and hilariously wrong!
With a 'cast' of characters are believable as any and such a detailed and well written plot, it's easy to see why Burgess is regarded as one of the greatest modern writers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's ashame that this book isn't more popular... 4 Aug 2001
By "error101" - Published on Amazon.com
It is by chance that I read this book. And I don't regret it. I loved Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, and, naturally, I wanted to read more. After looking over the reviews of The Doctor is Sick ,The Complete Mr. Enderby, and The Wanting Seed, I decided I'd look for one of those. I went to the local bookstore, and sadly (or so I thought at the time) they only had one copy of Honey for the Bears, about 7 copies of A Clockwork Orange and a couple of works he did on Shakespeare. I read the summary for Honey for the Bears, and I was uninterested. However, for lack of reading material, I bought it.
It was excellent. Burgess is really talented. Unlike so many other books, this one never gets boring, not even for a second. Taking a journey of self exploration with Paul could not possibly be more entertaining, funny, exciting or meaningful than Burgess makes it. You'll enjoy this book if you like a well constructed plot and interesting story line. This was not in any way Russian babble not worth reading unless Russian yourself. (I'm not Russian, never have been to Russia, and don't know any of the Russian language. I will go even furthur to say that you most certainly don't have to have a great interest in Russia to enjoy this book!) At the risk of sounding cliche, this is just one of those books that entertains you the whole way through.
It's not complete candy though: Burgess used Russian throughout this book, making it a little diffult to understand at times. I had to reread a few parts, but it wasn't a chore at all, and surprisingly, did not bother me. Everything comes together at the end, although is not always what you expect. Delightful. I'm surprised this wasn't made into a movie.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian to Sell the Satire 12 Jan 2002
By "umd_cyberpunk" - Published on Amazon.com
Anthony Burgess' "Honey for the Bears," is a fast paced farcical satire set in Cold War period Soviet Russia. Following an antiques dealer and his wife as the two attempt to sell cheep dresses on the black market as a favor to a friend.
Sexual morays and British stereo type stuffiness are thrown out the window as the two find themselves trapped in the Soviet Union with the police on Paul Hussey's trail. On the boat ride over his American wife, Belinda, becomes sick and finds herself hospitalized for a terrible rash.
"Honey for the Bears" satirizes the secret capitalist desires of the Soviet people with a schizophrenic jump between their urges for Western pleasures and at the same time a contempt for the capitalist pigs that cannot even take care of their own people.
Sharp, witty and insightful, Burgess again succeeds in bringing together a dark twisted world that strongly resembles our own. As always, Burgess' mastery of linguistics shines through as he plays games with language and dialects: thus giving his characters a sense of reality.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bergusse's greatest books...EVER 5 Jun 2001
By alaa alnaji - Published on Amazon.com
It is true that this book is underappreciated compared to the other great books of the author like Enderby and A ClockWork Orange nonetheless it's a great piece of fiction.No other book has given us a better description about the Soviet union or it's people.Our hero paul is a guy to be admired and pitied all through the novel.The book is funny,touching and fun to read and remember that the winter has come with it's long dark nights if u dont know what I mean read the story and u will find out.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inventive and funny--Refreshingly wordy 22 Jun 1999
By allgrownsup@mailcity.com - Published on Amazon.com
This is by far the best book I've read by Mr. Burgess. It's excellent all the way through--it just doesn't stop. You can tell he thought it out well. Everything he says, he says in a way that is very, very entertaining and funny. It also has a hilarious plot and some great characters. I told my friends about this book, but, being fifteen years old, none of them will read it. So now I'm recommending this to everyone who reads this. This is a great work of fiction and it will please anyone willing to open up their minds for a novel.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful social commentary 3 May 2011
By J. Edgar Mihelic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Were I more of an academic, I would consider that at this point I am starting to get a picture of who Anthony Burgess was and the over-arching themes of his work were (Russia, linguistics, homosexuality, James Joyce, etc). Any casual reader who is only familiar with his work through the rightly famous A Clockwork Orange (Norton Critical Editions) would be aware of Burgess's Russo-phile ways. This book is able to use the Russia of the sixties to show the absurdities that arise in both the communist east and the capitalist west. This book is a wonderful social commentary that is strongly rooted in its time and social reality, which must be why it has lingered on the back-list though still in print because of the author's other, more popular work.

That it has lingered is surprising, since it is more than just a political and historical document. It is a first-rate farce. It stars Paul Hussey, a member of the bourgeois, shop-owning striving English middle class. His friend [and sometimes lover] has passed, leaving a widow. The friend had a history of selling western clothes on the Soviet black market, and Paul is trying to follow through one last time to bring home some profit for his friend's widow and have a little holiday himself. Needless to say, the trip does not turn out as planned, bit to run through all the fun twists and turns would ruin the fun and be a third-rate narrative compared to what Burgess is able spin.

What surprised me was researching the book and finding out that it was not made into a movie that I was able to find. This would have been the perfect vehicle for a middle-age Michael Cain. Sadly, its moment has passed, as the socio-political surroundings that made this novel possible are now alien to most.
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