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The Real Life of Anthony Burgess
The Real Life of Anthony Burgess
by Andrew Biswell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oranges are not the only fruit, 21 Sept. 2006
For the generations introduced to Anthony Burgess via Malcolm McDowell's balletic beatings in the Kubrick film of 'A Clockwork Orange', this thorough, energetic and intelligent biography should serve to redefine him as an enigma worthy of their attention, rather than a one book pony.

Andrew Biswell's biography is clearly a labour of love, and the work of a tireless Burgess scholar. If there is a stone yet to be turned in the search for the real Burgess, it will be pretty well hidden to avoid Biswell's diligent eye - he presents rare documents and letters, along with candid interviews with those who knew Burgess, with an ease to put any other biographers to shame and make them wonder what they were doing with their time.

The books and the man are cleverly interlinked, with considered theories as to the importance of religion, sexuality and language into the astonishing body of work left to the world by the dauntingly prolific Burgess.

It's fitting, though, given the unavoidable fame of the novel, that Biswell is at his best analysing 'A Clockwork Orange', providing real insights into its genesis and the moral complexities of the text, as well as the deft wordplay that gives it such a distinct character. Importantly, Biswell is as competent a film reviewer as he is biographer, giving the Kubrick movie an even-handed appraisal, distanced from the controversy that has dogged it.

Of course, it's quickly established that there is much more to Burgess than 'A Clockwork Orange', the novel not being considered a major work by its creator - and this searching piece of work is up to the task of unravelling the tangled life of a fascinating fictionist. An illuminating study for scholars, fans, and anyone discovering Burgess' powers for the first time.
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