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Burgess and Criticism - Rhoda Koenig

Episode 4 of 5

An essay by Rhoda Koenig about writer Anthony Burgess.

Anthony Burgess is one of the best-known English literary figures of the latter half of the twentieth century. A polymath of the highest order, he was a novelist, composer, translator, screenwriter, travel writer, teacher, linguist, phoneticist, essayist, short-story writer, critic and poet.

Five writers, some of whom knew him in person, reflect on their favourite Burgess incarnation, exploring this extraordinary 20th-century man of letters from different angles. Everything Burgess wrote contributed to his main oeuvre, his musical composition as important to him as his novels that were shaped heavily by his critical analysis of other's fiction which was informed by his poetry and so on. Burgess at 100 offers personal as well as critical insight into why and how he is a literary figure of such importance.

Part of Radio 3's Burgess Centenary programming, marking 100 years since the birth of Manchester-born novelist and playwright Anthony Burgess.

Burgess and criticism - Rhoda Koenig

Rhoda Koenig has spent the first half of her life in the US, the second in England. She has been a theatre reviewer and literary feature writer for The Independent and literary editor, then book reviewer, for New York magazine. She has reviewed books for the Times, the Telegraph, the Standard, the New York Review of Books, Vogue, the TLS, the LA Times, the Spectator, Private Eye, and many other publications. She is the author of a book, The New Devil's Dictionary, an update of the original by Ambrose Bierce.

Anthony Burgess is a key figure in 20th-century world literature. His dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is still a global best seller, and was adapted into a highly controversial film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. Burgess produced numerous other novels, including the Enderby quartet, and Earthly Powers, regarded by many as his greatest novel. He wrote librettos and screenplays, including for the 1977 TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. He worked as a literary critic for several publications, including The Observer and The Guardian, and wrote studies of classic writers, notably James Joyce. A versatile linguist, Burgess lectured in phonetics, and translated Cyrano de Bergerac and the opera Carmen, among others. Burgess also composed over 250 musical works.

Producer, Polly Thomas
Production Coordinator, Sarah Kenny
Executive Producer, Eloise Whitmore

With thanks to Andrew Biswell and the International Anthony Burgess Foundation

A Naked Production for BBC Radio 3.

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15 minutes


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