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Don Swaim Interviews

Audio Interview with Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess, author of Flame into Being: Life and Words of D.H. Lawrence, The Kingdom of the Wicked and A Clockwork Orange, became a writer out of necessity. Writing was always something he loved, but he did it more as a hobby - at least until 1959, when a doctor said he would only have one year to live due to a brain tumor. After that, he could not find a job, so he turned to writing full-time for the next 40 years.

His book on D.H. Lawrence was especially important to him. Burgess found many similarities with Lawrence, both as a writer and as a man. They both came from similar backgrounds and they both had controversial books. For Burgess, it was A Clockwork Orange. Not much was said about the book until ten years after its publication when it was made into a movie. Burgess was accused of promoting rape, violence, fornication - criticisms he was still trying to live down at the time of this interview. Burgess said the real intent of the book was to address the conflict between good and evil.

This same theme is also evident in The Kingdom of the Wicked, where he delves into the conflict from the theological angle. But ultimately, this novel is a comedy.

Others critisize Burgess for attempting to write a novel from the perspective of a homosexual as a heterosexual man. Burgess argues that many writers are too narrow and afraid to take chances. But, he admits it's not an easy task.

Listen to the Anthony Burgess interview with Don Swaim, September 19, 1985, RealAudio
(34 min. 06 sec.)

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For many years most of the best writers of the English language found their way to Don Swaim's CBS Radio studio in New York. Wired for Books is proud to webcast these interviews in their entirety.

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