Anthony Burgess, Selective Individualist

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It is often said that life is full of choices and the choices you make is whatmakes you yourself.

Society, however, has since the dawn of time tried to controlthe thoughts of individuals by forcing ideas upon them that destroys the person ona mental and emotional level while crushing their physical well-being. With thethoughts of a perfect world, people often forget that when you force a society toconform to standards you also kill the society’s existence in the process, making itmore machine that human. It takes a strong and educated person to realize thesemistakes made by society and try to show others why it’s wrong to try forceconformity. Anthony Burgess’ belief that “a man who cannot choose ceases to bea man” is exemplified in most of his works, but most notably in A ClockworkOrange in which a so-called good society tries to change the psyche of a troubledBorn John Anthony Burgess Wilson, Anthony Burgess is a man of greatstature and respect.

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“A big man of sturby, ramshackle appearance, with a bluntdisarming manner and awesome energy (Clemons 56).” He loved life andexpressed it in his works of literature. Born in Manchester, England during theinfluenza epidemic, during which his mother and sister passed away soon after hisbirth, Burgess’ was ignored by his father who he received little to no attentionfrom. This, however, allowed him to create the thoughts and ideas which hepreaches.

He was a man of little religious belief because he questioned why manwas put on earth. Burgess believed that people should live life in the present notfor the future, which labeled him an anarchist by the church of England. He didn’tmind the accusations though, he was content with the life he led. (Clemons 56) Anthony Burgess was a frail child, secluded from the world.

At theage of four he used his time to try and discover a talent in the arts. He highlyenjoyed drawing, writing poems, and essays but was always searching for the onemedium that he would succeed at. Burgess found music to be a art form heenjoyed the most and studied it up to college were he was forced to study Englishbecause he had a lack of qualifications. Although a little unappreciative at firstBurgess soon found a new love in English and obtained a BA degree with honorsin 1940 from Manchester University.

He Jumped from job to job teachingEnglish soon after, always trying to find happiness. Burgess worked in manydiverse areas ranging from a English master in a grammar school near oxford toan education officer for the colonial office an Malaysia. Burgess used his free-time to write, but didn’t expect too much to come from it because of a doubt in histalent. It was in Malaysia where he had his first novels, The Malaysian Trilogypublished.

Burgess soon returned home, however, in 1959 he was diagnosed witha brain tumor and was told he only had a year to live. At this point Burgess beganto write novels to support his widow-to-be wife. This was how the world came toknow him, and the reason Burgess started to write as a profession. (Clemons 57)Anthony Burgess acquired a fine taste for writing and was relieved to herethe news of a medical error in his diagnosis.

Burgess saw a sign, a blessing tellinghim to live life and do what you want to do not what your told to do. This was thewhole basis of his belief that people should be themselves and it was seen in hiswritings from that point on. “Instead of writing about the same topics as otherwriters of the same time period, [Burgess] concentrated on the themes of thedanger of loss of individuality (Tilton 55).” However, Burgess was criticizedabout his ideas because they didn’t follow the churches ideas about thinking in terms of your afterlife.

This got him in some muddy water, but only fueled theChallenging the church was a hard task. It seemed like it was Burgessagainst the world in his effort to prove his point, but it didn’t phase him justhelped him get ideas for writing more controversial material. In the late 1950’sBurgess started to work on the one piece of literature that was to share his beliefof individuality with the world. A Clockwork Orange was written because of thecriticizing of the church and was to be the pinnacle of Burgess’ career in as awriter.

Burgess once said, “My god, I had to write A Clockwork Orange in a stateof near drunkenness, in order to deal with material that upset me so much.” Burgess’ literal value was often doubted because of his well known alcoholism,and critics question the integrity before it’s release. Upon it’s release, however, allthe skepticism stop because the critics were shocked at Burgess’ war against theA Clockwork Orange was perhaps one of the most controversial novels ofthe early 1960’s. Published in 1962, by Heinemann, it focused on “Burgess’horrifying vision of the future of England (Gaduer 84),” and explains how spiritual life could lead to ones damnation.

In the story, the main character, AlexDelonge is a troubled youth that seeks, but just for an escape from prison,treatment that ultimately destroys his well-being. Alex’s character is written fromthe point of view of Burgess, and the way he feels. Alex has chosen a very evillife to live but is spiritually content because he hasn’t conformed to the world thathe hates with a passion. “The story compels the readers to like the violence that iscommitted because it shows the true nature of [Alex] (Tilton 105).

” After beingarrested for violent acts upon the conformist, society, Alex is put in prison whichhe would do anything to get out of. He is offered a means of escape by going through an experimental treatment process that alters his life by forcing him toconform to the way of life he despises through means of mental controltechniques. This makes him seem empty and emotionless. “The final chaptershows Alex as a sincere person but he likes it, he begins to question godwondering if god wants people to be good or if he wants people to be themselvesThe novel brought an uproar from the church and the religious community.

“non-augustinan Christians as well as conventional progressives objected to theextremity of Burgess’ pessimism, as well as his basically romantic conception ofevil (Bergonzi 85).” On the other hand, Burgess gained the respect from peopleall over the world. People saw that A Clockwork Orange had “philosophical aswell as literary importance (Bergonzi 85).” Anthony Burgess had got theresponse he was looking for, he shared his ideas with the world and it wasIn 1971 Stanley Kubrick adapted A Clockwork Orange into a filmwhich only helped Burgess gain even more respect.

However, due to Burgess’ useof an artificial language “nadsat”, which is a combination of Russian andAmerican slang, Kubrick was forced to reject Burgess’ original script for the filmversion. “Kubrick took out a mass majority of Burgess’ ‘nadsat’, but tried to makeup for it in visual equivalent but failed and is no way as good as the novel itself(Gaduer 84).” Burgess believed that the film failed to convey the themes of thenovel and urged people to read the book to better understand the concepts hewrote about in A Clockwork Orange. (Tilton 57)With his new found popularity Burgess continued to write novels but, also,experimented in other forms of literature.

During the 1960’s Burgess turned tojournalism to make a living. He wrote many articles for various newspapers all throughout American and Britain. Along with journalism Burgess tried toproduce at least one novel a year even though he was a very busy man. In 1969,Burgess went back to teaching writing courses in creative arts at PrincetonUniversity, and Columbia University.

In 1971, Anthony Burgess gave upteaching to try and produce an adaptation of his own work Cyrano De Bergenawhich was praised for his translation from the original work at the summerfestival in Tyrone Guthrie Theatre. Thus, started a career in playwriting. Hesuccessfully adapted novels of his own to film versions. His plays were stronglyinfluenced by James Joyce, who was known for his word play, riddles, and puns.

Burgess continued to write and produce plays for three years, and has since thenturned back to writing articles for newspapers. (Clemons 58)In modern times, Anthony Burgess’ influence is easily seen all throughoutthe world, but people are misinterpreting his ideas. Although considered ananarchist by the church of England Burgess had no intent of trying to produce asociety in which there is no law or control over people. He realized that thereneeded to be a way of keeping people under control.

Burgess favored democracybecause it allowed to people to select an educated official to represent themselves. He knew that without education there would be a lack of knowledge of how tosurvive. However, he did believe that people should be free to make there owndecisions without having to worry about people condemning them. Modern dayanarchist are taking Burgess out of context by saying that people don’t have to doAnthony Burgess is considered a leader in a movement for individuality.

He is seen as a hero for the modern day people seeking to escape from the setstandards of how life should be, and how people should act. He was raised in atime when you were expected to listen to what to people in power had to say and follow their orders. People respect his determination because there wasn’t amajority to back him up in his fight. Through hardwork and determinationAnthony Burgess has successfully conveyed his belief that “A man who cannot”I believe that the wrong god is temporarily ruling the world, and that thetrue god has gone under.

Thus, I am a pessimist but believe the world has muchsolace to offer- love, food, music… the pleasure of artistic creation” -John

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