by Ben Forkner
Never complain, never explain. So far, so good, though I have never been overly fond of this puritanical maxim, and it seems particularly cold and crass given the loyal patience of our online readers. Still, it does allow me to limit the painful clearing of the throat before I begin again. There has not been a total draught of news, or articles, this past year, but there has been a definite thinning of the stream all during the spring and summer, followed by a slow but encouraging rise in the fall (bless the English language for those last four words). For this reason alone, it seemed prudent for the Center to consider pacing the frequency of the Newsletter to meet the relative penury of contributions, and at least for the time being, we have decided to aim for a single substantial issue a year, rather than two smaller ones, or worse yet, the unpalatable prospect of punitive delays and bitter throat clearings as regular fare. This decision is all the more defendable given our recent agreement with the Chief Librarian of the University Library of Angers, Olivier Tacheau, to publish in book form, every two or three years, a selection of the articles from past issues of the Newsletter. More details on this project will be announced soon, and if all goes well, the first Newsletter compilation will appear in time for the grand international colloquium on Burgess and autobiography in December of this year.
As far as this long-delayed sixth number is concerned, I am confident the end result will be found to be well worth the wait. We begin with a major new study of the Enderby novels by the French scholar Sylvère Monod. Many of our readers will know Professor Monod as one of the outstanding modern translaters of English literature into French, and as an international authority on Dickens, Conrad and Kipling. They may not know that he is also a fine novelist, a man of letters in the great humanist, and European, tradition, and one of the most delightful human beings I have ever encountered in the academic world. His study of the poet Enderby’s tragicomic struggle with existence casts much new light on Enderby and Rawcliffe, and suggests, very convincingly, that they both need to be reconsidered as two rival manifestations of Burgess’s own poetic life, or lives, almost as if they were two (I hesitate to write doppelglandular) lobes of the same mind. Doubles, and rival pairs, are also seen to be an organic basis for Beard’s Roman Women in an original analysis by the mysterious Martin Phipps. I say mysterious, simply because I would like to know more about his own work, and origins, and because several readers have written in to express their admiration of Phipps’s tribute to Burgess in the last issue of the Newsletter. All I remember from our brief exchange last year is that Mr Phipps lives in or near Vancouver, and thrives on raw milk (though not exclusively, I imagine). We are pleased too with the second appearance of Professor John Fletcher who speculates on the relationship between Burgess and Beckett, and who is one of the first scholars to have thoroughly explored the resources of our special collection. Finally, there are three gratifying contributions by our most faithful correspondents, without whom I would be sorely tested to continue : Douglas Milton and Andrew Biswell. Mr Milton, whose knowledge of and enthusiasm for Burgess are inexhaustible, gives us a glossary of Australian slang in Enderby Outside, and a review of the very successful performance of The Eve of Saint Venus by Peter Hudson and the Brava theatre company at the Café Flore in Paris last April. Andrew Biswell, whose biography of Burgess is proceeding apace, has taken time to write and send a book review of A.I. Farkas’s recent Will’s Son and Jake’s Peer : Anthony Burgess’s Joycean Negotiations, a study that probes the profound influence of Joyce on Burgess. I am pleased to add that Mr Farkas will be presenting a paper at our colloquium in December. One reason I have left Andrew Biswell for last, as a sort of ceremonial crowning, is to announce how delighted he has made me, and all the other members of the Center, by accepting to become the British editor of the Newsletter. Professor Biswell has recently moved to a new position at the University of Manchester, where he will be able to finish (in the heart of Burgess territory) what I have no doubt will be the definitive biography of Burgess, and where he is helping us establish what promises to be a permanent exchange between our two universities. For all your energies on our behalf, Andrew, many, many thanks.
It remains to signal to our readers that the collection of papers given at our first international colloquium, « The Avatars of A Clockwork Orange, » will be published very soon by the University of Angers Press. As soon as it appears, there will a special notice in the Newsletter, so please stay tuned. This collection, edited with an orignal essay by Emmanuel Vernadakis and Graham Woodroffe, will be, in fact, the first of a series of scholarly works on Burgess. Readers who would like to know more about the series may write directly to the Newsletter editors. By the way, our devoted Associate Editor, Valerie Neveu, should be in all our thoughts these days. Valerie broke a ligament in her knee during a ski trip, and is recovering at home. This is a painful injury, but Valerie should take heart in remembering that it occurred while she was standing perfectly still, waiting her turn. Had it happened after she had taken off down the slope, who knows how long it would have taken to find the pieces. Take care of yourself, Valerie. We need you.
One last reminder : For all information concerning the December 2004 colloquium, remember to consult the special rubric on the Center’s site. Remember too that all unsolicited contributions to the Newsletter continue to be welcome. We would be especially interested in hearing from any of you who have personal memories of Burgess during the last several years of his life.
|Last Updated on Monday, 01 July 2013 06:43|