A novel in verse form, "Byrne" echoes and takes further many of the preoccupations of Burgess's earlier fiction. It tells the story of a rampant Irish artist who, in the early days of the century, goes rapidly to the bad and ends up within Hitler's Third Reich.
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Anthony Burgess was born in Manchester in 1917. He served in the army from 1940 to 1954 before becoming a colonial education officer. It was while he held this post that doctors told him he would die, and he decided to try to live by writing. A prolific and respected author, Burgess died in 1993.From Kirkus Reviews:
The prolific (over 50 books) and protean Burgess (191793), author of such amazingly varied fictions as Enderby (1967), Napoleon Symphony (1974), and A Dead Man in Deptford (1995), left this rambunctious ``novel in verse'' completed at his death. Borrowing both Byron's ottava rima and the nine-line stanza Spenser employed in The Faerie Queen (and throwing in a few sonnets for good measure), Burgess's anonymous narrator celebrates and regrets the gluttonous life indulged by his Falstaffian subject--an Irish Don Juan if there ever was one. The eponymous Michael Byrne achieves fame as artist, composer, and cocksman as he beds willing women and fathers disgruntled children, surviving political and erotic dangers in Hitler's Germany before disappearing into the Far East, and legend. The ``fruits of his insemination'' pursue their own dreams and flee their own demons (one is a priest, another author apocalyptic reunion with their Aged (and Unregenerate) Parent. Punk terrorists and Muslim fanatics bent on dishonoring Dante Alighieri also join in this word-drunk romp, which is distinguished by literally dozens of ingeniously brilliant comic rhymes: SS-men boozily strutting their stuff express ``the joy of being drunk and Aryan./Though Hitler was a teetotalitarian,'' and an enlightened defense of the maligned Albert Einstein becomes ``How the hell has his Jewishness impaired/The formula E=Mc2?'' It isn't easy to stop quoting. Surely, somewhere Byron is rolling over in his grave. Laughing. It's heartening to learn from this wonder-filled book that, right up to the end of his life, the invaluable Burgess continued to enjoy writing as few writers have ever done. This is a swan song like no other, and one of the most delightful books of the decade. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Hutchinson, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0091792045