I am dying Egypt, dying.
A plague a’both your houses, I am sped. I go, and it is done, the bell invites me. A hit, a very palpable hit!
I’m sick, in case you were wondering why I am quoting macabre Shakespeare at you all. In the interests of full disclosure I’m not actually dying, but I am suffering the effects of my Hep A, Hep B and Typhoid vaccinations piling up on each other and making me feel very unwell and very sorry for myself.
I am however, lucky enough to be convalescing in lovely Oxford. So far, from my sick bed (which is now technically a sick window-seat) I have found absolutely nothing of interest to post about, apart from these people, and of course the entire Biffy discography, which has been keeping me company.
So instead of talking about myself and how extremely ill I am, I decided to talk about a few people that are incredibly inspiring, and not at all the type to wallow in self-pity. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave [wo]man.
First of all, I have to talk about Anthony Burgess, because he is blowing my mind right now. He is probably most well known for his fantastic A Clockwork Orange; an intimate portrayal adolescence, in which his oversexed and unloved narrator, Alex, grows out of his violent compulsions in spite of the brutality of the adults who try to reform him.
It’s really a good read, and I studied it for a project I did in my last year of College. It is incredibly frank and grossly detailed, which is refreshing and hard-hitting, and it uses a partially invented language of Burgess’ own creation. What I love most about the book is that there is very little translation of this language, and in reading the book you learn Alex’s new dialogue for yourself, becoming caught up in his world as you get into the habit of speaking as he does. I think this is incredibly effective and shows Burgess’ true skill as an author. He assumes that he is writing for an audience of intelligent readers* , and thus the reader feels challenged and engaged, and most of all, the narrative of the book comes across as completely genuine, despite the fantastical setting, as Burgess is telling the reader; you are an intelligent reader, you don’t need me to hold your hand.
*(My English teacher used to encourage us to be Intelligent Readers, explaining the value of reading curiously and reading contextually. T.S.Eliot, in his own way, writes to an intelligent reader in The Wasteland , but I always felt, from the way that he unsympathetically describes the people in his poem, that he actually assumes his audience are not intelligent readers and what he is in fact doing is criticizing them for this, using classical allusion to emphasise their lack of understanding. Don’t forget that Eliot was a young man when he wrote and his talent is already quite evident. When you imagine how estranged he may have felt from his peers, and how frustrated he would have been at their apparent slowness of thought and literary ignorance, it is easier to forgive him his cynicism.)
Recently, having not read any other Burgess books, I read MF. MF tells the story of Miles Faber, who travels across continents trying to escape. First from the control of his father’s estate, and then from the entirely more sinister pull of his own apparent destiny. Once again, it is a horribly graphic book, no detail is left undescribed, but I have to say that for me, that’s what really gives it an edge. It’s a book that you want to read because there’s no way of knowing what will happen next. Furthermore, Burgess has a fantastic writing style which is at once hilarious, flamboyant, and utterly believable. MF is now nestled comfortably on my bookshelf next to Franny and Zooey and I really can’t recommend Burgess enough, this is the most excited I have been about an author in a long time (that’s a lie, I got really excited about Evelyn Waugh two weeks ago, but I want to marry Anthony Burgess.)
Next, can we please, (briefly) talk about Paloma Faith.
Paloma Faith is a singer songwriter who I have always adored. She is genuinely a very talented artist, and her songs are amazing to sing along to, very loudly, in your bedroom.
Instead of telling you all about her and how much I love her, which I do, I’m going to let you get along with your day, and if you have time, I would highly recommend listening to her.
Tomorrow we will be talking about John Ellison and Emma Watson.
(If I haven’t shuffled off this mortal coil, of course.)