Flame into Being: The Life and Work of D.H. Lawrence
First published in 1985, this hugely entertaining portrait of Lawrence - the writer and the man, long unavailable, will be gladly received back into the literary fold. There is never a dull moment in this incisive biography, but Burgess was incapable of being dull. Instead he makes the case most eloquently and convincingly that Lawrence is one of the very greatest of English writers.
It was a long journey: “Between his death and the outbreak of the Second World War Lawrence was remembered as a doubtful prophet but almost totally ignored as a writer. He had written a dirty book and had his exhibition of dirty paintings raided by the police; the brilliance of Sons and Lovers and Women in Love had either not been acknowledged or had been occluded”.
Flame into Being examines Lawrence’s work in its entirety, not just the well-known novels, and how, in the years following the 2nd World War, he gained recognition as one of the 20th century’s most original and outstanding authors.
“ Stimulating , entertaining and readable ... shrewd, sensible and witty” said the Spectator, when the book was first published.
Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader
“My book does not pretend to scholarship, only to a desire to help the average reader who sees all his works available in paperback and is scared more of their content then their price. The appearance of difficulty is part of Joyce’s big joke; the profundities are usually expressed in good round Dublin terms; Joyce’s heroes are humble men. If there was ever a writer for the people, Joyce was that writer. But there is a need for the kind of pilot-commentary I attempt to provide. After nearly fifty years of reading Joyce it seems only right that I should pass on what I have learned of his methods to those who come fresh to his riches.”
The above extract is from Burgess's foreword to the book, which establishes the purpose and the tone of his study. Vigorous, humorous and perceptive, his commentary is an excellent introduction and a valuable companion to the reading of Joyce.
The “Here Comes Everybody” in the title has its origin in Finnegans Wake, whose hero, Humphrey Chimden Earwicker, has his initials weaved into the text. But Burgess also hopes that everybody will come to Joyce, “seeing in him not tortuous puzzles, obscenity and jesuitry gone mad, but one of the largest affirmations of man’s worth that this century has given us”.
Philip Toynbee, in the Observer: “Mr Burgess has written a brilliant and humane study of the most brilliant and humane of twentieth century novelists.”