Anthony Burgess was an international man of letters. Like Kenneth Toomey, the protagonist of his novel Earthly Powers (1980), Burgess travelled the world looking for a home, experiencing different cultures all over the world. His novels are products of this international existence, from the jungle-bound comedy of The Malayan Trilogy (1956-1959), to the Soviet romp of Honey for the Bears (1963) and the complexities of European war in Napoleon Symphony (1974).
This exhibition seeks to explore Burgess’s cosmopolitanism, using rare artefacts from the archives of the Burgess Foundation that will help put into context the literary representations of the author’s world. Beginning with his formative years in Manchester, Burgess will be revealed as a writer that was intellectually preoccupied by geographic location and how it affects the development of the identity in exile. It will also depict the conflict between Burgess’s identity as a professional writer, and that of ‘The Writer as International Figure’, a personality that he cultivated on television chat shows and in the press.
The exhibition will be launched at 6pm-8pm on 16 May 2013, with a presentation by the curator, Graham Foster. This will discuss the concept behind the exhibition, and how Burgess can be viewed as part of a community of internationalist writers that includes Vladimir Nabokov, Umberto Eco and Somerset Maugham among others.
By Graham Foster.