Ninety-Nine Novels: Pavane by Keith Roberts
In 1984, Anthony Burgess published Ninety-Nine Novels, a selection of his favourite novels in English since 1939. The list is typically idiosyncratic, and shows the breadth of Burgess’s interest in fiction. This podcast, by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, explores the novels on Burgess’s list with the help of writers, critics and other special guests.
In this episode, we’re heading to an alternate universe as writer, academic and curator Glyn Morgan guides the Burgess Foundation’s Graham Foster through Pavane by Keith Roberts.
Published in 1968, Pavane is set in a Great Britain ruled by the Catholic Church after the assassination of Elizabeth I. The story picks up in the twentieth century, and follows a disparate group of characters as they navigate a world on the cusp of rebellion. Burgess lauds the depiction of a ‘modern England that is also medieval’ and calls the novel ‘a striking work of the imagination’.
Keith Roberts was born in Kettering in 1935. He wrote thirteen novels, including The Furies, The Chalk Giants and Molly Zero. He was also an illustrator and worked on the artwork for New Worlds and Impulse magazines. He died in 2000 at the age of 65.
Glyn Morgan is a writer, academic and curator based in London. He is the author of Imagining the Unimaginable: Speculative Fiction and the Holocaust (Bloomsbury) and curator of the forthcoming blockbuster immersive exhibition Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination, which opens at the Science Museum in London on 6 October 2022 and runs until 4 May 2023. Glyn has also edited a new volume of essays, interviews and 200 colour illustrations to accompany the exhibition (Thames and Hudson).
Books mentioned in this episode
By Keith Roberts:
- The Chalk Giants (1974)
- The History of the Universal Monarchy: Napoleon and the Conquest of the World by Louis Geoffroy (1836)
- Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp (1939)
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
- Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore (1953)
- A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr (1959)
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
- The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (1962)
- The Alteration by Kinglsey Amis (1976)
- Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (1980)
- Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (1996)
- The Loney by Andrew Micheal Hurley (2014)
- A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar (2014)
- Science Fiction and Catholicism: The Rise and Fall of the Robot Papacy by Jim Clarke (2019)
In Series One of Ninety-Nine Novels, we learnt about authors including James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Naipaul and Alan Sillitoe, among others. These episodes are available at your favourite place to get podcasts.
You can join the conversation and tell us which 100th book you would add to Burgess’s list by using the hashtag #99Novels on Twitter.
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The theme music for the Ninety-Nine Novels podcast is Anthony Burgess’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Piano in D Minor, performed by No Dice Collective.