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Celebrating 40 years of Earthly Powers

Earthly Powers Wiki An in-depth reader’s guide to Anthony Burgess’s 1980 panoramic saga

Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess

The Earthly Powers Wiki site is a collaborative annotation project for the novel Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess. It is moderated by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, and aims to create an extensive reader’s guide that highlights references, interesting facts, definitions and etymology of odd usage, and the connections to the work of Burgess and others. Start reading the Wiki here.

Earthly Powers first editionAbout Earthly Powers

Earthly Powers is Anthony Burgess’s supreme achievement as a novelist. An enthralling, epic narrative that spans six decades of history, that spotlights some of the most vivid events and characters of the twentieth century, it is a novel about the nature and origins of evil.

As told by the central character himself, a distinguished British writer in his eighties, Earthly Powers is the life story of Kenneth Marchal Toomey – from the First World War to the final years of sun-drenched idleness in Malta. [Continue reading here.]

How to Use the Earthly Powers Wiki

The primary use for this wiki is as a reader’s guide to the many references, literary connections and other ephemera in Earthly Powers. Each chapter has its own page on which the references are listed by page number and line number in the UK first edition (Hutchinson, 1980). This is the same typesetting as the current paperback (Vintage, 2004). You can contribute to this project by editing these pages directly — start here.


Chapter 1 summary: Kenneth Toomey is introduced on the morning of his 81st birthday. His domestic life with his secretary Geoffrey Enright is described. He is visited by the Archbishop of Malta. [See more on Chapter 1 here]

Chapter 2 summary: The Archbishop informs Toomey that his brother-in-law, Don Carlo Campanati, is to be canonised. [See more on Chapter 2 here]

Chapter 3 summary: Toomey and Geoffrey walk around the garden, where Geoffrey informs Toomey there is to be a dinner in his honour hosted by the British Council. [See more on Chapter 3 here]

Chapter 4 summary: Toomey retires to his study. He talks to his servant, Ali, about God, and remembers his brother Tommy. [See more on Chapter 4 here]

See further chapters on the Anthony Burgess Wiki pages.

Read more on the Earthly Powers Wiki pages >

Celebrating 40 years of Earthly Powers