We reveal a gruesome inspiration behind Anthony Burgess’s novel Earthly Powers: the Jonestown suicide cult leader Jim Jones. One of the pivotal events in Earthly Powers is the establishment and violent dissolution of Godfrey Manning’s religious cult, known as the ‘Children of God’. Although this cult seems to be well ingrained in the narrative of […]

In this edition of the podcast, Andrew Biswell and Graham Foster discuss Burgess’s experience of Rome, from his two novels Beard’s Roman Women and ABBA ABBA, to his engagement with Italian culture and the circle of artists and writers he associated with during his time living in the Eternal City.

ONE: He received a fan letter from Umberto Eco. They met when Burgess was living in Rome in the early 1970s. Eco, who worked as a radio producer, interviewed Burgess in connection with Joysprick, a book about the language of James Joyce. Later on, Burgess wrote favourable reviews of a number of Eco’s books, including The […]

Many items in the collections at the Anthony Burgess Foundation reveal Burgess’s connections with other writers. Some of these connections are unexpected, such as his long correspondences with Angela Carter and Shirley Conran, but some, such as his friendship with the Italian novelist and semiologist Umberto Eco, seem to make more sense. Burgess’s and Eco’s […]

Continuing from the last in the series of journalism, here Burgess reviews Umberto Eco’s most famous novel, The Name of the Rose. The novel, a murder mystery set in a Benedictine monastery in the year 1327. Eco’s protagonist, William of Baskerville, a Franciscan friar, is modeled on Sherlock Holmes, and undertakes an investigation into a […]

The next two pieces of journalism in this series will deal with Umberto Eco. Burgess and Eco were friends for many years, exchanging ideas about literature during Burgess’s time living in Italy. He was a great admirer of Eco’s work and reviewed him frequently in various different places, often returning to The Name of the […]