The Right To An Answer was published on 23 May. The Times Literary Supplement reviewed it pompously: 'The tone of the book is comic, with some initial over-writing, but it takes a turn towards violence at the end. The likeliest scenes are in the local pub, but the Midlands town as seen by one who has become an outsider is sharply described. The reader, though, may well wonder whether the experiences recounted add up to anything of much importance.' The Spectator said 'Not the best of Burgess's books ...'; Punch said 'I do not quite understand why everybody refers to Mr Burgess as a funny man ...'.
Burgess dolefully recounts these negative remarks in the second volume of his autobiography, You've Had Your Time (1990).
The first of Burgess's novels using another pseudonym, Joseph Kell, was published as One Hand Clapping. Dismissed by the author as ' a jeu dashed off to make a hundred pounds or so', it apparently had 'a late success in Eastern Europe': 'It was regarded as a condemnation of moneymaking, a debased culture, the whole capitalist Western life, than to endure which it would be better to be dead. It was read in East Germany. It was one of the two books for which I was known in the Soviet bloc. Needless to say, what money it has earned there remains sequestered.' You've Had Your Time (1990)
The Worm and the Ring was published on 25 May. A number of characters in it were based heavily on Burgess's experiences teaching at Banbury Grammar School, and he found himself accused of libel by Gwen Bustin, the school secretary during Burgess's time there. The publishers Heinemann eventually settled out of court, but the book was pulped. It was later revised, though not by Burgess, to remove the offending passages, and an expurgated edition appeared in 1970.
Devil of a State, a satire of colonial excess based on Burgess's experiences in Brunei, was published on 30 October. Reviews were mixed, but the Spectator said that 'Mr Burgess makes these people not only horrofyingly credible and brilliantly appalling, but also symptomatic of the collapse of the tradition they are hopelessly trying to prop up. His venom is sprayed with the accuracy of machine-gun bullets on exploiter and exploited alike'.
By the end of 1961 Burgess had published seven novels and a history of English literature, as well as many reviews and articles.
A Clockwork Orange was published on 14 May. While it sold modestly on its appearance, this disturbing, powerful and hugely imaginative novel gathered an underground following and became a global phenomenon after the release of Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film.
'Clockwork Oranges don't exist, except in the speech of old Londoners. The image was a bizarre one, always used for a bizarre thing. 'He's as queer as a clockwork orange' meant he was queer to the limit of queerness ... Europeans who translated the title as Arancia a Orologeria or Orange Méchanique could not understand its Cockney resonance and they assumed that it meant a hand grenade, a cheaper kind of explosive pineapple. I mean it to stand for the the application of a mechanistic morality to a living organism oozing ith juice and sweetness. [...] Eat this sweetish segment or spit it out. You are free.' - Anthony Burgess, 'A Clockwork Orange Resucked', 1986
The Wanting Seed, a dystopian novel about overpopulation and the horror of war, appeared on 1 October. Burgess was unhappy with the book, saying that 'it needed to be longer in the oven ... but I needed money'; though later complained that 'Harry Harrison, on his own confession during the downing of a bottle of scotch in my New York flat, stole the ending for the film of his [novel] No Room! No Room!, called Soylent Green.' (You've Had Your Time, 1990).
Honey For The Bears, a novel based on a trip to Leningrad undertaken by Lynne and Burgess, was published in March. It was well received by critics, and Kingsley Amis described it as 'a triumph ... There are so few genuninely entertaining novels around that we ought to cheer when one turns up. Continuous, fizzing energy...'
Burgess published a second novel under the name Joseph Kell, Inside Mister Enderby, in April. Burgess reviewed his own novel in equivocal terms in the Yorkshire Post on 16 May: ‘This is, in many ways, a dirty book. It is full of bowel-blasts and flatulent borborygms, emetic meals (‘thin but over-savoury stews’, Enderby calls them) and halitosis. It may well make some people sick, and those with tender stomachs are advised to let it alone. It turns sex, religion, the State into a series of laughing-stocks. The book itself is a laughing-stock.’
Burgess’ attempted practical joke of unfavourably reviewing his own work was sadly unsuccessful. Summarily dismissed from his position at the Yorkshire Post, he gained temporary fame as a literary villain. ‘I was even invited to sit at the high table of a Foyle’s literary luncheon and wondered if this would be a kind of pillory and I a target for bread rolls. Ah well, Daniel Defoe had been in the pillory too.’ (Anthony Burgess, You’ve Had Your Time, 1990)
Nothing Like The Sun, a fictional biography of William Shakespeare, appeared in April. The title come from Shakespeare's sonnet 130:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red ;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
Rival gangs of youths, Mods and Rockers, fought each other in a number of holiday resorts on the south coast of England, sparking a moral panic. Burgess's treatment of gang violence in A Clockwork Orange was based in part on the rise of a new, more violent youth culture.
Burgess published a critical study of James Joyce, Here Comes Everybody, in September. This was a lively 'introduction for the ordinary reader', of which Burgess said 'my book does not pretend to scholarship, only to a desire to help the average reader who wants to know Joyce's work but has been scared off by the professors. The appearance of difficulty is part of Joyce's big joke; the profundities are always expressed in good round Dublin terms; Joyce's heroes are humble men.'
Burgess's first completed novel, based on his wartime experiences in Gibraltar and illustrated by Edward Pagram was eventually published as Vision of Battlements.
Tremor of Intent, partly a satire of Ian Fleming's James Bond, partly a meditation on guilt and Catholicism, appeared in June. Burgess later attempted to turn the novel into a screenplay for the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, but his script was rejected.
A second book on Joyce appeared, A Shorter Finnegan's Wake. Burgess 'cut down Joyce's masterpiece to its bare essentials and provided a sort of waking commentary, as well as a long and enlightening introduction. He hopes that readers of this small labour of love will be tempted to proceed to the whole big uncut book and learn to revel in its humour and homely profundity.' (Book jacket, 1966)
Lynne died of liver failure on 20 March, aged 47.
Liana Macellari and Burgess were married on 9 September, and moved to Malta with Paulo Andrea, Liana's son, in November.