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Title: The public personage as protagonist in the novels of Anthony Burgess
Author: Levings, Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 2669 1807
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2007
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When Anthony Burgess began writing novels that contained public personages as protagonists (Nothing Like the Sun, MF, Napoleon Symphony, ABBA ABBA, Earthly Powers, The End of the World News, Mozart and the Wolf Gang, A Dead Man in Deptford) in the latter half of the twentieth century, the challenge was to move away from (or re-manipulate) modernism but at the same time avoid a straightforward return to nineteenth-century (historical) realism. However, recognition and understanding of the way in which history is incorporated into the novel has changed dramatically over the last four decades. Burgess must now be read not only against earlier novelists, theorists and philosophers (particular examples being James Joyce, Roland Barthes and Kant), but also against a whole body of work by writers such as Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco, John Banville and Giinter Grass, as well as theorists such as Linda Hutcheon, Hayden White, Thomas M. Greene and, once again, Umberto Eco, to name but a few. For these writers have pushed the boundaries of how history is understood. In performing such a reading, the thesis does not seek to categorize Burgess but instead identify, for example, his construction of possible worlds, his insertion of purposeful and creative anachronisms, his use of all manner of unexpected tropes and imaginings; each of which breaks from realism in unusual ways in order to achieve a better sense of reality. Through this approach it is hoped that the reader will begin to understand the range contained within these novel histories centred on public personages, and also that Burgess is a twentieth-century reminder of the challenges to literature that are to be found in the portrayal of historical figures, an art that has a history as long as literature itself. Above all, at the core of the thesis is the belief that the works discussed are not biographies, but are fictional novels that contain public personages as protagonists and actual events. This is because of the ways in which they play with the flaws of language, and among many other things, expose the often two-dimensional nature of biography and theory when applied to the world. Although biography has become increasingly sensitized to these issues, fiction can play with them more freely and innovate more readily, and Burgess's novels are an illustration of this.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: P Language and Literature