When a well-known writer dies, there ensues either a period of mourning and exaggerated praise (see: Leigh Fermor, P.), or a silence like that which follows an outburst from the dock. Typically, this silence is a probationary interlude before the sentence of utter obscurity (see: Mailer, N.). Frequently, the silence is broken, and the jury fixed, by whispers of political and marital malfeasance (see: Bellow, S.). When the political deviation is considered especially offensive to decency, the whispering begins while the writer is still alive, in the way of dismemberments for treason (see: Naipaul, V.; Steiner, G.).

The birth of Anthony Burgess was one of the lesser upheavals of 1917. His death in 1993 inspired the critical equivalent of last orders, a cocktail of hurried tributes and foreshortened arguments. In The New York Times, Herbert Mitgang called...

 

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

Popular Right Now