Novelizing Novelists

Thrice-rendered Enderby slenderly lives again. In the 1974  novel, The Clockwork Testament, Anthony Burgess dispatched to eternity his gross, grotty, gastric poet; New York City slaughtered the luckless English bard with a heart attack. But here he is again in Enderby's Dark Lady. "I think we have to look at it this way," Burgess says. "All fictional events are hypotheses, and the condition of End­erby's going to New York would be that he should die there. If the hypothesis is unfulfilled, he does not have to die."

In other words, the wildly self­-absorbed Dickensian character who first appeared some 20 years ago has shrunk to the level of a pretext.  Bur­gess has discovered additional targets for satire. Why not dig up Enderby, set him to writing the libretto "for a ridic­ulous musical about Shakespeare in a fictitious theater in Indianapolis"? Not a bad idea, at first glance. Enderby has lost nothing of his talent for dyspeptic observation and bilious remark. Here are his impressions of a Midwestern patroness of the arts:

He! knew that Mr. Schoenbaum was dead from making money. Mrs. Schoenbaum was clearly en­joying her widowhood. She wore a kind of harem dress of silk trousers and brocaded sort of cutdown caftan. Her silver hair was frozen into a photographed stormtossed effect, clicked into sempiternal tempestuousness on a Wuthering Heights...

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