Friday, 13 May 2011

The Mechanics Of Writing

By Richard Jay Parker

It was announced today that a substantial volume of work by Anthony Burgess has been discovered in his private archives. The work includes short stories, music and scripts as well as unpublished books.

A Clockwork Orange has remained one of my favourite books since I read it as a teen. I know Kubrick purists will want to drag me over the coals but I also think that it’s the director’s best work. Book and movie are two entirely different experiences. The subtext of the story is paid off in the book and not in the movie. The book has an upbeat interpretation of the title whereas the movie has a nihilistic finale. Kubrick wrote the screenplay but one of the finds is the script that Burgess wrote for him that was ultimately rejected.

It already looks likely that the short stories will be published in a single volume. Many of the stories are dark or bordering on horror. Not really what Burgess was renowned for. The previously unpublished stories will now be viewed as an insight into his development as a writer.

I expect his script of A Clockwork Orange will also find a readership. I imagine him dropping it into a drawer in frustration and believing he wasted his time.

I wonder what he would make of today’s announcement? How he would react to the perception of his considerable body of rejected work changing so dramatically that it was suddenly causing a buzz in the publishing world.

The one thing writers can learn from this is to have a reliable filing system! The plaudits may be posthumous but it goes to show that putting away unwanted material is sometimes the equivalent of storing a bottle of wine.

Maybe his definition of A Clockwork Orange is appropriate here. Everything has a natural/mechanical cycle no matter what changes occur or how long it takes for it to be realised.

No comments:

Post a Comment