As this week will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Anthony Burgess
, my favourite writer, I have decided to plug some of his work. Tonight, it is the epic novel Any Old Iron
. The old iron of the title and its driving narrative and thematic force is nothing else than the sword Excalibur
. If many of his epic works are Apocalyptic, this one is to a degree
genetic: it is about the birth and rise as much as the fall of
civilizations. You see a lot of them: Britain's dwindling empire, kick-started by the sinking of the Titanic, the end of Czarist Russia and the beginning of the Soviet Union, the turmoils of World War II and the (re)birth of Israel. As for Excalibur itself, it may only be, in the end, a piece of rusting metal. It is funny as a comedy, absurd like an existentialist novel, it is in so many ways a grand novel.
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