• OBSCENITY & THE ARTS •

Author: Anthony Burgess
Concept & Publication: PARIAH PRESS
Contributors:
Germaine Greer
Andrew Biswell
Marie Said
Adam Griffiths
Cover Design: Adam Griffiths

Publication Date: Summer 2018
Format: Paperback (A) Perfect Bound
Printing: Offset Lithograph
Category: Biography, Criticism

ISBN: 9780993037863

Exclusive pariahpress.com offer:
Limited edition of 200 copies signed
by Andrew Biswell, and hand stamped
[RRP £10.99]…

In stock

£8.99

It is evident that one cannot always win.

SKU: PP#6. Category: .

~ • Synopsis • ~

Obscenity & the Arts is the first new work from Anthony Burgess in over twenty years. The story of his struggle with censorship, religious conservatism and a vengeful government on the island of Malta between 1968 & 1974 has never been told before.

Renowned authors Germaine Greer (The Female Eunuch and The Whole Woman) and Andrew Biswell (The Real Life of Anthony Burgess) provide newly commissioned essays on the wider themes provoked by Burgess’s difficulties in Malta – which still resonate today: how to define and discern obscenity and pornography, and the recurring problem of state censorship. The fulcrum of the work is a full transcript of Burgess’s lecture at the University of Malta in 1970 – made available here to an international readership for the first time. The book also incorporates previously unseen archive documentation and photography (including images taken by the author himself) which emphasise Burgess’s extraordinary term in Lija.

Announcement trailer for Obscenity & The Arts.

 


~ • Praise For Obscenity & the Arts • ~

“This is an excellent and significant book. It documents Anthony Burgess’s anti-censorship protest back in 1970 against the Maltese authorities’ ban on importing books which ludicrously caught titles such as Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape and Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. It may seem to us now like some Lilliputian struggle from another age in which a much-esteemed novelist is punished by exile. But it was an echo of a much larger struggle that had taken place in Britain only a few years before.”
Alan Travis – home affairs editor, The Guardian
                        and author of Bound & Gagged: A Secret History of Obscenity in Britain

“Coming from a country which in the past suffered under a system of censorship that was at once pernicious, crippling and absurd, I welcome this fascinating account of a little-known but fascinating passage in the life of one of the finest English writers of the twentieth century. Anthony Burgess was an unremitting defender of artistic freedom, as Obscenity & the Arts amply attests.”
John Banville – author of The Sea and The Untouchable

“A vivid reminder of the liveliness of Anthony Burgess’s brain and his confrontational refusal to accept any kind of suppression or censorship.”
Desmond Morris – author of The Naked Ape and The Soccer Tribe

“For a time in the 70s Anthony B. bestrode our world like the colossus he was – in real life, in fiction, in drinking, in courage and in his endless capacity to love and laugh. I once spent a mad week in Rome with him during which we were subjected to the whims of a television producer called Augustus Montilardi, or similar, who kept saying: “my mother is dying from cancer, but she is very noble.” Theoretically we were there to discuss the utter pretentiousness of most popular culture, a subject about which Anthony & I felt (in the early 70s) increasingly strongly. “They told me I was going to the Italian Riviera.” Anthony kept muttering. Each participant was given a large ear piece which refused to stay in place but which would, each of us were assured, give us an instantaneous translation of anything which the Italian members of the discussion panel might say. The Anglo-Saxon community, as Anthony & I were referred to, comprised three Celts, two Russian Jews, one Italian American, one German émigré, and someone from Clacton. As far as we were aware, there were no Italian members of the discussion panel. In the rehearsal, we were each asked to say something to make sure we were working. One of the Russian Jews (to whom none of us had been introduced) began reading a prepared manifesto on behalf of all Russian Jews who wished to emigrate from the Soviet Union, whereupon the floor manager yelled ‘silenzio‘ and told us there would now be a “fiesta break.” The actual recording started three hours later, and although everyone spoke in English, comprehension was reduced to a minimum because all the instantaneous translations were deafening and, what’s more, in Italian. “I was promised the Italian Riviera,” muttered Anthony, while Montilardio’s secretary told me it had been difficult to organise a car to take us back to the airport because her father had died recently. I tell this story because only Anthony among the great writers of his time had the wit, the intelligence and the humanity to recognise the absurdist folly of most television and particularly of all such discussions, especially about the young, or ‘youff’ as it was called. There was once a BBC Tsar for ‘youff’, Anthony loved to recall; some person called Street-something or some such. Anthony carried with him a BBC Press release describing her recent appointment which said: “I have new idea for a programme,” she was quoted a saying. “Actually, it’s a soap, a classical opera in soap-sized chunks, which has a vampire seducing three virgins within twenty-four hours, so it’s got a lot going for it and it’s incredibly evil. We’re updating it to work in central London, so instead of noblemen and peasants it’s going to be about businessmen and secretaries.” “Youth thinks itself wise,” Anthony said sadly, “just as drunks think themselves sober.” What a wise and lovely and courageous man he was, and how much his wisdom is missed. It took a great film maker, Kubrick, to remind us in A Clockwork Orange just how wise he was, because I’m not too sure we celebrated it as we should have done at the time.”
Tony Palmer – director of All My Loving and Bird on a Wire, author of The Trials of Oz

“This is a pleasing stuffat, as they may or may not say on Malta. Burgess was nothing if not dependable – dependably brilliant, dependably self-mythologising, dependably sorry for himself… As ever the genius and the charlatan are so interlinked that you don’t know which is the host and which is the parasite. Not that it matters. He was, is, and always will be the greatest English writer of the second half of the twentieth century. This is a useful and stimulating addition to the oeuvre, and timely given the hypersensitivity of every group to criticism from without.”
Jonathan Meades – author of Museum Without Walls, An Encyclopedia of Myself
and writer-presenter of Ben Building: Mussolini, Monuments and Modernism

“There has always been a vocal minority that knows how the rest of us should live, what we should see, read and think. Its barks often rally a pack that makes it hard to hear voices against it. In Anthony Burgess the twentieth century had a strong answering voice, and this new work is its backstage pass. It couldn’t be more timely, read it now – those barks are on the rise again.”
DBC Pierre – author of Vernon God Little and Release the Bats

“In an age when freedom of expression is under grave threat, if not from the State then from fear engendered by social media pressure groups, this book, featuring Burgess’s trenchant opposition to censorship, is timely and important. Writers should never surrender!”
D.M. Thomas – author of The White Hotel and the Russian Nights tetralogy

“Anthony Burgess had a very sane view of sex in literature. He believed that censorship was an evil. He knew that sometimes people looking for excitement might find literature. He approved of all kinds of excitement. When I met him and Liana they were madly in love. And probably madly in lust. They both seemed so alive. This is always inspiring! Anthony knew that every human culture had celebrated Eros. He understood that our contemporary erotic lives were stunted. He totally surprised me by understanding Eros in my work better than any other writer. He wrote an essay on Fanny: Being the True Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones that absolutely delighted me. I miss him and his wonderful work. I recommend Nothing like the Sun to everyone I know. He committed the ultimate novel about Shakespeare and he very much inspired my Serenissima — A novel in which I imagine that Shakespeare visited Venice during the plague year. He has left us a great treasury of wonderful books.”
Erica Jong – author of Fear of Flying and The Devil at Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller

“Burgess seems to have been physically incapable of writing a dull sentence, no matter how unpromising his subject, and his brief but impassioned account of the obscene and the pornographic continues to instruct and delight. Liberally coated with the fruits of Burgess’s vast reading – he refers, among others, to Swift, Shakespeare, Dante, Sartre and Celine – it is also charmingly idiosyncratic. Which other English author would reach for the term ‘enharmonic chord’ to clarify his drift? Hats off to Pariah for bringing this treat back into print.”
Kevin Jackson – author of Constellation of Genius: 1922 – Modernism Year One
                            and editor of Schrader on Schrader

“The story of Anthony Burgess’s censorship tribulations in Malta is a powerful tale that needs to be told, and this book tells it brilliantly. In a world of electronic communication, where new forms of Wiki-censorship hide behind such labels as ‘moderating’, his reflections on the semantics of obscenity and pornography make his message as relevant now as it ever was.”
David Crystal – author of By Hook or By Crook: A Journey in Search of English
                            and The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation

“Anthony Burgess, a lifelong member of the awkward squad, is well served by Pariah Press’s edition of Obscenity & the Arts, his 1970 lecture on obscenity delivered in censorious Malta. It is framed by an interesting essay on the cultural context by his biographer, Professor Andrew Biswell, and a lively critique by Dr Germaine Greer, herself involved in counter-cultural debates on pornography around the same time. Some poignant photographs and the author’s handwritten score for a fiery piano piece add flavour to a book which no devotee of Burgess should miss.”
Nicholas Rankin – author of Defending the Rock: How Gibraltar Defeated Hitler
and former chief producer at BBC World Service

“A must-read. Burgess provocatively, questionably and contradictorily engages with issues of censorship and definitions of obscenity and pornography, while Germaine Greer’s argumentative and informed counterpoint provides a retrospective and wider frame for his argument. The outcome is a challenging debate on a time delay, across locations and gender perspectives, on a topic that still kindles controversy.”
Carla Sassi – author of The International Companion to Scottish Poetry and consulting editor for the International Literature Quarterly

“In 1970, author and composer Anthony Burgess mounted an impassioned case against censorship two years after forty-three books from his personal collection were burned by the Maltese government. His speech to the Malta Library Association displays humor, grit, and all the erudition we’ve come to expect from Manchester’s most notable polymath.”
Christine Lee Gengaro – author of Listening to Stanley Kubrick and Experiencing: Chopin

“This book may contain material that will cause upset and offence to some people. Good. Some people need to be upset and offended. In an age when trigger warnings and no-platforming are in danger of becoming the norm, we need books like this as reminders of why hard won freedom of speech is essential to a free society. Along with the excellent contextualising essays by Biswell and Greer, Burgess gives us a clear reminder as to why the censorship of art is always wrong, and every arts and humanities tutor in our universities should place this on their students’ core reading list.”
Michael Paraskos – author of Rabbitman and In Search of Sixpence

“Pariah’s rescue of Anthony Burgess’s Malta speech is a timely excavation of social and literary history, a perfect opportunity to encounter or reencounter Burgess’s splendid provocations, and an elegant piece of publishing in itself. It is also a reminder of how certain battles persist, and how we’d best remain bold and irritated enough to win them.”
Jonathan Lethem – author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude

“This book proves, once again, what we already know: there’s no end to Anthony Burgess. Lucky us, he keeps coming back. Obscenity & the Arts reads and delights as some sort of non-fictional out-take/bonus track to his autobiographies and, in a very playful yet serious way, to his masterpiece (one of many): Earthly Powers. Here, again, the odyssey of an Artist with a capital A surrounded and besieged by many lowercase fools. Malta was not a moveable feast for Burgess but, in these pages, becomes a frantic celebration for his followers and fans. In the end, Burgess leaves the scene of the crime and trial but his life and work justly, and victoriously, remain. Obscenity & the Arts is also especially enlightening in this new puritanical dark age of supposed tech-liberation – yet ultimately clockwork-controlling-Ludovico-censoring irreal reality.”
Rodrigo Fresán – author of The Invented Part and The Bottom of the Sky

“As a citizen of what was once a Soviet-bloc country (Hungary, that is) where state censorship was rendered superfluous by self-censorship, I used to find solace in surreptitiously reading Anthony Burgess’s wonderfully outspoken novels. As a member of a largely Westernised academic community in East-Central Europe, I still look to the same works for hope and encouragement. That Obscenity & the Arts has seen print after lying dormant for decades holds out the promise that freedom of speech may yet be more than a mirage in a world that never was and never will be.”
Ákos István Farkas – author of Will’s Son and Jake’s Peer and The Magyar Tigris

“This is a fascinating book with real literary and historical impact. Accompanied by new images of the writer and his family in Malta and thoughtful critical contributions from Andrew Biswell and Germaine Greer, this publication illuminates the circumstances of an intellectual conflict in a particular time and place, but provides important context to the wider issue of literary censorship in the twentieth century. We are struck once again with the eloquence of Burgess’s rhetoric, the imagination of his arguments, and his skilful blend of moral and logical justification for artistic freedom. In 1993 the world lost a fine mind and pen, but this welcome coda serves to remind us of the treasures Anthony Burgess bequeathed to us. ”
Simon Rennie – author of Little Machines
                             and The Poetry of Earnest Jones: Myth, Song and the ‘Mighty Mind’

“What a splendid and elegant edition so rich in content, a huge book in fact, with so much to reflect upon. A timeless lesson in aesthetics.”
Aridea Fezzi Price – Il Giornale

 

 


~ • Trade • ~

All trade and bulk orders for this title should be directed to –
Jonny Walsh at pariah@pariahpress.com