(The) Burgess-Kubrick Squib

3

March 11, 2017 by AK

In Prospect Magazine, Kevin Jackson writes that Stanley Kubrick’s “slick and meretricious film” was an “ambiguous triumph” for Anthony Burgess…

…since he regarded the book, most of which he had dashed off in three weeks, as a squib.

It’s not clear to me whether Jackson put “squib” to mean a witty tour de force – a brilliant lampoon – or a dud: a firework that failed to go off, a “damp squib.” Probably both: a quick success on one level and a lasting failure on another.


3 comments »

  1. Tim Newman says:

    I thought the book was quite good. I read it as a teenager, long before I realized that most of the slang was in fact Russian.

    • AK says:

      Burgess didn’t expect (most of) his readers to recognize and understand the slang at once, did he?

      The slang is a challenge to Russian translators. I know of two versions: one uses Russian words in the Latin script, but not Burgess’ original slang; the other goes for English terms in a Russian transliteration. Either way, the reader understands their meaning much earlier that Burgess probably intended.

  2. Tim Newman says:

    Burgess didn’t expect (most of) his readers to recognize and understand the slang at once, did he?

    I don’t think so, no. It took me a while, and I read a copy without a glossary. I saw a documentary on him once and it said he’d learned Russian for a while either in school or university.

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