What a great idea to read both Burgess's books in consecutive order! I enjoyed them both, but clearly the more so for having read them back to back. It was like a deep immersion in Elizabethan England. If WS's character had been endearing to me, I deeply admired Burgess's development of Kit Marlowe as a champion of freedom and independent thinking in an age of fierce and stupid religious fighting. Clearly, one could reproach him his spying-for-money, but then again he didn't believe in any religion and he needed the money. Marlowe, of course, was far from an innocent guy. He was mischievous and cynical, but one has to admire him for never compromising his liberty of thought. Now, the darker aspect is that he seems to have sold his life to the spying network, which in the end provoked his death.
I loved Burgess's language. Although I had to resort to a dictionary frequently, the use of archaic words reinforced the transport to the Elizabethan age. Certainly, Marlowe's open homosexuality can be shocking (the scene when his parents catch him sleeping naked with Walsingham was embarrassing), but it is another piece of his defiance of established order. For behind the supposed rigidity of the age's mores, one can see a frewheeling era, a time of little restraint on one's appetites, and not much law-enforcing going on in the streets.
Just first thoughts on what I think are two excellent novels. Anyone else read them both?
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