El lenguaje prescindible…

Interviewer : «You also say that the younger generation is in the process of throwing away their heritage.»

Anthony Burgess : «I feel that is true. They’re taking a view of language which, I suppose, is significant of the age ; you know, that human contact should be more elemental. With the Permissive Age in which sex becomes a means of communication there is no need for language.

»Pop music, Rock music, is a genuine over-simplification of language. The appreciation of literature is dying out in our schools and we have a kind of system of government which extolls the utilitarian , the creation of things for sale rather than the pursuit of knowledge for it’s own sake. This is not a humanistic culture we’re living in and this is bound to diminish the value of language.»

En realidad el objeto de la entrevista era la beatífica relación que Burgess mantenía con la lengua inglesa. A propósito, me viene a la cabeza que la primera de las cinco reglas de P.D. James para escribir ficción dice lo siguiente:

Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it. [Negritas añadidas.]

No puede negarse que el ego idiomático de los novelistas británicos se encuentra en plena forma.

Anthony Burgess «contra» sus pares católicos

INTERVIEWER: This Catholic emphasis accounts in part for the frequent comparisons made between your novels and Evelyn Waugh’s, and yet you’ve said you don’t find Waugh’s aristocratic idea of Catholicism attractive. What do you like about his work?

BURGESS: Waugh is funny, Waugh is elegant, Waugh is economical. His Catholicism, which I despise as all cradle Catholics despise converts, is the thing in him which means least to me. Indeed, it injures his Sword of Honour.

INTERVIEWER: This charge has often been made—along with that of sentimentality—against Brideshead Revisited, but Sword of Honour is often called the best novel in English about World War II. How does Waugh’s (or Guy Crouchback’s) Catholicism weaken it?

BURGESS: Crouchback’s Catholicism weakens Sword of Honour in the sense that it sectarianizes the book—I mean, we have Crouchback’s moral view of the war, and this is not enough: We need something that lies beneath religion. In our age it’s a weakness to make Catholic theology the basis of a novel since it means everything’s cut and dried and the author doesn’t have to rethink things out. The weakness of Greene’s Heart of the Matter is derived from its author’s fascination with theology: the sufferings of the hero are theological sufferings, invalid outside the narrow field of Catholicism. When I taught Waugh and Greene to Muslim students in Malaya, they used to laugh. Why can’t this man have two wives if he wants them, they would say. What’s wrong with eating the bit of bread the priest gives you when you’ve been sleeping with a woman not your wife, and so on. They never laughed at the tragic heroes of the Greeks and Elizabethans*.

INTERVIEWER: Does the difference between cradle and convert Catholicism influence an author’s work in such an essential way that you tend to prefer a novelist like François Mauriac to Graham Greene?

BURGESS: English converts to Catholicism tend to be bemused by its glamor and even look for more glamor in it than is actually there—like Waugh, dreaming of an old English Catholic aristocracy, or Greene, fascinated by sin in a very cold-blooded way. I wished I liked Mauriac more as a writer. The fact is that I prefer the converted Catholics because they happen to be better novelists. I do try to forget that Greene is a Catholic when I read him. He, too, is now, I think, trying to forget. The Comedians was a kind of philosophical turning point. Travels with My Aunt is deliciously free of morality of any kind, except a very delightful kind of inverted morality.

*Es problema del lector, no del autor. En todo caso: Anthony Burgess, The Art of Fiction No. 48

La fuente

INTERVIEWER: Are works of art the products of strong libido?

BURGESS: Yes, I think art is sublimated libido. You can’t be a eunuch priest, and you can’t be a eunuch artist. I became interested in syphilis when I worked for a time at a mental hospital full of GPI cases. I discovered there was a correlation between the spirochete and mad talent. The tubercle also produces a lyrical drive. Keats had both.

Burgess como en Anthony Burgess.