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Little Wilson and Big God: The First Part of the Confession

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  230 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
The first volume of the two-volume autobiography.

In an extraordinarily candid book of confessions, Anthony Burgess tells the story of a disaffected Manchester Catholic from his birth in 1917 up to 1959 and the commencement of his career as a professional writer. He details his burgeoning awareness of his artistic talent, his relationship with his first wife, his army caree
Paperback, 460 pages
Published April 28th 1991 by Grove/Atlantic (first published 1987)
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Jan 27, 2014 Nigeyb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary autobiography.

Prior to reading this, the only other book I'd read by Anthony Burgess was "A Clockwork Orange". I was inspired to read this book, having come across a short extract, photocopied and framed on the wall of The Wheatsheaf pub in Rathbone Place, London. Anthony Burgess was once a customer and he was describing the era in the 1940s when both he and Julian Maclaren-Ross were regulars. As a great admirer of Julian Maclaren-Ross, it was a desire to read this particular s
Dan Shorer
Jul 28, 2012 Dan Shorer rated it it was ok
Burgess is very much out of fashion these days, on the logical grounds that he was something of a serenely and mildly racist, sexist, homophobic imperialist of the cheerful and well-meaning variety. He comes across much more stubbornly Catholic and conservative than his prodigious philandering would lead you to believe, and has a few casually deplorable things to say about women and brown people. Despite his obvious mental gifts, he is frequently forced to fall back on pleas of laziness or perse ...more
Jan 17, 2012 Alan rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
(1988 notebook): just finished LW&BG, Burgess's half life story - fascinated by his wife Lynne and would have liked more on her. His life seems a little too easy despite the experiences in Gibraltar and Malaya. Here is a man who can write a novel in six weeks, can pick up languages in days, and compose symphonies in his spare time, most of which he devotes to getting drunk and getting laid, in that order.
Just jealous I suppose.
Ryan Williams
Sep 11, 2016 Ryan Williams rated it liked it
Burgess wrote two volumes of memoirs; this book covers his first forty two years. Though nearly twice the size of the second book, You've Had Your Time, it's half as interesting.

It gives a rather different account of a young English writer's maturity than most books of its type. Burgess was born in Manchester, not in the Home Counties; he did not go to one of 'great universities'. He was reared among pubs, chop-shops and off-licences, and called 'mard-arse' at school. He didn't seem to let up o
May 04, 2014 Liz rated it liked it
Great for linguists and musicians as Burgess goes into the minutiae of both subjects. Also great if you don't mind the reminiscences of an aged man reviewing his sexual history/escapades. Having said this, I enjoyed much of the book. The struggle with lapsed Catholicism, the pictures painted of prewar Manchester and life for colonials in Malaya as well as the literary circles of London were spellbinding. I have not read any of Burgesses novels, and I don't think that I want to. I didn't know wha ...more
May 11, 2016 Neale rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
‘Little Wilson & Big God’ is a marvellous book - marvels are not to be trusted, of course. The fact that Burgess may or may not be blagging much of the time is part of the book's appeal: a great writer of fiction is turning his tools on the raw material of his own life and fashioning it into a kind of magic lantern show. In his works of fiction, Burgess’s invention occasionally waned – when talking about himself he is never at a loss. The language is evocative, exuberant and delights in obsc ...more
Drew Raley
May 16, 2014 Drew Raley rated it it was amazing
An entirely self-serving masterpiece of autoreportage, in which its author/subject paints an absolutely absorbing picture of pre- and postwar Britain. His account of interwar Manchester conveys the sights and smells of a place long-extinguished. He contextualizes his eccentricities, laying bare the roots of his flaws in this book, whereupon the vast difficult personality evidenced in the rest of his ouvre is limned. The writing and recollection are unparalelled.
James Raynes
Apr 01, 2013 James Raynes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recently finished this, and I enjoyed it immensely. Anthony Burgess was a renowned BS artist so certain passages have to be taken with a grain of salt, but it can't be denied he had an extraordinary life, and he describes it in these pages with a trademark mix of surprising filth and intimidating vocabulary.
Feb 02, 2009 Academama rated it did not like it
Shelves: 9-9-9, dissertation
I expected to love this; however, it's incredibly boring! I love autobiography and lit bio, but this is NOT my kind of thing, I guess.

There's a second volume, more's the pity (also on my 999 list).
Donal Brady
Aug 01, 2013 Donal Brady rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, outstanding, enraging, horrifying. I really enjoyed this book. Very honest and open account.
Chris Shaffer
Apr 11, 2010 Chris Shaffer is currently reading it
Being a Catholic in pre war England was no peice of cake. Learning about Burgess' upbringing brings light and life to his prose.
Andrew Stewart
Jan 17, 2016 Andrew Stewart rated it really liked it
I'm fascinated by the lives of people as driven as Burgess. This is his version of his life. It might not all be accurate.
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May 26, 2015
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Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days o ...more
More about Anthony Burgess...

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