Burgess reviewing Burgess. His short analysis does not explain how the language of the poems functions, but it does name T.S. Eliot, Tennyson and Gerard Manley Hopkins as key influences for the work.
The fictional poet F.X. Enderby remains a core connection between Burgess’s novels and poetry. All the way through the four Enderby novels (published in 1963, 1968, 1974 and 1984), Burgess’s poetry is described as written by the eponymous poet.This raises a question about authorship that has only been tackled in passing by a few critics of Burgess’s poetry, and remains unresolved. In a 2003 article, the French writer and critic Sylvère Monod – who edited a short selection of poems for the journal TREMA in 1980 – points out that Burgess was a poet in his own right, and one with an already long poetic career by 1980. While he admits to initially overlooking the Enderby/Burgess authorship issue, Monod focuses his attention on exploring the Enderby poems simply as plot devices in the novels. However, the discipline and linguistic inventiveness of the poetry suggests it is more than just functional plot-matter. As Kevin Jackson puts it in his foreword to Revolutionary Sonnets (2002), ‘a man who set scant if any store by verses he had composed more than thirty years earlier would hardly have troubled to embed them so prominently’. In a foreword to the essay collection Anthony Burgess and Modernism (2008), David Lodge tackles the identity problem by simply focusing on Enderby as the author. Viewing Enderby as a modernist poet, Lodge compares Enderby to William Empson or Edward Thomas. Lodge and Monod, then, provide some brief commentary on Burgess’s Enderby poems, but do not fully define the relationship between Enderby and Burgess.
Laurette Véza – also writing in TREMA in 1980 – explores how Burgess’s influences are frequently echoed in the Enderby poems. Unlike Monod,Véza seems to separate Burgess from Enderby. She describes Burgess as a formalist poet who loves words, not emotion, praising the word play and clarity of the Enderby poems. In exploring this relationship between allusion and lucidity, she highlights