Burgess fabulism (instance no. 144)

I was interested to read this letter to the Times of Malta from Paul Xuereb, librarian at the Royal University of Malta (as it then was) at the time, about Burgess’s lecture, delivered in the science lecture theatre of the university. (Many thanks to Matthew Asprey, author of the ‘Honey for the Bears’ Burgess-related blog, for the link.)

Burgess says: ‘I threw my lecture…into a large silence.’ He claims the lecture was greeted with hostility: ‘Any questions? There were no questions, but a fat Franciscan made a throat-cutting gesture.’ (from You’ve Had Your Time)

Mr Asprey politely describes this as ‘a moment of…Burgessian…hyperbole’. For as Mr Xuereb points out, ‘Mr Burgess’s lecture was heard by the vast majority to the end and was applauded….Mr Burgess was in good humour and afterwards joined members of the Malta Library Association committee [sponsors of the talk] for drinks in a Sliema hotel.’

Burgess was much irritated by censorship during his time in Malta. Here is another letter-to-the-editor from Mr Xuereb. (‘Though there are others who react to any mention of censorship reform by predicting an era of widespread depravity and debauchery in the country, it cannot fail to puzzle me why our Government continues to adopt a phlegmatic attitude…’) This one, which appears in the Andrew Sciberras blog, is dated 15 November 1970.

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