جامعہ پنجاب

For several months in 1957/58, Burgess was in Aylestone, outside Leicester in the English Midlands. He was ‘actively looking for work’, to use the modern-day argot of the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions, though whether he was in receipt of the 1950s equivalent of ‘jobseeker’s allowance’ (welfare) is unknown.

Burgess writes in Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess (p. 420 of the Penguin edition) that during this period when he was back in England after his Malayan years, the British Council (an overseas cultural agency of the British state) ‘proposed sending me to a college in Peshawar to teach phonetics. There was, I was told with referred pride, a small phonetics laboratory in that college. I had doubts, which I did not express, about the value of a phonetics laboratory on the North-West Frontier. Having learned Malay and some Chinese, I did not relish having to forget them and learn new, Indic, languages’.

But according to the biography The Real Life of Anthony Burgess (p. 199 of the hardback edition), far from the British Council making proposals of any kind, attractive or otherwise, Burgess ‘applied unsuccessfully for a Readership in Phonetics at the University of [the] Punjab — a post for which he was hopelessly unsuited, having no publications in the field of linguistics, and no formal qualifications beyond a first degree in English Literature….these job applications [another was for a teaching job at the British Council in Jakarta] ‘turned into rejections and disappointment’.

Incidentally, the University of the Punjab, which is in Lahore, over 300 miles from Peshawar, was the site of a recent (doubtless unauthorised) literary contest for the best paean to the assassinated Osama bin Laden.

University of the Punjab, Lahore

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