Lost Burgess essay on ‘Dubliners’ to be published

Novelist's manuscript will appear in the Irish Times tomorrow to mark centenary of Joyce book

In 1985, Anthony Burgess, who was devoted to Joyce and greatly admired Louis le Brocquy, agreed in principle that he would write a 20-page introduction to the special edition of “Dubliners”, which was limited to 500 copies.

In 1985, Anthony Burgess, who was devoted to Joyce and greatly admired Louis le Brocquy, agreed in principle that he would write a 20-page introduction to the special edition of “Dubliners”, which was limited to 500 copies.

Fri, Jun 13, 2014, 01:00

A lost essay on James Joyce’s Dubliners by celebrated English novelist Anthony Burgess is to be published for the first time in The Irish Times tomorrow, to mark the centenary of the book’s first appearance.

Burgess, best known for A Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers, wrote the essay as an introduction to a special limited edition of Joyce’s stories, illustrated by leading Irish painter Louis le Brocquy and published by Dolmen Press in Dublin in 1986. It was dropped because of a dispute about payment and went missing until it was discovered last month by the Manchester-based International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Devoted to Joyce

In 1985, Burgess, who was devoted to Joyce and greatly admired le Brocquy, agreed in principle that he would write a 20-page introduction to the special edition of Dubliners, which was limited to 500 copies. He asked Liam Miller, owner of Dolmen Press, for £1,000 sterling, an original artwork by le Brocquy, and six copies of the book.

Miller replied that he could offer only a thousand Irish pounds (the Irish pound had a lower value than sterling).

With this agreement in place, Burgess finished the long and brilliant essay in Switzerland in April 1986.

However, Liana Burgess, the author’s wife, refused to send the essay to Dublin but wrote instead demanding a higher fee. There does not seem to have been any direct reply from Dolmen.

Le Brocquy wrote to Burgess to express his sadness that the planned collaboration would not come to fruition.

Burgess’s agent then wrote to Miller to say that the author had not in fact refused to supply the introduction and that he was waiting to hear further from Miller. No agree- ment was reached, however, and on June 16th, 1986, Miller wrote to tell Burgess that the book had gone to print without his introduction.

Miscellaneous papers

Uncharacteristically, Burgess seems subsequently to have lost the manuscript and it remained missing until it was found last month among miscellaneous papers of his former agent.

A spokesperson for the Burgess foundation told The Irish Times: “Burgess wrote an unpublished introduction and ended up being paid nothing, but he would have been delighted to know that it will now appear for the 100th birthday of Joyce’s ground-breaking book.”

Burgess might also have found it somehow apt that the tangled history of his essay mirrors Joyce’s own struggle to publish Dubliners, which eventually appeared in London on June 15th, 1914.