Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version



Published in Prairie Schooner 46:1 (Spring 1972), pp. 82-83. Copyright 1972 University of Nebraska Press. Used by permission.

This review was reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, vol. 4, (Gale, 1975).


The novel is a recasting of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Burgess’s love of language is becoming proverbial, and this novel is a philologist’s delight. Many of the words he uses as English are to be found in neither first, second, nor third edition of the unabridged. Browsing through dictionaries, including Classical Greek dictionaries, is part of the fun of reading this book, and was presumably part of the fun of writing it. It is crammed with significant names and with riddles, the first of which would have pleased the Sphinx, the answer to which is ingenious enough to be Oedipal. The book is a Protean work which all lovers of language will have to read.

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