Anthony Burgess

Apropos of my new interest in everything pertaining to Anthony Burgess (don't ask), below is Burgess writing on the etymology and proper usage of the F*#% word. And below that is Burgess speaking about F-books, specifically Barbara Cartland who he describes as "vicious". By the way, check out yesterdays post to see Burgess on a ridiculous 1964 English literary game show, inexplicably named "Take It Or Leave It".

"In 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' we meet the ancient honest word fuck. Lawrence believed that it could be cleansed of its centuries of accumulated filth and stalk nakedly through his pages like Connie and Mellors themselves, standing for an act of love which had been too long swaddled in euphemisms. There are many people who cherish the fallacy of a golden age of Anglo-Saxon candour in which lovers invited each other to fuck or be fucked...This was never so. The word has always been taboo. You will find no Anglo-Saxon document which contains it. True, it is old, cognate with the German 'ficken', but it stands for a brutal act unsuitable for the marriage bed. It connotes impersonality and aggression. When Dr. Johnson said that drinking and fucking were the only things worth doing...he was referring to getting drunk and going to brothels. A man can fuck a whore but, unless his wife is a whore, he cannot fuck his wife...fuck is a dysphemism...there is no love in it. Lawrence made an aesthetic rather than a moral gaffe...

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