Anthony Burgess, your translator Georges Delmont wrote this of you: "Burgess is as disconcerting as a dinosaur going up the Champs-Elysees".
Yes, I accept that, yes.
What is your star sign?
Like George Washington and Goldoni and Beethoven.
But I'm not all Pisces, maybe I'm Taurus.
That means that you're dynamic.
Yes, I try to fight against all the faults of the modern State, the danger of guns and all that, but basically I'm a comic writer.
My job is to make little comic artefacts if that's possible.
How many books have you written?
I have just finished my thirtieth, a book about the pollutant city, eh...thirty books.
In how many years?
How many...Eighteen years.
Thirty books in eighteen years, that's a huge number, why?
Yes, you have to work very hard!
Besides it's a long story, a very strange story, but I received the death sentence.
Sixteen years ago, doctors discovered a sort of cerebral tumour in my head, and they told me it's inoperable.
And, very gently, they gave me a year to live.
And so I had no money, I had no job, and I visited some schools to try to get a job.
That wasn't possible because all the principals said "there's no future, old chap, there's no future".
So what was there to do?
And I became an author by profession.
During this final year, this very odd and terminal year, I wrote five and a half novels.
Five and a half novels?
Five and a half novels, including "A Clockwork Orange", and this new novel in French which will come out at the end of the month.
"The wanting seed"
And then you realised after a year that you were still alive!
As I already said, it's a long story.
I suppose that the real reasons for this sentence are not clinical, they are political because I was at that time a colonial official in Borneo,
And I was mixed up in domestic politics and they deported me very quickly with this story, with this beautiful story of a cerebral tumour, I think.
Among the thirty books, some are published under a pseudonym, the pseudonym Joseph Kell.
Also John Burgess Wilson, three names.
It was necessary because the publishers were afraid of my productivity.
It was necessary to hide, to have the other pseudonyms, other pen names, and Joseph Kell is the leader of these pen names.
Which parts are autobiographical in your most well known novel in France, "A clockwork orange".
"A clockwork orange", yes, I wrote it at thirty, and for me it was not a great novel, a masterpiece.
It was just a little linguistic game, in which I tried to mix the two languages English and Russian, in order to make a new dialect for my hero.
It was also a little theological discussion on the importance of free will.
The violence in this novel was necessary, in order to represent the sort of evil.
Because my argument was this:
it was important to choose, we have the right to choose.
If we want to choose evil, that's very human.
But if the State imposes on us only the capacity for good, this capacity for good is really evil, it's worse, it's much worse than the desire to do evil of your own free will, for example violence.
But the violence in the film is the only thing which the audience remembers.
It's a shame because for me that's not very important.
Nevertheless, you seem fascinated by violence?
Not at all.
No, I don't like violence, I correct myself, I don't like barbarity.
I think that Jean-Paul Sartre made this distinction between barbarity and violence.
Violence is sometimes necessary in order to change things, to change political things, and also to make artistic works.
If you make a sculpture, if you make music, you take the elements from nature and you are violent with them, you are violent with natural sculptures to make truly human sculptures.
This kind of violence is not bad.
But violence with no goal, for no reason...
As I wrote in my novel, is sinful and completely undesirable.
And I loathe that!
What do you think or your fellow British countrymen?
There are two types of English people, southern English and northern English.
I'm from Manchester, I am [not understood] from Lancashire.
And we are totally different from Londoners and those from the south, because I have always thought that these English people, this type of English person was completely incomprehensible.
A man like me, I thought that it was better to return to my own place, which is catholic Europe.
But, I live in Italy, a country full of very bad Catholics, but who are more pleasant than my fellow countrymen.
I don't like the English.
And you are currently writing or have even finished I believe a book about Napoleon?
Yes, this is not a subject for the English because our we see him as something horrible, but I admire Napoleon a lot because he is a kind of great Alex,
you know Alex, my hero from a clockwork orange.
And I see in Napoleon's character a very interesting combination of...
err... I forget the name... a machine for counting...computer.
How do I say it in French?
Computer! A combination of a computer and a gorilla!
Half-animal and half-machine.
It's very interesting!
But for me, the main reason for writing this book, is to make a sort of symphony in words.
I was formerly a musician, and I tried to imitate Beethoven's Heroic Symphony with four movements.
Allegro, Funeral March, Scherzo and Variation,
and it's possible with this method to represent Napoleon, without this gloomy finale,
which you naturally find in all the memoirs of Napoleon, Napoleon died in Saint Helene, there were tears etc.
But this finale in my little novel, my big novel, is completely triumphant.
Napoleon lives on.
Currently, he still lives with the rest of us English.
Because he defeated us.
We are part of the big European family, which Napoleon wanted.
So after his death, he defeated us.