Lilies that Fester

The Clockwork Testament as a Campus Novel


  • Ákos Farkas Eötvös Loránd University
  • Evgeniya Laverycheva Eötvös Loránd University



This article endeavours to examine Burgess’s mid-career novel, The Clockwork Testament, to establish whether the third instalment of the “Enderby Quartet” can, or indeed should, be reclassified as a piece of academic fiction. What is at stake here is not only a matter of generic taxonomy but also the question of how such a possible reclassification could impact our understanding of Burgess’s thematic and stylistic preoccupations and how, in a broader sense, this particular novel of his fits into an important segment of twentieth-century English-language fiction highlighted by the names of Kingsley Amis, David Lodge, or Philip Roth. Informed by theoretical insights gained from the works of Michel Foucault, Elaine Showalter, and others, this piece could also make a notable contribution to what is known as the poetics of place on the one hand and our knowledge concerning the writer-environment nexus on the other. Taking a close look at the biographical and historical context in which The Clockwork Testament was written is meant to suggest the ethnic, cultural, and sociological tensions that beset the refurbishing of higher education in America at the time. All in all, the authors offer their answer to the question whether The Clockwork Testament is a campus novel in any meaningful sense of the word and, if so, what that tells us about Burgess and his fictional excursion into academia.