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Selected quotes by Anthony Burgess on money, need, age, experience and other things.

99 Selected Quotes By Anthony Burgess, The Author Of A Clockwork Orange

Quick Facts

Also Listed In

Born On
25 February 1917 AD

Died On
22 November 1993 AD

Born In
Harpurhey, Manchester, England

Died At Age
76

John Anthony Burgess Wilson, better known by his pen name Anthony Burgess, was an author and music composer from England, who is often counted among the greatest writers to have come out of the country in the last hundred years. Other than being a novelist, Burgess was a noted comic writer, broadcaster, essayist, critic, playwright and screenwriter that made him one of the famous individuals in England during his lifetime. Burgess’ most famous work is the novel ‘A Clockwork Orange’ that was later made into a hugely popular film by director Stanley Kubrick, in 1971. He was also a well-known translator and had translated ‘Oedipus the King’ and ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ among others. As a literary critic, he worked for ‘The Guardian’ and was regarded as an authoritative voice in the world of literature due to his standing as a leading novelist. Burgess, however, considered himself to be a music composer first and author second. During his life, he had composed in excess of 200 tunes and his work was quite well received at the time. Burgess is, however, immortalised because of his novels and remains an iconic figure to this day. Here are some of the selected quotes 

You must take your chance boy. The choice has been all yours.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

I wish people would think of me as a musician who writes novels, instead of a novelist who writes music on the side.

- Anthony Burgess

Have you by chance brought some real British tea? Twining’s? Or from Jackson’s in Piccadilly?

- Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

The old days are dead and gone days. For what I did in the past I have been punished. I have been cured.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

That's the law, son. But you were never much of a one for following the law.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Me, me, me. How about me? Where do I come into all this? Am I like just some animal or dog? Am I just to be like a clockwork orange?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Of course it was horrible,' smiled Dr. Branom. 'Violence is a very horrible thing. That's what you're learning now. Your body is learning it.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

One can die but once. Dim died before he was born.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Dreams go by opposites I was once told.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

You'd lay there after you'd drunk the old moloko and then you got the messel that everything all around you was sort of in the past.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Translation is not a matter of words only; it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.

- Anthony Burgess

Goodbye, goodbye, may Bog forgive you for a ruined life." Then I got on to the sill, the music blasting away to my left, and I shut my glazzies and felt the cold wind on my listo, then I jumped.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Well, if they would not go to school they must still have their education. And education they had had.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

In a dead white field an untethered goat gave them sardonic greeting.

- Anthony Burgess

The scientific approach to life is not necessarily appropriate to states of visceral anguish.

- Tremor of Intent, Anthony Burgess

I can't accept that a work of fiction should be either immoral or moral. It should merely show the world as it is and have no moral bias.

- Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

zgr irade ile seilen ktlk, organize gler tarafından kişiye dayatılan deterministik iyilikten daha mı insancadır ?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Suddenly, I viddied what I had to do, and that was to do myself in; to snuff it, to blast off forever out of this wicked, cruel world. One moment of pain perhaps and, then, sleep forever, and ever and ever.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

And those hard slovos, brothers, were like the beginning of my freedom.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Life to most of us is just a jumble of sensations, like a very bad film with no plot, no real beginning and end.

- English Literature: A Survey for Students, Anthony Burgess

The common people will let it go, oh yes. They will sell liberty for a quieter life. That is why they must be prodded, prodded.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

I was very lighthearted. This often the way when the abandonment of personal responsibility is enforced: neither wronged innocence or just guilt can seriously impair the sensation of freedom one has.

- Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

People don't want to know. They have to be made to know. Whether they act on what they know is up to them. But they have to know.

- Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.

- Anthony Burgess

There is only one kind of immorality in fiction, and that is when you write badly.

- Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

Five days shalt thou labour, as the Bible says. The seventh day is the Lord thy God's. The sixth day is for football

- Anthony Burgess

Then I wanted to sick up the gluey pie I'd had before the start of the evening, But I couldn't stand the sort of veshch, sicking all over the floor, so I held it back.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Blessed tree and blessed birds, that were to be neither saved nor damned.

- A Dead Man in Deptford, Anthony Burgess

But, brothers, this biting of their toe-nails over what is the CAUSE of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick. They don't go into what is the cause of GOODNESS, so why of the other shop?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Then we slooshied.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

What gives, O my little sister? Come thou and have a nice lay-down with your malenky droog in this bed.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

We only need to wear shoes because the British built roads which hurt our feet.

- Time for a Tiger, Anthony Burgess

Ser bueno puede llegar a ser algo horrible.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

To some of us, the wresting of beauty out of language is the only thing in the world that matters.

- Anthony Burgess

Is the man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

English is a curiously expressive language. Womb, room, tomb. It sums up living in three words.

- The End of the World News, Anthony Burgess

A work of fiction should be, for its author, a journey into the unknown, and the prose should convey the difficulties of the journey.

- Anthony Burgess

You don't say, 'I've done it!' You come, with a kind of horrible desperation, to realize that this will do.

- Anthony Burgess

There is a satisfactory boniness about grammar which the flesh of sheer vocabulary requires before it can become a vertebrate and walk the earth.

- Anthony Burgess

Delimitation is always difficult. The world is one, life is one. The sweetest and most heavenly of activities partake in some measure of violence - the act of love, for instance; music, for instance.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

If I had died it would have been even better for you political bratchnies, would it not, pretending and treacherous droogs as you are.' But all that came out was er er er.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

We all need money, but there are degrees of desperation.

- Anthony Burgess

Being young is like being like one of these malenky machines.

- Anthony Burgess

When we pray we admit defeat.

- The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess

Life's only choosing when to die. Life's a big postponement because the choice is so difficult. It's a tremendous relief not to have to choose.

- The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess

And to all others in this story profound shooms of lip music brrrrrr. And they can kiss my sharries.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Alex like groweth up, Oh Yes.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

When the State withers, humanity flowers.

- The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess

We were all feeling that bit shagged and fagged and fashed, it having been an evening of some small energy expenditure.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

In a story you had to find a reason, but real life gets on very well without even Freudian motivations.

- Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

But this one was a writer, not a reader.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

I am everyone's friend,'I said.'Except to my enemies.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Bedways is rightways now, so best we go homeways.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

The not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Life is, of course, terrible.

- Anthony Burgess

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

It'll be your own torture," he said, serious. "I hope to God it'll torture you to madness.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

And I thought to myself, Hell and blast you all, if all you bastards are on the side of Good then I'm glad I belong to the other shop.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

It had been a wonderful evening and what I needed now, to give it the perfect ending, was a little of the Ludwig Van.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

If you believe in an unseen Christ, you will believe in the unseen Christlike potential of others

- Anthony Burgess

Life is a wretched gray Saturday, but it has to be lived through.

- Anthony Burgess

It's always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it. To remember where you come from is part of where you're going

- Anthony Burgess

To devastate is easier and more spectacular than to create.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Come with uncle and hear all proper. Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones...you are invited!

- Anthony Burgess

Colonialism. The enforced spread of the rule of reason. But who is going to spread it among the colonizers?

- Anthony Burgess

The essential intention is the real sin. A man who cannot choose ceases to be a man.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

I viddied that thinking is for the gloopy ones and that the oomny ones use like inspiration and what Bog sends. For now it was lovely music that came to my aid.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

You were not put on this Earth just to get in touch with god

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Senseless violence is a prerogative of youth, which has much energy but little talent for the constructive.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

I was cured all right.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Eat this sweetish segment or spit it out. You are free.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

How wicked, my brothers, innocent milk must always seem to me now.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

What I do I do because I like to do.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

But where I itty now, O my brothers, is all on my oddy knocky, where you cannot go. Tomorrow is all like sweet flowers and the turning vonny earth and the stars and the old Luna up there. ... And all that cal.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

We're a government that believes in everybody having the illusion of free will.

- The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess

I was always on my oddy knocky.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions, when it ceases to be dangerous you don't want it.

- Anthony Burgess

It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Civilised my syphilised yarbles.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it.

- Anthony Burgess

Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination.

- Anthony Burgess

Great Music, it said, and Great Poetry would like quieten Modern Youth down and make Modern Youth more Civilized. Civilized my syphilised yarbles.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

This must be a real horrorshow film if you're so keen on my viddying it.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

If you expect the worst from a person you can never be disappointed.

- The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess

Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses to be bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

What's it going to be then, eh?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

I see what is right and approve, but I do what is wrong.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

But what I do I do because I like to do.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world.

- Homage To Qwert Yuiop: Essays, Anthony Burgess

The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?

- A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Every grain of experience is food for the greedy growing soul of the artist.

- Anthony Burgess

Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.

- Anthony Burgess