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One Hand Clapping: A Novel Paperback – July 1, 1999


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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Anthony Burgess is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, among them A Clockwork Orange, A Dead Man in Deptford, the critically acclaimed Byrne, and One Man's Chorus.
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Burning Down George Orwell's House
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Robert Stone describes Burning Down George Orwell's House as a "… most enjoyable, a witty, original turn … one part black comedy and one part a meditation on modern life. It is well-written and truly original." Learn more about the author, Andrew Ervin

Product Details

  • Series: Burgess, Anthony
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (July 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780786706310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786706310
  • ASIN: 0786706317
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,033,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anthony Burgess (25th February 1917-22nd November 1993) was one of the UK's leading academics and most respected literary figures. A prolific author, during his writing career Burgess found success as a novelist, critic, composer, playwright, screenwriter, travel writer, essayist, poet and librettist, as well as working as a translator, broadcaster, linguist and educationalist. His fiction also includes NOTHING LIKE THE SUN, a recreation of Shakespeare's love-life, but he is perhaps most famous for the complex and controversial novel A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, exploring the nature of evil. Born in Manchester, he spent time living in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England, until his death in 1993.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By lazza on September 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
One Hand Clapping is a short, bitterly humorous look at a British working-class couple who strive to win a fortune on a TV quiz show, then spend their fortune in a rather peculiar fashion. Although Once Hand Clapping was written in the early 1960s it's satiric message still rings true. I loved it.
However this novel is not for everyone. Firstly, the book has a very British feel about it. Much of the wording is not used in America, and is even distinctly old-fashioned here in England. But otherwise One Hand Clapping is an excellent introduction to the brilliant world of Anthony Burgess.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Sticher (rstiche1@nycap.rr.com) on August 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
_One Hand Clapping_ is that rarity, a truly rousing, dark, and hilarious satire which doesn't get lost by either being too silly or too dark. An excellent compromise, with an added bonus of not uncovering its true point until around the end. I can't help but sympathize with poor Burgess, whose entire life's work was defined by _A Clockwork Orange_; while that, too, is an excellent work, he has so much more in his back catalogue than just droogs and moloko!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Randleman on November 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
From the very beginning this book has wit, well defined characterizations and a fine sense of place and atmosphere.

As the story moves along you are taken into the world of the character's loves, hates and desires which ultimately underscores the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for" in a wonderfully delicious black comedy the British seem to do better than most. One is tempted to read it through in one setting because it is hard to wait to find out what will happen next.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By holly@reporters.net on September 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I can't disagree more with something12_2@hotmail.com. *One Hand Clapping* is a terrific book, funny, profound, and memorable. Although I read it several years ago, I think about quite a lot -- and remember quite vidily the pleasure I had reading it. I highly recommend it to both Burgess fans and those who have never read him, or think he just wrote *Clockwork Orange.* It's good to see *One Hand Clapping* is still in print.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Master novelist Burgess entertains in his inimitable style with this nicely drawn character study of a well-meaning genius who makes a load of money on a quiz show. The plot gets rolling when he and his wife invite a starving poet to move in with them.
In the end, I was reminded of Bob Dylan's lyric from his great acerbic song 'Idiot Wind';
"I can't help it if I'm lucky."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cole Davis on March 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is not standard grandiloquent Anthony Burgess in that it is deliberately written with a limited vocabulary. This departure from the norm has a point: for cultural absorption to take place in a population as a whole, it takes both the critical and the uncritical to do the absorbing. Burgess' narrator is a sensitive but poorly educated person, the counterpart of an intellectually astute, if ultimately insensitive, husband who is driven mad by the senselessness of the insurgent American culture.

Yes of course this novel is dated. It was set in the austere 1950s, when most people in Britain paid for the second world war with materially limited lives, which provides the counterpoint of the married couple's international wealth binge. All right, if contemporary fiction is what you're after, you're in the wrong place, but apart from the interest in seeing how life was lived then (or remembering, for some of us), some of the points made about materialism and the meaning of life are forever valid.

If you are reading the new edition of this book ('The Anthony Burgess Collection'), then do yourself a favour and skip the introduction (by one Roger Lewis). Apart from blurting out the highlights of the plot, he also spends a fair amount of time abusing the author and coming out with less than enlightening literary allusions without really dealing clearly with the central themes. Or if you really must, then read it afterwards. Taking it at its word, as an introduction, really spoiled my read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kafive on January 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book surprised me a lot. I've read a few of Burgess's books and typically his style is more eloquent and he utilizes an enormous vocabulary. This book is written from the perspective of a woman who is kind of an idiot and therefore he does not put his vocabulary or great writing to work, but the style works really well as it suits the personality of the narrator. All that being said it's a quick and fun read and I'd highly recommend it, but if this is your first venture into Burgess keep in mind his novels are usually much different from this one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By logosapiens VINE VOICE on August 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do you remember the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES TV sitcom back in 1962?

"This is the story about a man named Jed...a poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed...one day he was shooting for some food and out from the ground came some bubbling crude...Texas Tea...the kin folks said Jed move away from there... this ain't the place you ought to be so they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly...hills that is ...swimming pools... movie stars." (Introduction song BEVERLY HILLBILLIES TV sitcom)

An American TV sitcom complements an English pulp story from 1961 in that both tales make the journey from rags to riches just like Jed.

Howard and Janet are stalwart service proletarians in post war England. Howard is a too candid used car salesman and Janet works as a stocker in a grocery store. Howard has a hidden gift that will change their lives forever. Howard has a photographic memory which enables him to win big on a popular TV game show and later the horse track. Howard views his gift as a "deformity."

How a photographic memory give someone an advantage in horse racing is a mystery to me. How Howard could read as much as he did to answer every single obscure question correctly is another mystery. The couple leave their small home in a tiny village for a lavish spending spree in London. In a small London theatre, Howard correctly explains the Buddhist koan "one hand clapping" to the befuddled Janet only leaving me to wonder how Howard's intelligence can be just photographic.The saga of Howard and Janet continues with Howard strangely aloof and preoccupied as the couple engages in conspicuous consumption and lavish trips. Janet engages in adultery.
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