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First omnibus edition (publ. Penguin, 1972)
Cover art by Peter Bentley
Time for a Tiger
The Enemy in the Blanket
Beds in the East
|Published||1956 (Time for a Tiger)|
1958 (The Enemy in the Blanket)
1959 (Beds in the East)
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
It is a detailed fictional exploration of the effects of the Malayan Emergency and of Britain's final withdrawal from its Southeast Asian territories. The American title, decided on by Burgess himself, is taken from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem Ulysses: 'The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: | The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep | Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, | 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.' (ll. 55-57)
The three volumes are:
- Time for a Tiger (1956)
- The Enemy in the Blanket (1958)
- Beds in the East (1959)
The trilogy tracks the fortunes of the history teacher Victor Crabbe, his professional difficulties, his marriage problems, and his attempt to do his duty in the war against the insurgents.
Time for a Tiger
|Series||The Long Day Wanes|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Followed by||The Enemy in the Blanket|
Time for a Tiger, the first part of the trilogy, is dedicated, in Jawi script on the first page of the book, "to all my Malayan friends" ("Kepada sahabat-sahabat saya di Tanah Melayu"). It was Burgess's first published work of fiction and appeared in 1956. The title alludes to an advertising slogan for Tiger beer, then, as now, popular in the Malay peninsula. The action centres on the vicissitudes of Victor Crabbe, a history teacher at an elite school for all the peninsula's ethnic groups – Malay, Chinese and Indian the Mansor School, in Kuala Hantu (modelled on the Malay College at Kuala Kangsar, Perak and Raffles Institution, Singapore).
Victor Crabbe, a resident teacher at the Mansor School, seeks to tackle the threat posed by a boy Communist who appears to be conducting clandestine night-time indoctrination sessions with fellow students. But the headmaster, Boothby, scoffs at Crabbe's warnings.
Nabby Adams, an alcoholic police lieutenant who prefers warm beer ("he could not abide it cold"), persuades Crabbe to buy a car, enabling Adams to make a commission as a middleman. This is despite the fact that Crabbe will not drive because of a traumatic car accident in which his first wife died and he was the driver.
Crabbe's marriage to the blonde Fenella is crumbling, while he carries on an affair with a Malay divorcee employed at a nightclub. A junior police officer who works for Adams, Alladad Khan, (who has a secret crush on Fenella) moonlights as a driver for the couple. Ibrahim bin Mohamed Salleh, a (married) gay cook, works for the couple but is being pursued by the wife he has fled from after being forced to marry her by his family.
The threads of the plot come together when Alladad Khan drives Crabbe, Fenella and Adams to a nearby village, along a route where they face possible ambush by Chinese terrorists. Due to unforeseen circumstances, they return late to the school's speech day and an unexpected chain of events follows that transforms the lives of all the main characters.
The Enemy in the Blanket
The title is a literal translation of the Malay idiom "musuh dalam selimut", which means to be betrayed by an intimate (somewhat similar but not quite the same as the English "sleeping with the enemy"), alluding to the struggles of marriage but also other betrayals in the story. The novel charts the continuing adventures of Victor Crabbe, who becomes headmaster of a school in the imaginary sultanate of Dahaga (meaning thirst in Malay and identifiable with Kelantan) in the years and months leading up to Malayan independence.
Burgess was dismayed by the design of the cover of the 1958 Heinemann edition of the novel, presumably designed in London. It shows a Sikh working as a ricksha-puller, something unheard of in Malaya or anywhere else. He wrote in his autobiography (Little Wilson and Big God, p. 416): "The design on [the] dust-jacket showed a Sikh pulling a white man and woman in a jinrickshaw. I, who had always looked up to publishers, was discovering that they could be as inept as authors. The reviewers would blame me, not the cover-designer, for that blatant display of ignorance."
Beds in the East
The title is taken from a line spoken by Mark Antony in Antony and Cleopatra II.vi.49-52: 'The beds i' the east are soft; and thanks to you,/That call'd me timelier than my purpose hither;/For I have gain'd by 't.'
- Victor Crabbe, initially a resident teacher at the Mansor School, seeks to tackle the threat posed by a boy Communist who appears to be conducting clandestine night-time indoctrination sessions with fellow students. But the headmaster, Boothby, scoffs at Crabbe's warnings. Later, a headmaster.
- Fenella, Crabbe's wife
- Nabby Adams, an alcoholic police lieutenant who prefers warm beer ("he could not abide it cold"), persuades Crabbe to buy a car, enabling Adams to make a commission as a middleman. This is despite the fact that Crabbe will not drive because of a traumatic car accident in which his first wife died and he was the driver.
- Abdul Kadir, Crabbe's hard-drinking and foul-mouthed teaching colleague at the school, whose every sentence includes the words "For fuck's sake!"
- The hard-up lawyer Rupert Hardman, who converts to Islam in order to wed a domineering Muslim woman, 'Che Normah, for her money. He later bitterly regrets it and tries to return to the West in order to escape the marriage.
- Talbot, the State Education Officer, a fat-buttocked gourmand whom Victor Crabbe cuckolds, and who cuckolded Crabbe years earlier himself
- Anne Talbot, Talbot's wife, a wanton adulteress
- The womanising Abang of Dahaga, who is also a devotee of chess and who aims both to seduce Crabbe's wife and to purloin his car
- Father Laforgue, a priest who has spent most of his life in China and longs to return there but is prevented from doing so, having been banished by the Communist regime that came to power in Peking a decade earlier
- Robert Loo, a brilliant boy composer whose musical career Crabbe seeks to further
- Ah Wing, Crabbe's elderly Chinese cook who, it emerges, has been supplying the insurgents with provisions
- Jaganathan, a fellow teacher who plots to supplant and ruin Crabbe
- Mohinder Singh, a shopkeeper trying desperately, and failing, to compete with Chinese traders
- Rosemary Michael, an 'eminently nubile' Tamil with 'quite considerable capacity for all kinds of sensuous pleasure'
- Tommy Jones, a beer salesman. 'That's my line. I sell beer all over the East. Thirty years on the job. Three thousand a month and a car allowance and welcome wherever I go.'
- Lim Cheng Po, an Anglophile lawyer
- Liversedge, an Australian judge who harbours a secret resentment against the English
- Moneypenny, an anthropologist studying the hill tribes and living in the Malayan jungle. He has lost touch with civilisation to the extent that he believes it is lethal to laugh at butterflies and "now regarded even a lavatory as supererogatory".
Initially published by Heinemann in discrete volumes, all known editions have since included all three novels in a single volume. The list below excludes out-of-print editions, viz. the paperbacks published by Penguin and Minerva in Britain, and W. W. Norton's American hardback edition published in 1964.
- Burgess, Anthony The Malayan Trilogy. (London: Vintage, 2000) ISBN 9780749395926. The sole edition which includes Burgess's retrospective introduction to the triptych.
- Burgess, Anthony The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1993) ISBN 9780393309430. American paperback edition.
Works of criticism
- Bloom, Harold (ed.) Anthony Burgess. (New York: Chelsea House, 1987) ISBN 0-87754-676-2.
- Lewis, Roger Anthony Burgess. (London: Faber, 2002) ISBN 0571204929. A biography of Burgess.
- Yahya, Zawiah Resisting Colonialist Discourse. (Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 1994) ISBN 978-9679422962.
- Kerr, Douglas Eastern Figures: Orient and Empire in British Writing (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2008) ISBN 9789622099340. pp 191 – 196.
- Erwin, Lee 'Britain's Small Wars: Domesticating "Emergency"', in The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century British and American War Literature, (eds.) Piette, A. and M. Rawlinson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012) ISBN 9780748638741. pp. 81–89.
- Brand, Quentin. "Unorientalized". Open Letters Monthly.
- Ingersoll, E. G.; Ingersoll, M. C. Conversations with Anthony Burgess. University of Mississippi Press. p. 89.
- Tennyson, Alfred (1989). Ricks, Christopher (ed.). Tennyson: A Selected Edition. University of California Press. p. 144.
- Burgess, Anthony (2000). "Introduction". The Malayan Trilogy. Vintage. p. ix. ISBN 9780749395926.
- Shakespeare, William (1974). "Antony and Cleopatra". In Evans, G. Blakemore; Kermode, Frank (eds.). The Riverside Shakespeare. Houghton Mifflin. p. 1360. ISBN 0395044022.