Non-commercial recording of a lecture given by Burgess at the University of London in which he discusses cacotopias, utopias, and Pelagian and Augustinian theology, with particular reference to H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, "A Clockwork Orange", "1985", and "The Wanting Seed".

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 3104 AB/ARCH/D/3/2/5
  • Former Reference
      GB 3104 Audio cassette 0486
  • Dates of Creation
      Original lecture: 03 November 1982. (Comments added on 1 January 1983)
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description

Scope and Content

01:18-04:17, Burgess defines the origins of the terms cacotopia, utopia, eutopia, and dystopia, with reference to Jeremy Bentham and Sir Thomas More.

04:18-06:25, Burgess briefly contrasts the British, French and US-American political systems

06:26-13:39, The lecture turns to recent conceptions of utopian societies, and examines H.G. Wells at length. Burgess positions Wells and himself as anti-establishment writers, in contrast to T.S. Eliot and E. M. Forster. Works referenced include Wells’ “The Time Machine”, “The Chronic Argonauts”, and “The Shape of Things to Come”.

13:40-16:37, The lecture refers to divisions in Christian theology, citing Pelagius and St Augustine of Hippo’s opposing views on original sin.

16:38-17:33, Burgess glosses divisions in British politics.

17:34-35:30, Burgess examines British “cacotopian” writing by contrasting Aldous Huxley’s and George Orwell’s work and their respective cacotopian visions. He analyses Huxley’s “Brave New World” and (from 23:58) Orwell’s “1984”. Other works referenced include Nevile Shute’s “On the Beach”.

35:31-40:14, A discussion of the premise, reception and predictions of Burgess’s “1985”, with reference to Aneurin Bevan, socialism and syndicalism.

40:15-46:26, The lecture turns to “A Clockwork Orange”, encompassing its reception, predictions, free will, good and evil, and original sin.

46:27-51:38, Burgess speaks on overpopulation, his time in Malaysia, warfare, cannibalism, and Pelagian theology, in relation to his novel “The Wanting Seed”.

51:39-53:57, The lecture concludes with Burgess remarking on the function of cacotopian fiction, and how future social problems will be solved by new terminology.

55:08-56:10, Addendum to lecture-recording, added by Burgess on 1 January 1983.

Access Information


This recording has been digitised and is accessible to researchers in mp3 format.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

There are multiple instances of audio interference throughout the recording, including the slight distortion of occasional words. Part of a question and answer session is included, in which Burgess’s voice is barely distinguishable and the audience questions are inaudible (54:22-54:56).