First published in 1971, MF was written in response to a suggestion by William Conrad (Warner Brothers Seven-Arts) that someone should update the Oedipus story. It develops the Oedipal themes of riddles, incest and hidden identity and combines musical and literary elements, which Burgess discusses in This Man and Music, published in 1982. The novel was influenced by the work of Claude Levi-Strauss, whose writings exerted a profound influence upon Burgess from 1967, when he first read and reviewed The Scope of Anthropology. Burgess later described MF as the novel that displeased him least.
Also known as M.F. or M/F. (Early drafts are written under the title The Incest Play, The Riddle Solver, or The Solver of Riddles.)