Byrne: A Novel
Byrne is the English author Anthony Burgess
Anthony Burgess
John Burgess Wilson  – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic. The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess's most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works...

's last novel, published posthumously in 1995.

Composed mostly in the same ottava rima
Ottava rima
Ottava rima is a rhyming stanza form of Italian origin. Originally used for long poems on heroic themes, it later came to be popular in the writing of mock-heroic works. Its earliest known use is in the writings of Giovanni Boccaccio....

 stanzas that Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS , commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement...

 used for his Don Juan
Don Juan (Byron)
Don Juan is a satiric poem by Lord Byron, based on the legend of Don Juan, which Byron reverses, portraying Juan not as a womanizer but as someone easily seduced by women. It is a variation on the epic form. Byron himself called it an "Epic Satire"...

, the story follows the fortunes of Michael Byrne, an Irishman with Spanish blood in him, as a result of Spanish survivors of the war between England's Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 and the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 settling in Ireland and breeding with the Irish in the 16th century.
He thought he was a kind of living myth
And hence deserving of ottima rima,
The scheme that Ariosto juggled with,
Apt for a lecherous defective dreamer.
He'd have preferred a stronger-muscled smith,
Anvilling rhymes amid poetic steam, a
Sort of Lord Byron. Byron was long dead.
This poetaster had to do instead.

A painter and composer whose career is never as spectacular as his ambitions, and a determined womanizer who fathers children across the globe, Byrne becomes a servant of the Nazi
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 regime in 1930s Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

A heavy task, but there was light relief
In the Germanic ambience, boisterous, brash,
Torchlit parades and pogroms, guttural grief
In emigration queues, the smash and crash
Of pawnshop windows by insentient beef
In uniform, the gush of beer, the splash
Of schnapps, the joy of being drunk and Aryan,
Though Hitler was a teetotalitarian.

Eventually he vanishes, presumed dead in Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. But years later, his twin sons, now middle-aged, one a doubting priest, the other suffering from a debilitating disease, receive from Byrne, who is still alive, an invitation to London, where he will read his last will and testament.
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