The Devil's Mode

by Anthony Burgess Random House $18.95. Mr. Burgess has a liking for history and music plus an exceptionally lively imagination. He displays these qualities in a collection of short stories that provide intelligent entertainment for readers of similar tastes. The musically illiterate may be baffled by Mallarmé’s doings in Dublin, but will surely find pleasure elsewhere—if not with Attila in Rome, then with social comedy on the international circuit or with a parodied Sherlock Holmes. In “A Meeting in Valladolid,” Shakespeare and company, dragged to Spain as ornaments for a diplomatic mission, suffer seasickness; indigestion; a bullfight, which Master Shakespeare declines to tolerate; audiences that do not understand English; Spanish plays that they, in turn, cannot understand; and a collision with the elderly and bad-tempered Cervantes. All these miseries are presented in twenty pages of vivid, fast-moving, elegant prose. Mr. Burgess possesses splendid abilities as an author, and one of them is a refusal to dawdle.