Books: The Riddle of Reality

THE DOCTOR IS SICK by Anthony Burgess. 261 pages. Norton. $4.50.

In 1959 British Novelist Anthony Burgess flew home from Brunei, where he had spent five years as an educational consultant to the Sultan, to undergo examination for a suspected tumor of the brain. The suspicion proved baseless, and after six weeks in London's National Hospital, Burgess was released, sound as a pound. In most men, the experience would have produced no more than a sigh of relief. In Burgess, it excited the wild flight of imagination that produced this novel.

It opens in a...