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Nothing Like the Sun (Allison & Busby Classics) Kindle Edition
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Burgess’s Shakespeare is disreputably bisexual, physically unprepossessing, in an unloving marriage, a man on the make, with an eye to the main chance. This is ‘a story of Shakespeare’s love life’, so freeing Burgess from historical determinism,giving Burgess a freedom of manoeuvre, without the stodginess of chronology. He loves Southampton and writes sonnets for him encouraging marriage. Shakespeare catches syphilis from his dark lady, a black prostitute, Fatimah. The book’s 1st sentence: “It was all a matter of a Goddess-dark, hidden, deadly, and horribly desirable” , prophecies the story. Burgess‘s verbal games are to make us keep up in a game of his choosing. WS loses his son Hamnet, leads to him writing Hamlet. His son by Fatimah is sent to the East. Going back home to the New Place in Stratford he finds wife Anne in bed with his brother. He returns to London and resumes friendship with Southampton, warning him against getting mixed up with the plotter Essex. He also returns to his lover and catches the disease from which the young Earl is already suffering. The book ends with a” dark Lawrentian fantasia on that disease as the source of all evil, and possibly the true source of the truth about this world.” (Kermode).The sharp difference between the sexually lubricious young Shakespeare of Venus and Adonis and the feverishly physically-repelled anti-sex Shakespeare of the later plays.
All the time we get WS’s views on the other great writers like Marlowe his early rise to a peak of play-writing and early death. Here the ‘rival poet’ is Chapman who WS likes to put down and compete with, due to his ‘tutored lines’. Also the ‘bricklayer’ Ben Jonson, who due to his Isle of Dogs play, gets all the play-houses shut down. Nashe and Greene are depicted too. There are plenty of drinking sessions in the taverns. Sidney, Daniel and Drayton on the poetry side. I felt AB related better to the poetry side than the dramatic side of Shakespeare’s talent. We get the players Henslowe, Alleyn, Burbage, Hemmings, Condell and Kempe. There is the suggestion of the Catholic background. This was one of his late early novels and shows the linguistic playfulness and the increase in experimentation of his Joycean mode in the middle period. Probably, one of his best novels and well worth a read. One word man’s(AB) reading of another word man(WS).
I cannot possibly say better than what MR S P HARDISTY has said in his wonderful...nay dazzling review but.....
Nothing Like The Sun by Anthony Burgess is a brilliant book!! One of those rare books which you know you will ( Deo volente) read and read again!! Anthony Burgess' book was written in 1964 and is almost Joycean in the style of its writing. It is a book which you really do have to read several times. Burgess' stylish biographical novel on William Shakespeare is just that - stylish. Beautifully written. His use of English is almost Shakespearian in the breadth and depth of its vocabulary of the English language.There are words in this book that I have never seen before. So a good dictionary of Shakespeare's English would be useful. You will come across words such as "suckets", "palliard", "cup-shotten", "orlop", "bonaventure mizen", "drabler and bonnet", "spilliwilly", and many others. No doubt many will know what these words mean. I shall have to learn them! But is this not one of reading's joys? Build your vocabulary!! Although I cannot imagine when and where I shall use the term "cup-shotten" - perhaps when I am in my cups......? Mayhap, indeed..........
Burgess' Nothing Like The Sun is a fiction-laced-with-fact (or vice versa) account of the life of WS (William Shakespeare? Shaxpere? Shagspere? Skakeshafte? Chaxper? "It is all one.."). Burgess puts forward the theory that Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton was WS's first love who was forsaken by Shakespeare when he was trapped into impregnating and marrying the older-than-him Anne Hathaway. Whether true or not - it is an interesting theory. Burgess chooses to reject (no doubt for literary reasons) the conventional idea that the granting of a licence for William " Shaxpere " to marry Anne Whateley is no more than a typo made on the 27 November 1582 by an overworked Elizabethan clerk in the "office" of the Worcester diocesan records. Whatever the truth about the mysterious Anne Whateley is , Burgess certainly goes to town on the matter.The book is a joy! I recommend it to all lovers of Shakespeare ( Shaxpere, Shagspere, Skakeshafte, Chaxper or just plain old Will....Forsooth Will was not and never will be plain!! Nor will he grow old!!).....and his works.
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First off, this is a wonderful book and you should buy it.Read more
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