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Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess
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Nothing Like the Sun (1964)

by Anthony Burgess

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Not Burgess' best, and Dead Man in Deptford is the superior English playwright fictionalization. Burgess doesn't shy away from the unhygienic grit of 16th century life, but this is perfected in the latter novel, and tends to be overdone in this one. Burgess interprets the literary artist well, however, and makes some interesting assumptions about the obscure life of W. Shakespeare. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
By no means an easy read, I think I may have to go back and re-visit this one some day soon. The vocabulary is rather thick at times... ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Nothing Like the Sun has made me a Burgess fan, since I was never going to read A Clockwork Orange ever since I read the fist two pages back in my late teens and got thoroughly turned off. This book purports to be a biography of Shakespeare and introduces him to us from his late teens, when he was presumably occupied chasing women and bedding every one of those who accepted his advances. Until he got caught into marriage by the brothers of one Anne Hathaway, one of the women which he managed to impregnate, though not at all his first or last choice as a wife. The story follows his career path from his first scratchings until his demise from syphilis, with his first sonnets devoted to what was reportedly one of the greatest loves of his life, a young teenage lord of great beauty, here presented as being Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. His second great love is a Dark Lady, also mentioned in his sonnets, who was probably from Indian descent from the details we glean in this highly fictionalized story. Burgess present to us a lusty William Shakespeare who seems entirely convincing considering the countless bawdy references in his plays, but also a very realistic portrait of a man of genius who is unsure of himself and his position in the world, blending the sublime and the ordinariness of life. Among my favourite books this year.

I should mention I listened to an excellent very recently release audio version narrated by Sean Barrett, and also that I'm very glad I didn't let the utterly confusing beginning of the novel discourage me from continuing on. I can be very slow on the uptake sometimes, so among other things, it took me some time to catch on to the fact that "WS" was our main man. I've got two more Burgesses waiting in the wings, one being the Booker shortlisted Earthly Powers, which comes highly recommended by some of my favourite LT members. I just may have to make room for more Burgess this year. ( )
1 vote Smiler69 | Jul 5, 2015 |
Anthony Burgess is in top form in this recreation of the milieu of Shakespeare's writing of his Sonnets. ( )
  Cacuzza | Dec 9, 2013 |
When I read Shakespeare's sonnets on my local community radio station, as I do from time to time, I always suggest that listeners enchanted by the music and passion of those poems read this novel. It is a shimmering, surprising, enlightening book. ( )
  jarvenpa | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Burgessprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lurin, LarryCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun/Coral is far more red than her lips' red/If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun,/If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
Dedication
MR BURGESS'S farewell lecture to his special students(Misses Alabaster, Ang Poh Gaik, Bacchus, Brochocki, Ishak, Kinipple, Shackles, Spottiswoode and Messrs Ahmad bin Harun, Anguish, Balwant Singh, Lillington, Lympe, Raja Mokhtar, Prindable, Rosario, Spittal, Whitelegge etc) who complained that Shakespeare had nothing to give to the East. (Thanks for the farewell gift of three bottles of samsu. I will take a swig now. Delicious.) The text being the acrostical significance of the following lines: "...My love is as a fever -Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,/The uncertain sickly appetite to please./My reason, the physician to my love/Angry that his prescriptions are not kept/Hath left me ..."
First words
It was all a matter of a goddess - dark, hidden, deadly, horribly desirable.
Quotations
And then he grew calmer and thought: It is not good, but it is as good as many. I cannot waste my whole life in longing for this man’s art and that man’s scope. If I am not made, why then I am not made; I return to my craft of glove-puppetry humbled. And then he walked the streets composing his epistle to the noble lord. It was far harder than any poem.

‘I know not how I shall offend . . .’ Spring waking in London, crude crosses still on the doors, but the wind blowing in the smell of grass and the ram-bell’s tinkle. Piemen and flower-seller’s cried. ‘. . . in dedicating my lines, no, my unpolished lines, to your lordship . . .’ From a barber-shop came the tuning of a lute and then the aching sweetness of treble song. ‘. . . nor how the world will rebuke, no, censure me for choosing so strong a prop . . .’ A kite overhead dropped a gobbet of human flesh. ‘. . . only, if your honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised . . .’ In a smoky tavern a bawdy catch was flung at the foul air. ‘. . . and vow to take advantage of all idle hours . . .’ Pickpurses strolled among the gawping country cousins. ‘. . . till I have honoured you with some grave labour . . .’ A limping child with a pig’s head leered out from an alleyway. ‘. . . But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed . . .’ A couple of Paul’s men swaggered by, going haw haw haw. ‘. . . I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather . . .’ Stale herrings smelled to heaven in a fishman’s basket. ‘. . . and never after ear so barren a land . . .’ A cart lurched, rounding a corner; wood splintered against stone. ‘. . . for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest . . .’ The sun, in sudden great glory, illumined white towers. ‘. . . I leave it to your honourable survey . . .’ A thin girl in rags begged, whining. ‘. . . and your honour to your heart’s content . . .’ An old soldier with one eye munched bread in a dark passage. ‘. . . which I wish may always answer your own wish . . .’ Skulls on Temple Bar. ‘. . . and the world’s hopeful expectation.’ A distant consort of brass -- cornets and sackbutts. ‘Your honour’s in all duty . . .’ A drayhorse farted. ‘. . . WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.’

(Norton ed., 1975), pp. 97-8
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W.W. Norton

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