BURGESS (ANTHONY) Typed sonnet signed, Rome, 1974
Lot 21
BURGESS (ANTHONY) Typed sonnet signed, Rome, 1974
Sold for £225 (US$ 378) inc. premium
Lot Details
Typed sonnet signed, opening: "I send these lines to you in Agincourt..." and written to explain why he is not sending an admirer a photograph of himself: "A man is what he does, not how he seems,/ And what he does is what he bids survive./ The voice that booms, the radiant eye that beams/ Are nothing – not the honey but the hive./ Faces are things one shudders at in dreams:/ The work is what attests the man alive"; on the reverse of a typed letter signed to John Buchanan of Agincourt, Ontario, Canada, explaining why he cannot send the photograph in question, 2 pages, on a pre-printed message-reply form (yellow copy) with Burgess's name printed boldly at the top, oblong 8vo, 16a Piazza Santa Cecilia, Rome, Italy, 16 February 1974


  • 'SOME NASTY ROMAN VANDALISM': this graceful variant on Jonson's First Folio tribute to Shakespeare – 'Reader, looke. Not on his Picture, but his Booke' – was sent by Burgess to a Canadian fan who had requested a photograph, with the accompanying letter explaining that he cannot comply because he has been subjected to a touch of clockwork-orange-style ultra violence (not that he uses those terms of himself): "Last week this flat was burglarised – several thousand dollarsworth of electronic equipment was stolen, as well as ancestral gold and silver, and, to add to things, there was some nasty Roman vandalism". That he should have provided such a wittily-posed self-portrait – "The voice that booms, the radiant eye that beams" – to a far-away admirer under such circumstances is surely tribute to a spirit of great generosity. In the words of Michael Ratcliffe "Burgess had a splendid voice: robust, rich, boozy, and well-smoked, perfect for melodrama and denunciation. He rarely indulged in either" (ODNB). See illustration overleaf.
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