Beard’s Roman Women by Anthony Burgess

Beard’s Roman Women by Anthony Burgess

English Fiction

Source – Personal copy

I haven’t talked about how Anthony Burgess is one of my all-time favorite writers, so when I looked at the list of books for club 1976.  was happy when I saw this book which I had brought when it came out two years ago as part of the University of Manchester Irwell edition of some of Burgess works that had fallen out of print or as in the case of Puma was part of another novel that Burgess had wanted to publish as a separate work. Anyway, this book was one of the books from Burgess that had fallen out of print this new edition is the first to include the pictures that David Robinson had taken around Rome to highlight the text supernatural parts of the book the original edition had them but in black and white not like color here. The book also has a number of Autobiographical elements that parallel Burgess’s own life.

She died in an English March. He should known, those quiet years in Londin when he was earning their living as a writer of scripts for radio, television and cinem, what her trouble was. He had even written a television play in which one of his characters, a writer of scripts for radio, television and cinema, died of cirrhosis. From those years in Brunei on, when he had woirked for Radio Brunei, it never seemed to him that either of them drank excessively. In the tropics, surely you sweated all that gin out before it got anywhere near the liver.

His own wife died due to Alcoholism they had both lived in Brunei as well.

The book opens with the main character in the book Ronald Beard as we see him with his wife dying. When his wife finally passes away, he decides to head and pursue a job as a screenwriter in Hollywood as he has been hired by a studio exec to write a Musical based on the time Shelley and Lord Byron spent in Geneva. A time that changed both the writers forever as they see a big Hollywood star playing Bryon he heads to Rome as he tries to wor on the musical he is drinking but soon after he arrives in Rome he falls for a woman this is maybe like the drinking a way of avoiding the grief but his wife is still there as we see he is haunted by her as he tries to get on with his new life bu the past keeps creeping in did she die?  As he thinks of there past and figures from his past in the far east crop up. So why did he run off to Rome. Then mix in the atmospheric pictures from Robinson which lifts Beard’s journey of the page.

In Geneva Mary and Percy and his limping lordship(come in perhaps on that Limp) looked up at the statue of John calvin. “The monster that created a monster,” said Byron, handsomely bitter,”A clockwork toy called Predestinate man, wound up by god and arribitrarlly set by him on a path leading to salvation or preditio. No choice is the matter, no freedom in the scheme. How I hate Jack calvin and how I hate  John Knox. i was brought up, ye ken, changing to stage scotch, “on the pestilential puritanism of that woman loather ”

His work on the musical he was sent to work on

 

Now, this has large chunks of Burgess world he loved Rome Which like Dublin he was more drawn to as a capital city than London. He was a catholic so felt closer to these two cities. Like his character Beard Burgess had lost his wife, he also married an Italian woman.  Then there is a shared history in Brunei where Burgess had also worked he also did write a screenplay for Tv about Shelley and Lord Byron that is included in the appendix to the book the book has these elements but Beard isn’t Burgess he used his life as a setting and biography for the story. There is a supernatural element to the book I was reminded at times of the scenes from Don’t look know where we see the image of the lost child in the canal in Venice here we see Beard’s wife there in the background the pictures conjure up the feeling of loss and mystery. The book of its time a world has now gone screenwriters writing musicals about Byron for a Hollywood studio now !! if only lol. If like me you are a huge Burgess fan this is one to read if you like Rome it is partly set there and lots of pictures around Rome. Have you a favorite book from Burgess I have reviewed four other books by him which include two other books from the Irwell series of books. A little late for club 1976

Winstons score – A for me I loved it but I love his writing so much this had lots of his life story in it !

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