Furious Love: Chapters 7 and 8

I think that these chapters best describe (so far, anyway) the horrible alcoholism affecting the Burtons--esp. Richard. He admits (in his writings) that he was drinking too much, and friends notice it as well.

Just as in my last post, I wasn't impressed by the first chapter of this post. "Married Love" (chapter 7) had some interesting behind-the-scenes information about the filming of The Taming of the Shrew (sounds like the movie played up to the popular image of the Burtons), but other than that I wasn't into it that much.

Chapter 8, "Seduced by Faust," was much better because it covers (albeit much too briefly) the Burton's time in Oxford (appealing to me because I love the city so much) and Burton's work on Doctor Faustus. I found some intriguing quotes in this section. For example, Burton attended Oxford for a while and he mentions having to be especially tough because he came from such a different background from the other students. I can't imagine having to be a disadvantaged (whatever that is supposed to mean because Burton was brilliant) student at Oxford when he was there. "Town and Gown" society was split deeply at that time. It still is, but it was even more segregated when he was there. He mentions that he had to "bloody a few noses"--and I believe it (186).

More interesting was Burton's reason for wanting to play Faustus. (Elizabeth was in it too, but her role was a silent one as Helen of Troy.) Taking the role, the authors say, "[Allowed him the opportunity] to play the quintessential role of the scholar who sells his soul to the devil--for knowledge, for wealth, and for the world's most beautiful woman." As the authors say: "Burton identified with Faustus on all three counts" (187). This I can believe. I also can believe that his pretending to be a don at Oxford while he was there to play Faustus was a very real desire. What I wasn't expecting was the information that Elizabeth participated in this dream, wanting to move to the English city and to teach a course on Tennessee Williams (187). This is intriguing to me. I wonder how she would have handled such a thing...Oxford still is, but especially was then, a chauvinistic environment. Seeing her handle the privileged students (mostly male and arrogant) would be a book in itself!

Other than that, this chapter mainly goes into the drinking problems (Richard's)and health problems (Elizabeth's). There are a few scandalous moments, but I will leave them out of this post! More later!!!


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