Nothing Like the Sun, Anthony Burgess 1964

Little goes well for WS in Burgess’s novel, of course. (By such means biographers and poets slake their envy!) As he navigates the treacherous London streets the playwright knows himself to be a cuckold, ruined by women. Less celebrated than A Clockwork Orange, Nothing Like the Sun is a similarly bravura offering, rife with colour and invention. Burgess’s persuasive hypotheses are many, including that Shakespeare, working to court deadlines, wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream for separate groups – courtiers, young people, locals – enabling his troupe to rehearse it quickly. Meanwhile, back in the boudoir, the Dark Lady brings heartache and disaster, but also a great, and to the reader, unexpected, gift.