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The Richard Burton Diaries Hardcover – October 23, 2012
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“The most salient part of The Richard Burton Diaries (now out in paperback from Yale University Press and a far superior 'beach read' to any Revenge Wears Prada folderol) is not the great Welsh actor’s fabled love of language, his stage fright or his splurges on private airplanes and pedigreed jewels for the love of his life, Elizabeth Taylor.”—Alexandra Jacobs, The New York Times (Alexandra Jacobs The New York Times 2013-07-15)
Top Customer Reviews
Credit must be given to Burton's widow Sally. She generously donated the set of diaries to Swansea University and made this book possible. She knew how much of the content referred to her husband's (in)famous marriages to Elizabeth Taylor; a lesser woman might have destroyed the diaries out of jealousy. Sally receives the editor's highest praise for her donation and her "wonderfully supportive" assistance. Many members of the Jenkins-Burton-Taylor families are also credited, and the list shows what a work of love this book is.
Chris Williams, a professor of Welsh history and former director of the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales, has taken on the mammoth task of making the diaries more accessible to the general reader. He footnotes the first mention of people, places and things, providing dates of birth (and death) and a brief line or two of biography; locations, full titles, dates of publication, translations, etc. Burton was extremely well read, and the footnotes provide detailed info about the books Burton casually refers to. Williams admits uncertainty in a few spots, but his devotion to the task is unquestionable. He usually corrects Burton's spelling, but there are a few very minor blips (e.g. Burton refers to "Barbara Streisand" in April of 1969 and Williams' footnote also has "Barbara"...Read more ›
Reading the diaries of the peripatetic Burton -- actor, icon and bon vivant -- I am transported to the sunny coast of Italy, to a trattoria in Portofino, a movie set in Rome, a late-night cabal with film and stage luminaries; and to a quiet beach in Puerto Vallarta on which to stroll with pet dogs, nannies, children and wife -- "en famille," as the great orator might say. I can almost hear his voice.
Speaking of that voice, Burton's command of the language, in fact, many languages (Welsh, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, to name a few) is marvelous. Readers are treated to snippets of classics from Shakespeare to Pepys to The Bible served up as commonly and elegantly as rich, homey soup. Good enough to eat and to keep warm by. (Did I mention the weather outside?) But let me get back to Burton -- when he sizzles.
As he does with his various nicknames for Elizabeth, which are marvelous, too, and hilarious. To wit: Cantank, Shumdit, Quick Take, Short Take, Bon Apetito, Booby, Milady, Glorious, to name but a scant few. I fell out of bed laughing.
Here is a man in love with his wife, his children, his animals. He has the charm and innocence of a boy, not quite grown up, who continually takes himself to task for not doing a better job as husband, father, caregiver. One loves him all the more for it.
He is exceedingly honest about his vices, as when he mentions how much he drinks (3 bottles of vodka one day, which was often par for the course), what diet he's on, whether E (Elizabeth) is looking fat.Read more ›
I was surprised at how calmly he could talk about living through air raids as a boy. It was as if this was just ordinary stuff and nothing to get upset about. He and his buddies just lived and played as if nothing bad was going on.
Richard's absolute passion for reading started young and stayed with him for his entire life. He read to learn and most of his reading was pretty heavy. He did take streaks of reading just for entertainment.
He seemed to battle with his darker, moody side and the booze definitely didn't help. He seemed happiest when he was alone with Elizabeth and his books on the Kalizma away from the public scrutiny that was so much a part of their life. He would have loved to stop working and just live with Elizabeth and his books.
It is very clear to me that he loved Elizabeth Taylor very much, even after they were divorced. Without booze, who knows, they might have made it. With booze, the relationship was too destructive.
I enjoyed this book partly because as I am reading Burton's words, I can almost hear him speaking them. In spite of his wealthy life style, it is interesting to read the mundane details of life such as all of the commotion that would attend the arrival of the children. Even though he loved them, he was usually glad when they left and life would return to normal.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't finished the book yet but what I have read so far it incrediblePublished 2 months ago by Jack Marino
I've always been a fan and enjoy reading his insights in his own words.Published 2 months ago by anon
Fascinating read. Lots of details about he and Elizabeth, nothing racy or anything like that, Just insight into their daily life. I enjoyed reading this bookPublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
While I haven't gotten a chance to read it, it's published really well. It's dated and has many footnotes for young people like me who aren't really familiar with Burton except for... Read morePublished 11 months ago by al-Halabi
Great and self-aware (did not realize we all be reading) reporter of his thoughts....At times Burton is truly hysterical.......Published 12 months ago by charles g washburn
Don't believe the other so called biographies, biopics or documentaries, about Richard and the Love between he and Elizabeth. His diaries are are the truth! Read morePublished 12 months ago by T. Backhaus
I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed reading The Richard Burton Diaries. The man was a born written, and I regret that he actually didn't turn out to be a novelist as well as a... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Steven M. Mascaro