The co-op bookstore for avid readers
Book Cover for: Greatness and Grief: An Appreciation of Richard Burton, Gabriel Hershman

Greatness and Grief: An Appreciation of Richard Burton

Gabriel Hershman

George Segal on Greatness and Grief:
"Read it from cover to cover. Delightful, illuminating and fun. Many things I didn't know. And a lovely trip down memory lane for the things I did know."

Sian Owen (Richard's niece)
"My sister Meg and I both loved the book. Many congratulations."

Guy Masterson (Richard's great nephew)
"There are several biographies of Richard, all of which approach their subject differently. In my view, Gabriel's gets closest to what made him tick."

Richard Burton (1925-1984) was that rare phenomenon - an international superstar who was also a great classical actor. Yet Burton's uproarious marriage to Elizabeth Taylor and extravagant lifestyle drew more publicity than his achievements. By the time of his death a Faustian language had built around him: He had 'wasted his talent', 'thrown away' a promising career and 'sold his soul'. So ran the carping from envious journalists and critics.

In reality, Burton left behind many magnificent cinematic performances. Author Gabriel Hershman picks 20 of the Welshman's finest portrayals and explores his unique screen presence. He also uncovers Burton's extraordinary ability to fathom hidden meaning from text and explains why the oft-repeated 'actor with the great voice' label actually failed to do him justice. It also shows why Burton, although no saint, did not deserve the litany of brickbats that came his way.

This appreciation spurns the clichéd, lurid nature of certain previous works on Burton. The focus here is on his inner life. It reveals how Burton's fusion of remarkable energy, concentration, stillness and intensity made him such a riveting actor.

The author also shows how Burton's demons, which manifested in his catastrophic drinking, influenced his acting. We come to understand how greatness and grief merged to create two of the most superlative performances seen on film - as Alec Leamas in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

With the help of those who knew him best, including director Tony Palmer who worked with him on Wagner for nine months, and his great nephew Guy Masterson, Hershman reveals Burton's extraordinary intellect but also deep-rooted insecurity.

Ultimately, if perhaps ironically, Richard Burton found happiness once his yearning for a simpler life was fulfilled. The author was also given access to unabridged interviews with Burton's fifth wife, Sally, and his daughter Kate, excerpts of which were mentioned on Tony Palmer's brilliant documentary about Burton - In From The Cold?

With this erudite yet accessible work, the author hopes to introduce younger audiences to Burton's work. Thirty seven years after Richard Burton's death he finally shows why critics misunderstood him - mistaking Richard's depression for carelessness and his ostentation for arrogance. Above all, they failed to acknowledge the genius of the 20th Century's greatest actor.

This incisive analysis of Burton's psychology and greatest achievement is the most rounded portrait of Burton yet published.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Publish Date: Jul 16th, 2020
  • Pages: 192
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.61in - 6.69in - 0.41in - 0.69lb
  • EAN: 9798655078420
  • Categories: General