Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Burton, the great seducer, appeared to ignore her at first, then he edged over to her and said fatuously, "Has anybody ever told you that you're a very pretty girl?"As recounted in her 1965 memoir, Elizabeth Taylor, she couldn't believe the lameness of that gambit. "Here's the great lover, the great wit, the great intellectual of Wales, and he comes out with a line like that.

Having discovered one of the great love affairs of the past century in a lay around number of Vanity Fair, we are even more convinced of the catastrophe that faces mankind if the art of writing love letters should become extinct. Richard Burton's correspondence with his lady, Liz, simply makes us wish that more men would surrender to love totally.

Well, first of all, you must realize that I worship you. Second of all, at the expense of seeming repetitive, I love you. Thirdly, and here I go again with my enormous command of language, I can't live without you. Thirdly, I mean fourthly, you have an enormous responsibility because if you leave me I shall have to kill myself. There is no life without you, I'm afraid. And I am afraid. Afeared. In terms of my life, scared. Lost. Alone. Dull . Dumb. (That will be the day.) And fifthly , and I hope I will never repeat myself, I fancy you. I bet that you would be alright if you loved me and stuff like that.

I love you, lovely woman. If anybody hurts you, just send me a line saying something like "Need" or 'Necessary" or just the magic word "Elizabeth," and I will be there somewhat faster than sound. You must know, of course, how much I love you. You must know, of course, how badly I treat you. But the fundamental and most vicious, swinish, murderous, and unchangeable fact is that we totally misunderstand each other... we operate on alien wavelenghts. You are as distant as Venus - planet, I mean - and I am tone-deaf to the music of the spheres.

...so why don't you come down and visit me? I'll show you a good time... I love you. Very very very odd curious strange bizarre unattractive without you. Millions of kisses and hugs. The bed is huge!

All excerpts from A Love Too Big To Last by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, Vanity Fair, July 2010.