Saturday, July 27, 2013


Guy Burgess and Tom Driberg in Moscow, mid-1950s

    Unlike the compliant Philby and the conformist Maclean, Burgess never pretended to enjoy the drab anonymity life in his Russian exile.  Moreover, he loved the system and hated the people.  According to the late Tom Driberg, who wrote his apologia and incidentally introduced him to the “large underground urinal”  in the centre of Moscow, which was “open all night and frequented by hundreds of questing Slav homosexuals,” the nonconformist Burgess nonetheless did command some respect from his official superiors.  His political flair had not come amiss early in 1956, after the Suez fiasco, and Eden’s enforced retirement, when Burgess had advised, contrary to the prevailing wisdom, that Macmillan, not R.A. Butler, would be Britain’s next Prime Minister.

   “How on earth did you get it right?” Driberg asked him.

   “Oh,” he replied, “from a study of the life of the great Lord Salisbury . . .”

From:  Andrew Boyle, The Fourth Man, New York, Dial Press, 1980.

Note:  This week I read a review of a new Kim Philby biography that doesn't sound particularly good in terms of providing new information or insights, but I expect I'll get around to reading it.  The new Amanda Knox autobiography sounds much better on that score. That being said, continued study and inquiry into the Burgess/Maclean/Philby/Blunt spy story and its penumbrae will always be rewarding on many levels.

Guy Burgess vacationing on the Black Sea, mid-1950s

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