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Don’t Tell Sybil cover image Don’t Tell Sybil

George Melly

Atlas Anti-Classics 20

ISBN 1 900565 65 X
224pp 19.7x17.6cm
£15.00
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Augmented Edition. Hardback with decorated endpapers.
 
 

George Melly was a character impossible to ignore in London cultural circles between the 1950s and 1990s. He first came to attention as a jazz singer, notable for risqué songs performed with verve rather than with great technical ability. An arresting personality, Melly also dressed the part: his outrageous suits became a trademark, and his talents as a raconteur soon brought him fame as a TV talkshow guest, though usually late-night for reasons of propriety… His three-volume autobiography is a classic that seems unlikely ever to go out of print, and the cheerful bisexualism it describes first scandalised, then delighted a public whose own sexual attitudes changed over the course of these decades.

Don’t Tell Sybil is a supplementary volume of autobiography which treats in more detail Melly’s youthful and long-lasting attraction to Surrealism, and his equally lengthy friendship with the contradictory character who headed up the English Surrealist group: E.L.T. Mesens. Their adventures and vicissitudes form the core of this book (adventures ELT was keen should not get back to his wife, Sybil, hence the book’s title). Mesens was a perfect subject, an extravagant prankster who could nevertheless be as punctilious and stingy as the most respectable bourgeois. Anecdotes of the artists who showed at Mesens’s gallery — especially Schwitters and Magritte — pepper the narrative, a hugely affectionate memoir by a character who was truly larger than life…

This new edition is augmented with previously unpublished photographs relating to Melly and to English Surrealism.

 
 

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