Bitten by the Tarantula.
A Story of the South of France.London, Allan Wingate, 1945 Stock Code: 111721
NotesFirst edition, first impression. Presentation copy inscribed by the author on the half-title verso: "Viesna, mon amour pour toi comme ce petit cadeau, ce roman frivole et sans importance ni dédicace, mais qui maintenant, comme son auteur, est tout à toi. Julian (J. Maclaren Ross), Londres Le six octobre mil-neuf-cent-soixante-deux". The recipient "Viesna" is identified by Paul Willetts as Claire, a "Dublin-based poet and friend of Brendan Behan", one of a few women with whom Maclaren-Ross, penniless and back in London after he had separated from his wife, had affairs in summer and early autumn 1962.
"Such was his conviction that he and Claire, his latest girlfriend, could be happy together, that within only a fortnight he was contemplating going back to Ireland with her. It all went wrong, however, on the evening of Wednesday 12 September when she made a tactless remark which deeply offended him. That Friday she wrote to apologise, but he found what she'd said so inexcusable he appears to have broken off the affair with a regretful postcard, quoting one of her poems: 'The dream, like a perfect crime, must remain in the head.' Only a few days after their romance had ended in such anti-climax, he rebounded into a liaison with a wealthy married woman by the name of Inez" (Willetts, Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia, 2003, p. 293).
Viesna's letter of apology which Willetts references is in the Harry Ransom archive, dated 14 September 1962: "I was very much in the wrong on Wednesday, so I now send you my very sincere apologies for my stupid, tactless and inexcusable remark, which I retract completely, if belatedly. I am quite sure it has killed any feeling you might have had for me and I am all the sorrier as I think everything you said that evening could have come true, and we could have made each other very happy: but now I have spoiled it all."
The tone of Maclaren-Ross's inscription here suggests that his romance with Viesna/Claire did not cool off quite as suddenly as Willetts's account suggests.
Octavo. Original red cloth, title to spine gilt. With the dust jacket designed by John Banting.
2/- price in ballpoint pen amended to 1/- in pencil on half-title. Spine a little rolled, faint smudge to title. A very good copy in a rubbed jacket with a few tiny chips and two tape repairs on the verso.
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