Books: Unavoidable Whimsy

THE EVE OF SAINT VENUS by Anthony Burgess. 138 pages. Norton. $4.95.

The English themselves freely concede that the pleasures of love are something that foreigners are better at. Aphrodite, after all, was a Greek, and Venus a Latin.

Anthony Burgess, a writer of great wit and erudition, once dared to put the goddess of love in a soggy English garden and between damp English sheets. Only a writer as talented as Burgess could have succeeded in such an unpromising enterprise.

Publishing this little work (or opusculum, as Burgess calls it) 20 years after he...

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