Category Archives: Monaco

Last hurrah

According to Ted Jones in The French Riviera: A Literary Guide for Travellers (p. 158), the last book Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco read before her death in a car crash on a bend of the Route de la Turbie, Cap-d’Ail, France, was Earthly Powers by her friend, local resident Anthony Burgess — who was incidentally a Commandeur du Mérite Culturel of Monaco.



Graham Greene stated that Evelyn Waugh

had the rare quality of criticising a friend, harshly, wittily and openly to his face, and behind the friend’s back of expressing only his kindness and charity.

Greene with envy

That is true. Greene also stated:

There were times when certain popular journalists tried to push us [him and Waugh] into what the Indonesians call a confrontation [a reference to the Konfrontasi, Jakarta’s struggle with Malaysia in 1962-68].

That is false. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe anything I read in the newspapers either. But you can take cherchez le journaliste too far. Greene, as I explain here, could be as silly as he was conceited.

Greene’s Konfrontasi with Anthony Burgess wasn’t choreographed by journalists; it was entirely of his own making. Greene became envious of Burgess’s mastery of the medium of television, and professed to consider Burgess’s appearances vulgar. The truth was that Greene, owing to the poverty of his ideas, lacked confidence in the glare of the television lights. In a one-hour documentary for the BBC, he refused to show his face, allowing only his hands to appear. Burgess, by contrast, had something to say and knew how to say it. It caused a gnawing envy in Greene, who au fond regarded Burgess as an upstart.

Matters between Greene and Burgess were not helped by an interview Burgess conducted with Greene for one of the London newspapers. Burgess took the trouble to travel to Greene’s place of residence in Antibes, Greene lacking the confidence to be interviewed anywhere but on home ground. Burgess was rewarded for his pains with snobbery and snideness. Burgess’s crime in Greene’s eyes appears to have consisted in the assumption that they could meet as equals rather than as master and apprentice.

On the staircase of Anthony Burgess

The Burgess residence is on the third floor of the block of flats at rue Grimaldi 44, La Condamine, Monaco. The restaurant opposite is probably where Burgess was interviewed by Martin Amis for the London newspaper the Observer. The ‘interview’ appears to have become a day-long drinking session. The young Amis emerged from the experience with a hangover like seven Swedes, as he relates in a postscript in Visiting Mrs. Nabokov (a non-fiction collection).

This footage, shot at Grand Prix time, shows how crowded The Condamine becomes with tourists of all nationalities in the summer months, and the crowds tended to drive Burgess and his second wife Liana away to their retreats at Callian, in the Var, Provence, or at Savosa, Ticino, high up overlooking Lake Lugano, Switzerland.

Number 44, rue Grimaldi….is a ten-minute walk from the railway station on the one-way artery that leads to Nice. It is a two-minute stroll from the sea front, though it looks out, from the back windows, on the verandahs of the Bristol Hotel, and, from the front, on to a rather charming vista of belle époque houses, all of which will, in due time, be demolished to make room for skyscrapers. For Monaco is no longer a delectable oasis of art nouveau, restful except in the Casino gambling salons, where the players sweat over their plaques and the running of the ball….Like…Manhattan, it has to expand upwards. It cannot push out into the Mediterranean or back into France, where the Alpes Maritimes stand guard.

(You’ve Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess, pp 330-331)

For all your tax planning needs: A. and L. Burgess, rue Grimaldi 44

And if you’re also a keen yachtsman, Nigel Burgess, whose offices are next door, is at your service.

Anthony Burgess, tax evader extraordinaire

In articles for the press…I announced my intention of leaving England for good. It was a kind of Jeffersonian declaration….the British, before the dissolution of their empire, had regarded exile as a kind of patriotism. I had gone abroad twice to serve that empire, or what was left of it, and now I proposed serving something bigger….There were other reasons for exile — my marriage to a European, my need of light, my disgust with British taxation. This last was presumed to be the one and only reason.

— from You’ve Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess

Adieu to income tax

‘I will, naturally, cheat the fiscal tyrants, but it would be inhuman not to,’ Burgess wrote. His move to Monaco in 1974 was prompted by the knowledge that there is no income tax in the principality and that his widow would not be required to pay death duties on his estate.

A sunny place for shady people

Burgess points out in his autobiography that he owned a Mercedes-Benz (his wife did the driving), but he does not indicate which model, and my own sense is that it is likely to have been a later model than the one that the prominent Monaco businessman Mr William Batchelor is sitting on here.

De explosieve kracht van walgen en verlekkeren

Auke Hulst on top form with a discussion of the English riots of 2011 and the Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange.

L’escalier Burgess

Anthony Burgess with cigarette or, more likely, cigarillo, on the staircase of the block of flats at Rue Grimaldi 44, The Condamine, Monaco, in 1973. Photo: Jean-Régis Roustan

Bourgeois building

Rue Grimaldi 44, La Condamine, Monaco, where Antoine Le Bourgeois, aka Anthony Burgess, owned a flat.