THE FANATIC No. 2: Special Low Mindedness Issue (Amsterdam: Winter 1976). Brion GYSIN, Ian SOMMERVILLE.
THE FANATIC No. 2: Special Low Mindedness Issue (Amsterdam: Winter 1976).
THE FANATIC No. 2: Special Low Mindedness Issue (Amsterdam: Winter 1976).
THE FANATIC No. 2: Special Low Mindedness Issue (Amsterdam: Winter 1976).
THE FANATIC No. 2: Special Low Mindedness Issue (Amsterdam: Winter 1976).

56.

THE FANATIC No. 2: Special Low Mindedness Issue (Amsterdam: Winter 1976).

Ed. William Levy. Sm. folio. Wrps., 8pp. Designed by Willem de Ridder. Illustrated throughout, including a photograph of Brion Gysin in his Tangier restaurant by Herbert List.

This infamous issue features Bill Levy's "Nothing Personal But... A Tale of Passion for Brion Gysin", his lengthy letter to John Michell on sexual shenanigans in Tangier involving previous girlfriends, Brion Gysin (and his cook Targuisti), with a passing reference to Heathcote Williams's self-immolation on Jean Shrimpton's doorstep.

It also features Levy's notorious attack on Ian Sommerville ("A Portrait of a Humanoid"), in which he is described as a "tea-boy to the beat generation" with a mishapen penis. Levy prints two of Sommerville's love letters to Susan Janssen (Levy's Dutch girlfriend and future wife, who seduced the notoriously misogynistic Sommerville and claimed to have taken his virginity), along with "His Humourous Bibliography", and pithy quotes on Sommerville from Brion Gysin, William Burroughs and others. Levy also prints a conversation with Ira Cohen in which they discuss Gysin and Sommerville (Cohen claims that the latter's virginity had been taken by a girl called Lucia long before in Tangier, and Levy argues that "Burroughs did his best work before and after he lived with Ian!").

Other features include the pre-suicide letters of a fanatic obsessed with Rita Maria Linnenkamp (whose full-page naked photograph by Susan Janssen appears inside the front cover); anti-semitic texts by Céline and Pound assembled by Levy; an angry memo from Sinclair Beiles; a John Michell rant; and "Don't Shave Your Legs" by Lynne Tillman. Faint spotting to lower edge of front cover, o/w Near Fine.

Together with: i) Ian Sommervile's original handwritten menu for the Christmas dinner held at John Michell's home in Bath in December 1973. Sommerville moved from London to live in Michell's house a few months later, and it was there that he had his brief affair with Susan Janssen, the object of Levy's "jealous rancour" in The Fanatic (Levy refers to Sommerville's menu on page 4: "… he insinuated himself with John Michell by composing a french menu for a Christmas dinner"). Single quarto sheet, with old central vertical and horizontal folds. Very Good. Provenance: John Michell.

ii) xeroxed mss. letter from John Michell to Bill Levy and Susan Janssen informing them of the death of Ian Sommerville: "6th Feb '76 Dear Bill & Susan, Brief, sad news of a tragedy. Ian S. had a new car, used to motor into Bath for drinks. Yesterday he smashed into someone, broke his head. The brains were all mangled and though his body remained alive for a while in a hospital machine, because a Bristol surgeon wanted his kidneys, his death took place at 6pm, Feb. 5. He could never drive steadily. His mother is here; funeral after the inquest. Other, more cheerful matters in next letter. Love, John".

This issue of The Fanatic has sometimes been cited as the cause of Sommerville's death, most notably in "Literary Outlaw", Ted Morgan's biography of William Buroughs. In it, Gysin is reported as claiming that he informed Sommerville of Levy's character assassination in The Fanatic over the phone from Paris shortly before his accident, and that the distress it caused Sommerville led to his fatal inattentiveness behind the wheel. In fact, as Susan Janssen has informed this cataloguer, the magazine had only just been collected from the printers in Amsterdam that day (coincidentally Burroughs' birthday) and could not yet have been seen by Gysin. In seeding this myth, it seems Gysin was propagating the kind of occult conspiracism he shared with Burroughs, a viewpoint from which nothing is 'coincidental' and no accident, death or misfortune is ever simply an 'accident'. The more mundane reality was that Sommerville, as Barry Miles describes in his definitive biography, "Call Me Burroughs", was simply the victim of a collision caused by the driver of an oncoming car mistakenly indicating the wrong turn signal.

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