Nikita Sunburn

Who is Nikita Sunburn?







Critical Review


Biographical Notes:

aka Nick Sunbourne

Born: April 14th, 1928, Toronto (reference Comtemporary Literature Vol. 61)

          October 23rd, 1951, Vienna. (Gianluca Vialli, Nikita Sunburn, A Condemnation, 1982) - this date makes bibliographical dates anacrhonistic.

Died: December 3rd, 1995, Sturgeon Falls, Ontario. (Smile, Issue 9, 1989)

          February 13th, 2001, Padua. (Vile, Issue 63, 2003)


Jean-Guy Talbot and Anthony Lamont insist that Nikita Sunburn is still alive and continue to recieve emails from him as of 2005. Luther Blissett does not believe that Nikita Sunburn has ever owned a computer. Since most of the sources are suspected to be Nikita Sunburn himself what they must be taken with a grain of salt.


Nick Sunbourne was home schooled by Aunt Rose in Keene and went directly into University of Toronto after passing entrance exam at age 18. Some suggest that he took classes with Northrop Frye and Harold Innis. However there is no record of Nikita Sunbrun at the University archives. He may have registered under the name sometimes suggested as his "real name", Nick Sunbourne (Anthony Lamont and Jean-Guy Talbot).

Another story of his education includes Trinity College in Canada followed by the study of evolutionary biology at Dalhousie University. (Gianluca Vialli).

Richard (Dick) Hicks has reported that Nikita told him that he had no education and was raised by a communist librarian in Etobicoke.

Because of Nikita Sunburn's book Symbolic Plumbing with its extensive use of plumbing argot and techniques including high stress non-invasive testing such as used in Nuclear power plants and gas pipe lines, many have suspected that he worked in this area and may have taken courses at community college or perhaps studied as an engineer, perhaps at University of Toronto. (This scenario is similar to Joe Palumbo's background). There he may have sat in on lectures by Innis, Frye and McLuhan and may have even met Hugh Kenner. There is no record of Hugh Kenner mentioning Nick Sunbourne but some have suggested this may have been because of Kenner's publishers refusing to allow his name to appear in print. Some of the writing in The Counterfeiters does suggest connections to Nikita Sunburn theories and aesthetics. Some of the connections are hard to miss and it seems unlikely that Kenner was not aware of Sunburn. Kenner may have know Sunburn under another name and if they were befriended at U of T, Kenner may have decided to honour Sunburn's pathological desire for secrecy.

Literary Life:

Aside from items listed in the bibliography it has been argued that Nikita Sunburn often wrote under pseudonyms. And if Nick Sunbourne/Nikita Sunburn is in fact Anthony Lamont, Jean-Guy Talbot or Gianluca Vialli then their writing would count as his own and vice versa. John Fell has asserted that he is in fact Nikita Sunburn).

Nikita Sunburn and the F-Art Group:

Nick Sunbourne /Nikita Sunburn was connected with the F-art Group members from about 1974-1975. There seemed to be an intense back and forth of ideas during that period, particularly between Sunburn and Dee Kay. Then there was a radically falling out with Dee Kay damning Sunburn in public and constantly insulting him and his work. Dee Kay's volatile megalomania and Sunburn's bi-polar sexual disfunction and paranoia made this collaboration doomed from the start..

Please see this interview with Anita Shrug in 1977 from Novermber  magazine, issue 63, published 1984.

Here is some of Dee Kay's response:

     "In 1974 the F-art Group initiated a boycott of anyone who collaborated with the journal Flatulence, “in order to make an example of the most representative tendency of that conformist and pseudoleftist intelligentsia that has up till now laboriously organized a conspiracy of silence regarding us, and whose bankruptcy in all domains is beginning to be recognized by perceptive people” (F-art Newsletter #5, p. 13). The F-art Group noted various evidences of this bankruptcy and predicted the journal’s imminent demise from sheer incoherence and lack of ideas; which was precisely what happened in 1975.
    As it happened, the last issue of Flatulence contained an article by Nikita Sunburn, On Indigestion that was largely plagiarized from the F-art Group’s “Theses on the 'Waste of Time'” The F-art Group issued a tract, Into the Garbage Heap of Culture, calling attention to the contradiction that the lead article of a guest writer himself far above the general level of this journal — a journal pretending that the F-art Group was of so little interest as to not be worth mentioning — was merely a watered-down version of a text three F-artists had written in a few hours. This tract was reprinted in F-art Newsletter #12 in response to the numerous commentators who attributed to Sunburn an important influence on the Dumb Ideas movement due to “his” theses on the festive nature of plumbing."







Last Updated: December 16, 2007