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Max Beerbohm--A Kind of a Life

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"Max Beerbohm was widely celebrated as the wittiest mind of his age. And it was a very long age indeed: he became famous in the mid-1890s and remained so until his death in 1956. His wit manifested itself in both prose and caricature, and his writings and drawings are keenly interesting. Max's life, however, was relatively uneventful, of interest, he said, only to himself. This biography of Max, the first in forty years, enlivens his story by quoting him whenever possible, and the result - thanks to Max himself - is a scintillating and
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New Haven, CT 2002 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 304 p. Contains: Illustrations. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. ... In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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New Haven, CT 2002 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 304 p. Contains: Illustrations. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. ... In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

"Max Beerbohm was widely celebrated as the wittiest mind of his age. And it was a very long age indeed: he became famous in the mid-1890s and remained so until his death in 1956. His wit manifested itself in both prose and caricature, and his writings and drawings are keenly interesting. Max's life, however, was relatively uneventful, of interest, he said, only to himself. This biography of Max, the first in forty years, enlivens his story by quoting him whenever possible, and the result - thanks to Max himself - is a scintillating and entertaining book." This book, like Max's work, highlights his connection with various eminences over three eras: Algernon Swinburne, J. A. M. Whistler, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf and many others. Written in an idiosyncratic, opinionated, lively, quirky style, it is just the kind of biography of which Max might have (for the most part) approved.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In what may strike readers as an oddly squeamish (not to mention oxymoronic) way to begin a biography, Hall asserts that he will respect his subject's wish that his private life remain a mystery, and he will instead focus only on his public life and his writings and drawings. Yet Hall, a professor of English at CUNY, goes on to say that Beerbohm's gifts as a writer and caricaturist, however celebrated during his life (1872-1956), were ultimately insignificant-"Max does certain small things extraordinarily well, or, in the case of fiction, he makes but a `small' contribution"-leaving the reader to ponder the need for a biography. But Beerbohm created a witty, ultra-dandified persona whose glittering aura has more than made up for the talent that he lacked. After graduating from Oxford, he set out to befriend the best and the brightest (and sometimes the most controversial) figures of his day, including Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, George Bernard Shaw, James Whistler, Henry James and Virginia Woolf. Although Hall inexplicably finds "comfort" in staying "out of Max's private life," he occasionally finds himself guiltily (and almost repugnantly) flirting with such personal issues as Beerbohm's rumored homosexuality and his disavowal of his purported Jewishness. In the end, this is a biography about an ingeniously sycophantic man who had a talent for acquiring fabulously interesting, brilliantly creative friends. It is they who come vibrantly alive on the page. 18 b&w and 10 color illus. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This intriguingly conceived biography reads like a familiar letter, i.e., it will be referenced often for its facts, observations, charm, inviting style, sense of fun and whimsy, and contagious affection for its subject, Max Beerbohm-essayist, critic, and caricaturist. Both fair-minded and lightly satirical, Hall (English, Bronx Community Coll. and Graduate Sch., CUNY) offers an astute analysis of Beerbohm's writings and drawings, as well as his dandyism, friendships, antagonisms, and chaste marriage. Hall offers insightful use of Beerbohm's own words, as well as those of W.H. Auden, Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh, and others to reveal the often illusive and sometimes exclusive Beerbohm. Beerbohm's critical reservations concerning the writings of Shaw and Kipling, as well as his reverence for Lytton Stachey, Algernon Swinburne, and Henry James, are profiled wisely, taking into account his own enthusiasms and bias. Citing examples, Hall makes it clear that Oscar Wilde and William Makepeace Thackeray influenced Beerbohm's writing style and that his best writing and caricatures came after 1910, when he resided in Italy with his wife, Florence. Beerbohm's radio broadcasts with the BBC are also excerpted here. Hall has written a perceptive and winning biography that should not be overlooked.-Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300097054
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 1.24 (d)

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