Originally published in 1911, Max Beerbohm's sparklingly wicked satire concerns the unlikely events that occur when a femme f...more
My, my, my, my, my.
Not one for the casual reader.
Briefly: My, my, my, my, my.
Less briefly: A tale told in high register, of arrogance and honor, the fine lines between conflicting emotions, irony, Oxford University, the righteous and the self-righteous, the femme fatale, fantasy meeting reality, anticipatory metafiction—wondrously frustrating and frequently comic, keep a dictionary at hand (a good one). Cormac McCarthy meets Jane Austen, or Bartleby, the Scrivener in extremis.
There were a number of novels about femme fatales* during that era, after Benson's Dodo, and Hope's (much more witty and readable) Dolly Dialogues--and at the serious end, Henry James' various lapidary, even microscopic looks at females who destroyed men's lives--but this one was meant to be satire. Zuleika, born poor, was an unhappy governess, ignorant and uninterest...more
Written in an overwrought style that parodies the pomposity and bloviation of academese, yet studded with a few true gems (I thought, when I read it the first time, that the line "Death cancels all engagements" was quoting something, but it actually appears to be a Beerbohm original), Zuleika Dobson follows the titular heroine as she.....more
The fact that the Modern Library had to recently print this edition, otherwise no one would have ever found it, shows its obscurity (now available at your local used bookstore). I mean no one reads Ulysses and you can find that anywhere.
A tale of the beautiful, up from the working class Zuleika, granddaughter of the Oxford dean, who visits the college and has everyone fall in love with her.
This satire of...more
The story is about a young woman who is very beautiful; she has a successful conjuring act (although she is not very good at it)....more
The title character is this real hot tamale who arrives in Oxford to visit her grandfather, the Warden of the college. In the short ti...more
On another small table stood Zuleika's library. Both books were in covers of dull gold. On the back of one cover BRADSHAW, in beryls, was encrusted; on the back of the other, A.B.C. GUIDE, in amethysts, beryls, chrysoprases, and garnets.I could not miss that her "library" contained all of two books. Not being British, I missed that the two books were railway guides.
I may have missed some other wit as well, but even 100 years...more
In truth, I think it misleading to call Zuleika Dobson a novel. It has les...more
"Death cancels all engagements," in this morbidly funny satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. When a beautiful magician swears she can love no man susceptible to her charms she sets off a dangerous taste for suicide among the college boys.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
The author claims, in 1946, that it was not written as a satire. He said he had written it as a...more
So, I’ll say the book is f-ing brilliant, I’ll outline the story and c...more
The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called literary "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label
Essay #41: Zuleika Dobson, by Max Beerbohm (1911)
The story in a nutshell:
Originally published in 1911, Max Beerbohm's novella-sized Zuleika Dobson is in act...more
Beerbohm's writing is strikingly modern, he occasionally breaks the third wall and speaks directly to the reader. His humor is often laugh out loud funny and endearing without ever being schmaltzy. There is nothing stiff about this British book, many characters suffer from a certain rigi...more
I wish a professor would use this quotation as his email signature: "Generations of undergraduates had said that Oxford would be all very well but for the dons. Do you suppose that the dons had had no answering sentiment?"
a treatise on manners and vanity,
a science fiction novel because of the speaking apparitions, the symbolic owls and the moody pearls,
a study on religion concerning self-will and the Olympian gods,
a love story,
a mockery of fashion, speech and nationality (especially the Scots),
or just an author grinning like mad, putting us on and and writing out of pique.
I think Zuleika Dobson suffers from the fact that modern readers cannot read it from a 1911 viewpoint. In a world filled with people who are famous despite their mediocrity -- and somet...more
I found her story equal parts hilarious and annoying, fascinatingly experimental, self-aware, disturbing, claustrophobic, and beautiful. In other words, there's no simple way to slap 3 stars on this puppy and move on. On the one hand it's a novel of manners, quintessentially British, on...more
It was certainly worth the wait, I should have read it sooner, but this is the first time I have come across a copy of the book.
I read it at about ten pages a day on the metro and it is rather battered now. It was really the second half that I enjoyed more; the humour m...more
I also feel obligated to state that, if you are the kind of person who reads entirely for plot, it might not be worthwhile to read Zuleika Dobson, or an Oxford Love Story.
If you don't come into Zuleika Dobson with an analytic eye, it seems to be boring, nonsensical an...more
This is a satirical take on all the sappy, ridiculous love stories (twilight, anyone?) that have always been written and will continue ad infinitum.
The set-up: Zuleika is...more
Imagine the vainglorious woman so self-involved as to be blinded to reality. Add an arrogant and intentionally unavailable young man, a splash of humor and impeccably timed story...more