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 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
In truth, I think it misleading to call Zuleika Dobson a novel. It has les...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
"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
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.
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
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
It stars Zuleika Dobson, a beautiful young woman who visits her uncle at Oxford. While visiting she manages to make every young man on the Oxford campus fall in love with her. She is a siren and apparently does this quite often. However, her affections are not returned. She can only love one who does not lo...more
While this famous comic novel has much in common with the writing of Oscar Wilde and Saki, it has at its centre an extravagent gesture all of its own, far beyond anything attempted by these other writers.
Zuleika is an incredibly beautiful young woman, famous as a conjurer, who visits Oxford as the guest of her grandfather, Warden of Judas College. There she meets the extremely eligible Duke of Dorset, an undergraduate, who leads the other studen...more
The book started out well enough. Mr. Beerbohm is nothing if not a master craftsman...more
One of the two stars given is for vocabulary - I ended up looking up about 50 words! The text could be read without this but I love vocabulary and dictionaries.
Minus a star for the conceit of telling us what is bound to happen quite early in the story and then not real...more