Zuleika Dobson, Or, An Oxford Love Story (Dodo Press)
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.
Our eponymous heroine is a personification of feminine desirability – ‘the toast of two hemispheres’, she has already, before the novel begins, ‘ranged in triumphal nomady’ around the capitals of Europe; Paris falls prostrate at her feet, Madrid throws a vast bullfight in her honour, the Grand Duke of Petersburg falls in love with her, and the Pope l ...more
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 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
Zuleika Dobson is simply the most beautiful young woman around. Invited for a vis ...more
Zuleika Dobson is supposedly a comic story about a femme fatale. The Duke of Dorset and hundreds of Oxford undergraduates killed themselves for love of Zuleika, a vain and self-serving young lady who thrived on self-display and the swooning admiration of young men.
The tone of this classic was playful and snobbish. The story deliberately poked fun at preten ...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
A young beautiful woman visits her grandfather who is warden of an Oxford college. Everyone at the college falls in love with her, except one whom she falls in love with. The book is a very different kind of hu ...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.
I fail to see how anyone could find the character of Zuleika charming, but I am told th ...more
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
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
The author claims, in 1946, that it was not written as a satire. He said he had written it as a ...more
This would have been thoroughly enjoyable if I wasn’t the kind of person who eavesdrops at conversations and compulsively watches an item number only to wince at every ‘problematic’ second. The most grating part of Moby Dick wasn’t the encyclopaedic block quote(s) but the section that makes a go of producing what we would call universality – the ‘Hindoo’ and the ‘Scotsman’ and the ‘Chinaman’ + 15 other nationalities each having two whole lines of defining dialogue in a section comprised whol ...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