The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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2014/15 Group Reads - Archives > Zuleika Dobson - Ch 21 - 24

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message 1: by Silver (new)

Silver The final chapters of the book


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments So now Zuleika is off to Cambridge. Is it her goal to get all the Cambridge students to commit suicide for her, too? Will the entire university population of England perish on behalf of Zuleika?


message 3: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 670 comments I believe that is her goal, yes. She seems to imagine that it will do away with the momentary feelings of discomfort brought on by the suicide of Noaks etc. I greatly enjoyed the unfolding of the Warden's character--seems to be a common genetic/behavioral disposition in that family!


message 4: by Madge UK (last edited Apr 26, 2015 05:38PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments I see the drownings as an allegory for the loss of commonsense amongst the student population. Beerbohm's criticism of love which gets out of hand and subsumes reality. Like reading too many romantic novels and thinking that is what life is really like.

Or his 'Oxford Love Story' could be a criticism of the excesses of academic life and silly traditions and Zuleika's departure for Cambridge a hint that it has the same excesses and silly traditions?


message 5: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2201 comments Mod
I liked the ending, I couldn't believe Zuleika would go to a convent. I was glad to get back to her as I was pretty tired of the duke.


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Robin wrote: "I liked the ending, I couldn't believe Zuleika would go to a convent."

I agree. That was pretty silly. It was very much in character, though, since she had a mercurial, almost ADHD personality.


message 7: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
A great example of group think and narcissism. I was surprised by the Warden's experience with women, and his having the same definition of love as Zuleika. All in all, the book was too over the top for me to find it enjoyable.


message 8: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments I felt much the same Debs.


message 9: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2201 comments Mod
I agree but it was a nice change.


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Deborah wrote: "A great example of group think and narcissism. I was surprised by the Warden's experience with women, and his having the same definition of love as Zuleika. All in all, the book was too over the t..."

It wasn't the over the top aspect of it that I found not enjoyable, it was the prolonged angst passages. If it had been shortened to a long short story I would have been amused by it, but it just went on and on and on with nothing much happening, and the nothing much wasn't interesting enough to sustain the narrative for me.

Perhaps it would have done best as a fiction piece in Punch.


message 11: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1869 comments Mod
I agreed with whoever suggested that it might have worked better as a short story a la Oscar Wilde.

This could also work as a wonderful satire on celebrity culture if it were written today. The over the top adulation of Zuleika which, I think, leads to such extreme self-centredness that her main concern on the deaths of all the Oxford undergraduates is that there is no one to admire her any longer, her secondary concern being whether everyone would realize that they all died for love of her.

It was nice to see Katie get a little bit of her own back at Zuleika, even if she showed very questionable taste in love. Again, I loved the mercenary touch shown by both Katie and Melisande on considering what to do with their pearls, given to them as tokens of affection or as a means of spiting the Duke, which they both intend to use to set up their respective establishments.

Did anyone feel the subtitle, An Oxford Love Story, referred to Beerbohm's love of the University, despite the many satire-worthy people and traditions which inhabit it?


message 12: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments A love-hate relationship perhaps, he saw its flaws.


message 13: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmalaybourn) | 298 comments Frances wrote: "Did anyone feel the subtitle, An Oxford Love Story, referred to Beerbohm's love of the University, despite the many satire-worthy people and traditions which inhabit it? "

Yes - now that you mention it, the actual place was described with affection, even if some of the people and traditions weren't.

I was a bit disturbed by the portrayal of Noaks, the lower-class student who can't live up the standards of the others. Very much of its time I guess.


message 14: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments I'm glad to see I concur with you in that this could have worked better as a short story; by the time I'd lost track of the discussion threads and the chapter numbers (entirely my brain's fault, nothing to do with the moderating!) I was willing the novel to end.

As many have commented, Oscar Wilde devised similarly absurd, over-the-top plots but their snappiness keeps you believing.


message 15: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments Emma wrote: "I was a bit disturbed by the portrayal of Noaks, the lower-class student who can't live up the standards of the others. Very much of its time I guess."

....And I'm not convinced things have changed that much, unfortunately.


message 16: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Pip wrote: "I'm glad to see I concur with you in that this could have worked better as a short story; by the time I'd lost track of the discussion threads and the chapter numbers (entirely my brain's fault, no..."

I agree, Wilde somehow manages to make the absurd fun and believable. Beerbohm not so much.


message 17: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 751 comments Also Saki. He does a great job with the absurd.


message 18: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments Renee wrote: "Also Saki. He does a great job with the absurd."

To read! Soon!


message 19: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Pip wrote: "Renee wrote: "Also Saki. He does a great job with the absurd."

To read! Soon!"


Yes! We read some of him in the Western Canon and had a lot of fun.


message 20: by Pip (new)

Pip | 468 comments Everyman wrote: "Pip wrote: "Renee wrote: "Also Saki. He does a great job with the absurd."

To read! Soon!"

Yes! We read some of him in the Western Canon and had a lot of fun."


I'm sad I missed that. I wasn't paying enough attention to the upcoming reads after Joyce :-(


message 21: by Silver (new)

Silver For the most part I enjoyed this book. Parts of it I thought were quite entertaining and it was certainly different, but I agree with the general consensus that there were episodes which I felt did drag on too long.

I was surprised and amused by the Uncle's revelation of his own past. I also enjoyed the ending. In spite of what one might think of her intentions and the possibility of her seeking to inspire more suicides it would seem a shame for her to be locked away in a convent and I don't imagine she would be happy in such a life.


message 22: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Silver wrote: "For the most part I enjoyed this book. Parts of it I thought were quite entertaining and it was certainly different, but I agree with the general consensus that there were episodes which I felt di..."

I felt the same, Silver. At first, I wasn't thrilled with the book, but about halfway through, I started to get into it. And I liked the ending....off she goes to create more havoc at Cambridge.

Was it one of the most well written books of this time period? No, but it was different and a bit amusing.


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Lynnm wrote: "Was it one of the most well written books of this time period? No, but it was different and a bit amusing. "

Agree and agree.


message 24: by Yannick (new)

Yannick (tedhalcyon) | 5 comments I finally finished as well and I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one who found certain chapters "gassy". But the story after all was a nice change to the usual. I like how on the last page, Zuleika got back into her old bossy role which she lost after her second encounter with the Duke. The one quote from the book that for me summarises the whole story is: "It is easier for a woman to change her opinion of a man than for him to change his opinion of himself."


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