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AN NYRB CLASSICS ORIGINAL Virginia Woolf called Max Beerbohm "the prince" of essayists, F. W. Dupee praised his "whim of iron" and "cleverness amounting to genius," while Beerbohm himself noted that "only the insane take themselves quite seriously." From his precocious debut as a dandy in 1890s Oxford until he put his pen aside in the aftermath of World War II, Beerbohm was recognized as an incomparable observer of modern life and an essayist whose voice was always and only his own. Here Phillip Lopate, one of the finest essayists of our day, has selected the finest of Beerbohm's essays. Whether writing about the vogue for Russian writers, laughter and philosophy, dandies, or George Bernard Shaw, Beerbohm is as unpredictable as he is unfailingly witty and wise. As Lopate writes, "Today . . . it becomes all the more necessary to ponder how Beerbohm performed the delicate operation of displaying so much personality without lapsing into sticky confession."
Ere it had yet stopped, the door of one carriage flew open, and from it, in a white travelling dress, in a toque a-twinkle with fine diamonds, a lithe and radiant creature slipped nimbly down to the platform.
One woman's beauty fells the whole of Oxford in this sidesplitting classic campus novel.Nobody could predict the consequences when ravishing Zuleika Dobson arrives at Oxford, to visit her grandfather, the college warden. Formerly a governess, she has landed on the occupation of prestidigitator, and thanks to her overwhelming beauty--and to a lesser extent her professional talents--she takes the town by storm, gaining admittance to her grandfather's college. It is there, at the institution inspired by Beerbohm's own alma mater, that she falls in love the Duke of Dorset, who duly adores her in return. Ever aware of appearances, however, Zuleika breaks the Duke's heart when she decides that she must abandon the match. The epidemic of heartache that proceeds to overcome the academic town makes for some of the best comic writing in the history of English literature.