Max Beerbohm is one of those writers I’d like to read. Unfortunately, there are too many others I’d love to read, so even though I have a couple of Max books, they’re largely untouched.
Some day, though, some day. Always some day.
Joseph Epstein wrote a splendid essay/review of Beerbohm back in the 1980s that is in his collection such biographical essays, Partial Payments. I think I’ve read it twice now, and it’s loaded with great anecdotes and quotes, like Beerbohm’s observation about D.H. Lawrence:
He never realized, don’t you know–he never suspected that to be stark, staring mad is somewhat of a handicap to a writer.
Then again, I’ve always had a hard time considering Lawrence mad. A mild pornographer, yes, which always entail a dash of evil lunacy, but not off his rocker. Years ago, I read his Studies in Classic American Literature and was blown away. I suspect it’s one of the cleverest, most perceptive books about American literature ever written. I only “suspect” this, of course, because other than my many literature classes in high school and college (majored in history; minored in literature), I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book about American literature.
But regardless, Beerbohm is a classic and deserves to be read. A collection of his essays is going on my literary bucket list, between von Balthasar’s The Glory of the Lord and Owen Barfield’s Poetic Diction.
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