The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays



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 S 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 Necessary To Ponder How Beerbohm Performed The Delicate Operation Of Displaying So Much Personality Without Lapsing Into Sticky ConfessionThe Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays

Sir Henry Maximilian Max Beerbohm was an English essayist, parodist and caricaturist.

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  • Paperback
  • 391 pages
  • The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays
  • Max Beerbohm
  • 20 September 2019
  • 1590178289

10 thoughts on “The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays

  1. says:

    A public crowd, because of a lack of a broad impersonal humanity in me, rather insulates than absorbs me Amidst the guffaws of a thousand strangers I become unnaturally graveMax Beerbohm, from LaughterWilliam Newzam Prior Nicholson, Portrait of Sir Max Beerbohm, 1905 Primarily associated with the Edwardian period, theatre critic, author and caricaturist Max Beerbohm managed to live well into the 1950 s After announcing himself as a member of the then in vogue dandy crowd of 1890 sA public crowd, because of a lack of a broad impersonal humanity in me, rather insulates than absorbs me Amidst the guffaws of a thousand strangers I become unnaturally graveMax Beerbohm, from LaughterWilliam Newzam Prior Nicholson, Portrait of Sir Max Beerbohm, 1905 Primarily associated with the Edwardian period, theatre critic, author and caricaturist Max Beerbohm managed to live well into the 1950 s After announcing himself as a member of the then in vogue dandy crowd of 1890 s London among such enfants terriblesas Oscar Wilde, he quickly even if just partially distanced himself from them and carved out an identity of his own that of the rugged individualist and amused spectator, free to teasingly criticize whomever and whatever he pleased So he did, and succeeded wildly in this pursuit, for roughly thirty years With an air of erudite detachment Oxford education, can t beat it , and aided by a sense of self deprecating, dryly witty humour, he deftly scrutinized modish fads, stupefying societal customs, creeping modernity and even the on the whole banal nature of the human species itself He managed to achieve this while still exuding affability, showing respect for the intelligence of and, perhaps surprisingly so, confiding in his audience i.e not coming of as an elitist prat drenched in misanthropy Yet Beerbohm doesn t make it easy One moment he seems approachable and intimate, at another he retreats into ambiguous aloofness, proclaiming unreachability, while still keeping the reader hungry forAdmittedly, this is a mighty tough trick to pull off for any essayist Sadly, his voice in written form fell eerily silent for the last 30 years or so of his life The only contact with the broader public which Beerbohm felt like engaging in, were a series of broadcasts he did for BBC radio during the years of WW II In 1956, at the blessed age of 83, he passed away in Rapallo, Italy The Prince of Minor Writersturned out to be quite the collection A veritable treasure trove of stylish magnificence in prose Editor and essayist Phillip Lopate did an admirable job collating the very best of the oft neglected essays of Beerbohm, which were previously spread out across multiple volumes most of them now long out of print After the incisive for newcomers very much needed introduction, we see both Beerbohm the critic and the multifaceted man in all their unfettered glory It s as close to an autobiography we will ever get of him in a single volume.It must be said, Beerbohm often is an absolute riot to read For instance, Old Maxie had an odd sort of fascination with fires, to the extent that he abhorred those awfully gallant fire brigades, which invariably deprived him of his enjoyment of them I couldn t resist quoting from the half serious essay An Infamous Brigade , about the burning down of a wharfYet, under my very eyes, there was an organised attempt to spoil this fair thing Persons in absurd helmets ran about pouring cascades of cold water on the flames These, my cabman told me, were firemen I jumped out and, catching one of them by the arm, bade him sharply desist from his vandalism I told him that I had driven miles to see this fire, that great crowds of Londoners, poor people with few joys, were there to see it also, and I asked him who was he that he should dare to disappoint us Without answering my arguments, he warned me that I must not interfere with him in the discharge of his duty The silly crowd would not uphold me, and I fell back, surreptitiously slitting his water hose with a penknife But what could I avail The cascades around me were ceaseless, innumerable Every moment dashed up fresh firemen, imprecant on cars, behind wild horses In less than an hour, all was over The flames had been surrounded, driven back and stricken, at length, as they lay, cowering and desperate, in their last embers But, as they died, there leapt from my hearts core a great residuary flame of indignation It is still burningThis is just one of many examples of Beerbohm s mischievously humourous passages springing up in wild abandon throughout Luckily, this collection touches on a great variety of subjects, not all going for mere comedic effect Hispersonal, introspective essays and the tributes to deceased friends or artists like Aubrey Beardsley and Algernon Charles Swinburne I found particularly touching One initial concern of mine was that the antequated prose and references to late 19th early 20th century specific subjects would hamper my enjoyment, but those fears were soon laid to rest Once in a while I was indeed forced to resort to a quick internet search which singular creature these days knows what the Forster Act is but it didn t irk me too much Sure, strategically inserted explanatory notes perhaps could have served well at certain places, but it doesn t dramatically degrade its value as a book We should be thankful this exists in the first place, given the niche audience for essay writing Both as a time capsule of a lost, to us seemingly alien era and a revealing portrait of a masterful, gravely neglected essayist, The Prince of Minor Writersserves as an indispensable publication Good form, New York Review Books Good form indeed

  2. says:

    Late 19th early 20th century humorist s essays holds up over time, and are still pretty funnythan a century after they were written.

  3. says:

    Quite excellent selection of essays by I man I d never heard of until this volume was reviewed in, naturally enough, National Review I wonder window into England of the late Victorian, Edwardian, and Great War eras I in many ways feel a greater connection to Britain of that era than to my own country of the same That is all the stronger due to Beerbohm s essays He writes on the arts, travel, politics, daily life, even the naming of streets in London You needn t read straight through, as I Quite excellent selection of essays by I man I d never heard of until this volume was reviewed in, naturally enough, National Review I wonder window into England of the late Victorian, Edwardian, and Great War eras I in many ways feel a greater connection to Britain of that era than to my own country of the same That is all the stronger due to Beerbohm s essays He writes on the arts, travel, politics, daily life, even the naming of streets in London You needn t read straight through, as I did even a random opening of the book will direct you to something worth your time.And, oh, what a menagerie of new or forgotten words Here s just the ones I bothered to underline clomb past tense of climbmantilla a short mantle or light capeliefergladly willinglyagley off the right line awry wrongdefalcation misappropriation of money or funds held by an official, trustee, or other fiduciary clinquant glittering, especially with tinsel decked with garish fineryapolaustic devoted to enjoyment devoted to enjoymentmaral of, relating to, or suggestive of marble or a marble statue especially in coldness or aloofnesscresset an iron vessel or basket used for holding an illuminant as oil and mounted as a torch or suspended as a lanterngallimaufry hodgepodgeverger a church official who keeps order during services or serves as an usher or a sacristan or a tour guide, evidently hebdomadal weekly really should have known this comes from the Latin for seven think heptathlon

  4. says:

    He s a hell of a writer Who else can spin a longish and fascinating essay out of staring at a fire Still, sometimes a little goes a long way The prose is rich This is not a book to be gobbled down but savored over time The last section is particularly interesting It s his theater reviews His thoughts on Shaw and Ibsen are spot on, even a century later, and asa writer he s so good that a review of a play stands up a century later.But even with this praise, be aware some of the essays bo He s a hell of a writer Who else can spin a longish and fascinating essay out of staring at a fire Still, sometimes a little goes a long way The prose is rich This is not a book to be gobbled down but savored over time The last section is particularly interesting It s his theater reviews His thoughts on Shaw and Ibsen are spot on, even a century later, and asa writer he s so good that a review of a play stands up a century later.But even with this praise, be aware some of the essays bore one A mixed bag, but on the whole very good

  5. says:

    Max Wow, max Wowsers Wowsers indeed It s, they, it s I mean, like, how enjoyable Adroit Very adroit And funny Funny as hellIt s like that DaveFostWallec prose that reads so well as thought..to an extent, I guess Max tap dances whereas DFW s work isballetic Max s observations of human character still very much tuned to the key of now I m not much for compliments I m not much beter form ribbing and or razzing See, that s a Beerbohm quip I gave the ol paraphrase twirl.It s a b Max Wow, max Wowsers Wowsers indeed It s, they, it s I mean, like, how enjoyable Adroit Very adroit And funny Funny as hellIt s like that DaveFostWallec prose that reads so well as thought..to an extent, I guess Max tap dances whereas DFW s work isballetic Max s observations of human character still very much tuned to the key of now I m not much for compliments I m not much beter form ribbing and or razzing See, that s a Beerbohm quip I gave the ol paraphrase twirl.It s a book of em It s, it s, all, woof, so good

  6. says:

    If you can comfortably read one hundred year old British prose, then you ll probably enjoy this collection of Beerbohm essays The sentences are long but the phrases are compacted to gem like hardness There can be so many layers of irony that it is often difficult to know whether the author is serious, semi serious or only conditionally serious Most 21st century readers will find the social customs of that time and place strange and confusing, but if Trollope and Thackeray are your cup of tea, If you can comfortably read one hundred year old British prose, then you ll probably enjoy this collection of Beerbohm essays The sentences are long but the phrases are compacted to gem like hardness There can be so many layers of irony that it is often difficult to know whether the author is serious, semi serious or only conditionally serious Most 21st century readers will find the social customs of that time and place strange and confusing, but if Trollope and Thackeray are your cup of tea, then you ll like Beerbohm even though he s a generation or two later Those who study English prose seriously will find treasures here, but not much that can be transported to the present day The pieces included range from humor and whimsy to straight memoir The account of Beerbohm s visits to the aged and deaf Swinburne is moving even if, like me, you are unfamiliar with his poems

  7. says:

    Very good, some material out of date, snatches of subtle and good sarcasm.

  8. says:

    Like many collections, this one reacts best to being sampled rather than read through Handled in this way, it is excellent Mr Beerbohm was an acclaimed essayist, critic and even cartoonist, and perhaps the early twentieth century s foremost practitioner of the familiar essay It could be that the best familiar essayist of our era, Joseph Epstein, owes some of his skill to studying Mr Beerbohm s technique In my opinion, though, Epstein is far superior because his style is less precious and Like many collections, this one reacts best to being sampled rather than read through Handled in this way, it is excellent Mr Beerbohm was an acclaimed essayist, critic and even cartoonist, and perhaps the early twentieth century s foremost practitioner of the familiar essay It could be that the best familiar essayist of our era, Joseph Epstein, owes some of his skill to studying Mr Beerbohm s technique In my opinion, though, Epstein is far superior because his style is less precious and self conscious, but then that s only my preference and certainly not the last word Perhaps the differences between the two are accounted forby the hundred or so years and and nationalities which separate them However you take him, though, Beerbohm is brilliant and his constructions are scintillating, polished and informative

  9. says:

    Some i liked, a few I didn t There s a few that are hilarious, but a few that probably would appealto serious Anglophiles than myself As a prose stylist, Beerbohm is particularly old fashioned, but in a way that s charming in small doses Which is how if recommend this read an essay in the bookstore before you buy it, see what it does for you As the lay says, your mileage may vary

  10. says:

    As with the author s caricatures, the cover photo conveys just the slightest sense of the sharp claws hidden under the exquisite tailoring The essay on Doctor Johnson and the obscure cleric is a marvel And I can t get enough of the nyrb books, the design is delightful.

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