The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm (Paperback)
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.”
About the Author
Max Beerbohm (1872–1956) was born in London and studied at Oxford. He published his first collection of essays, The Works of Max Beerbohm, in 1896 and soon developed a reputation as a brilliant caricaturist and critic. He was married to the American actress Florence Kahn and lived in Rapallo, Italy, for most of his later life. In addition to The Prince of Minor Writers, NYRB Classics publishes Beerbohm’s Seven Men, a short-story collection.
Phillip Lopate is the author of the essay collections Against Joie de Vivre, Bachelorhood, Being with Children, Portrait of My Body, and Totally, Tenderly, Tragically; and of the novels The Rug Merchant and Confessions of a Summer. His most recent books are Portrait Inside My Head and To Show and to Tell.
"As curmudgeons go, Beerbohm was a gentle and self-effacing one. There are very funny broadsides here against walking, against the cult of children, against writing boring letters and against literary toadyism...an intimate kind of warmth does blossom beneath the surface of many of these pieces; he is a man with a full and rippling heart." —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“The great Max Beerbohm may be the paradigm of the minor writer and the happy man. In other words: Max Beerbohm was a good and gracious soul.” —Roberto Bolaño, Between Parentheses
"The essayist and caricaturist Max Beerbohm was one of the great figures of the late Victorian and Edwardian era in London...People who love reading will always love reading Max, because he mocked so wisely, and read so well." —Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
“Beerbohm’s prose style—clever, fast-paced, and sometimes on the verge of anarchy—balances humor with style, and provides a master class in using irony—the greatest weapon in Beerbohm’s arsenal—to look at high culture.” —Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
“[Beerbohm’s] works provide a glimpse of daily life in the 19th and early 20th centuries, revealing that while manners and dress have evolved, human nature certainly has not...Beerbohm’s essays deserve to be revisited today...his writing is humorous and self-deprecating.” —Publishers Weekly
“Beerbohm never ceases to entertain with the eloquence of his prose and his dry humor. In a trite, yet appropriate, phrase, he is a master of his craft. His words are beautiful and his thoughts are oftentimes quite profound and universal, relevant not just to late nineteenth/early twentieth century Britain, but to all times…His writing always feels fresh and its essence true…Beerbohm holds an insatiable imagination… Rescue it, read it, and treasure it.” —Kenyon Ellefson, Portland Book Review