Collected Verse

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Archon Books, 1994 - Poetry - 221 pages
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"Max, " or as he is sometimes known, Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956), was a sophisticated caricaturist with both pen and drawing pencil. England's supreme parodist, he was not above having literary fun. Max took his verses seriously enough to jot them in flyleaves or the margins of borrowed books. He versified eloquently on stray scraps of paper. One was even discovered in his top hat. To the editor there are obvious difficulties in collecting such an oeuvre to offer a full text. These have been heroically overcome by J. G. Riewald, the leading Beerbohm authority, for this definitive anthology of Max Beerbohm's poetry. Of the 138 poems here, fifty-one have never been collected before, and eighty-seven were not even published in Max's lifetime. There are variant readings in manuscript copies, including those written by Max himself, so Dr. Riewald's full textual notes will be welcome - particularly as Max didn't consider "accidentals" of punctuation and capitalization to be accidental at all. Comprehensive historical and biographical commentary, and glosses where necessary, provide any reader with necessary background, and twenty-nine caricatures match illustration to poem so Max can be seen at his best in both mediums. A unique and delightful humor - mocking elegance, mischievous wordplay, pricks that do not seriously wound - is always fundamental to Max. His is the art of incongruity, mixing trivia with high seriousness to diffuse intellectual gaiety. Sir Max's poetry combines first-rate satire with persiflage, and clever exercises in pastiche with pure fun. And it is all here.

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Carmen Becceriense
Elegiac couplets on Charterhouse
On W S Gilbert

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About the author (1994)

Henry Maximilian Beerbohm was born in England in 1872. In his twenties, Beerbohm became part of the literary circle of Oscar Wilde, and in 1898 he became the drama critic for the Saturday Review. His predecessor George Bernard Shaw recommended Beerbohm for this position supposedly because of Beerbohm's attacks on Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, one of Shaw's own works. It was also Shaw who gave Beerbohm the nickname The Incomparable Max. Beerbohm was known primarily for his sharp wit, often expressed in parody and satire, His first book The Works of Max Beerbohm was a collection of essays in a mock-scholarly format. Other essay collections include Yet Again, And Even Now, Around Theatres, and Mainly on the Air, which was based on a series of radio broadcasts. His fiction includes one novel titled Zuleika Dobson: An Oxford Love Story and numerous short stories. Many of his short stories have been published in such collections as The Happy Hypocrite, Seven Men, and A Variety of Things. Beerbohm's flair for humor and parody was carried over into his art. He was a gifted caricaturist and was as well known for his drawings as for his writing. His drawings have been published in the collections Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen, The Second Childhood of John Bull, A Book of Caricatures, Fifty Caricatures, Rosetti and His Circle, and Things Old and New. Beerbohm resigned from the Saturday Review in 1910 when he married Florence Kahn, an American actress, and they retired to Rapallo, Italy. The Beerbohms returned to England for several years during World War II, but in 1947 they returned to Rapallo where Beerbohm died in 1956. Beerbohm was knighted in 1939.

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