Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Zuleika Dobson (1911) by Max Beerbohm

Zuleika Dobson is a novel with a riotous story and a playful narrative.

It follows the story of Zuleika on a visit to her grandfather, the Warden of the fictitious Judas College in Oxford. Divinely beautiful, every student in Oxford falls madly in love with her (including the hilariously egotistical Duke of Dorset, whose death will be foretold by the hooting of two black owls on the battlements of his family home). However, she rejects them all. Driven to despair, the students go to increasingly strange and amusing lengths to prove their devotion to her.

A facetious satire of Edwardian upper class life, the book is rich in comedy, absurdity, and even the supernatural – in one memorable chapter the narrator unexpectedly introduces a number of ghosts who comment on and attempt to interact with the living characters who are oblivious to them.

Zuleika Dobson makes for an unpredictable and entertaining read by an author who embraced all the playful extravagance of his own imagination in both story and style.

The book is available on Project Gutenberg via the Library Catalogue.

Review by Gwent Kent