Zuleika Dobson

Or, An Oxford Love STory

With an Afterword by Sara Lodge

Part of The Neversink Library

Sir Henry Maximilian “Max” Beerbohm was, like his friend Oscar Wilde, such an acclaimed wit (and essayist, caricaturist, and parodist) that George Bernard Shaw dubbed him “the incomparable Max.” But Beerbohm’s comic masterpiece Zuleika Dobson—one of the Modern Library’s top 100 English-language novels of the twentieth century—is the only novel he ever wrote.

Strangely out of print in the United States for years, this crackling farce is nonetheless as piercing and fresh as when it first appeared in 1911: a hilarious dismantling of academia and privilege, and a swashbuckling lampooning of class systems and notions of masculine virtue.

The all-male campus of Oxford—Beerbohm’s alma mater—is a place where aesthetics holds sway above all else, and where witty intellectuals reign. Things haven’t changed for its privileged student body for years . . . until the beguiling music-hall prestidigitator Zuleika Dobson shows up.

The book’s marvelous prose dances along the line between reality and the absurd as students and dons alike fall at Zuleika’s feet, and she cuts a wide swath across the campus—until she encounters one young aristocrat for whom she is astonished to find she has feelings.

As Zuleika, and her creator, zero in on their targets, the book takes some surprising and dark twists on its way to a truly startling ending—an ending so striking that readers will understand why Virginia Woolf said that “Mr. Beerbohm in his way is perfect.”

MAX BEERBOHM was an English essayist, caricature artist, and parodist. He was born in London and went to Oxford University, though after finding renown through his writing he left the university without a degree. Among his best-known works are the short-story collection Seven Men and his many collections of caricatures, which led to his being branded the greatest English comic artist.

”Zuleika Dobson is the finest, and darkest, kind of satire: as intoxicating as champagne, as addictive as morphine, and as lethal as prussic acid.” —Robert McCrum, The Observer’s 100 Best Novels of all Time

“In luscious prose, clever-clogs Beerbohm takes monumental swipes at vacuous toffs, sheltered academics and scheming husband-seekers…in this 1911 bestseller. Entertaining and witty.” —the Daily Mail

“Zuleika Dobson is a highly accomplished and superbly written book whose spirit is farcical. It is a great work–the most consistent achievement of fantasy in our time…so funny and charming, so iridescent yet so profound.” —E.M. FORSTER

“Of comic novels that have quaffed the elixir of ’classic:’ Zuleika Dobson, by Max Beerbohm.” —CYNTHIA OZICK