Thursday, July 02, 2009

Max Beerbohm

Dandy, Humorist and Character.

Joseph Epstein has a tremendous essay on Beerbohm, later quoted in Chandler Burr's You or Someone Like You

Beerbohm "took out Freud with a single sentence: 'They were a tense and peculiar family, the Oedipuses, weren't they?'"

elsewhere in the essay itself;
How might one describe Max Beerbohm to someone who knows nothing about him? Well, for a start, one might imagine D.H. Lawrence. Picture the shagginess of Lawrence, his thick beard, his rough-cut clothes, his disdain for all the social and physical niceties. Recall his passionateness—his passion, so to say, for passion itself—his darkness, his gloom. Think back to his appeal to the primary instincts, his personal messianism, his refusal to deal with anything smaller than capital “D” Destiny. Do not neglect his humorlessness, his distaste for all that otherwise passed for being civilized, his blood theories and manifold roiling hatreds. Have you, then, D.H. Lawrence firmly in mind? Splendid. Now reverse all of Lawrence’s qualities and you will have a fair beginning notion of Max Beerbohm, who, after allowing that Lawrence was a man of “unquestionable genius,” felt it necessary to add, “he never realized, don’t you know—he never suspected that to be stark, staring mad is somewhat of a handicap to a writer.”


Chandler Burr said...

Hey Scott. Great quote, isn't it. I think I came across it in an Adam Gopnik piece, or Anthony Lane maybe.



scott said...

Here's the original story: