The Incomparable Max

August 16th, 2013 § 0 comments

Does anyone read the works of Max Beerbohm anymore? Or look (with amusement) at his brilliant caricatures? HG has been a lifelong fan of this adroit and elegant personality, an English dandy of the Edwardian era. Dead for some 57 years, his prose (described as “lapidary” by one critic) still sparkles. As rain lashed Prince Edward Island, HG found solace sipping locally distilled pastis from the Myriad View Distillery and reading Mainly On the Air, a collection of Sir Max’s BBC radio broadcasts and essays. What is magical about this collection is that Beerbohm writes about forgotten writers, obscure playwrights, antique music hall songs and performers and makes HG smile in remembrance of a life HG never lived. There are wonderful archaic phrases and English words that have withered from disuse. Max makes them live again. George Bernard Shaw called him “The Incomparable Max.” Very apt. Beerbohm, during his lifetime, published many books of prose, fiction and dramatic criticism as well as volumes of caricatures. A nice introduction to his work and character is the charming book, Portrait of Max, by S.N. Behrman, a collection of articles Behrman did for The New Yorker Magazine.


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