Saturday, April 02, 2005

"A Vain Child" by Max Beerbohm

The grotesque 19th century children's book, Struwwelpeter (Slovenly or Shockheaded Peter) by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, is the subject of this odd little bagatelle, in form somewhere between fabricated anecdote and fictionalized memoir. The story of a young boy lost in books with his head in the clouds certainly must have appealed to young Master Max! Read by Scoot.

Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm straddled the nineteenth and twentieth century with his satiric novels, such as the wildly funny Zuleika Dobson, and shorter essays and parodies such as this one, which is actually a self-parody in the best Beerbohmian style. While still a college student, he contributed to the infamous Yellow Book of the Wilde era. Though very English, he was partly German in ancestry, married an American, and spent the latter half of his life in Italy--so one could justifiably call him a humorist of international proportions.

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