In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS in an unmarked grave. To fill out Smithers's complex publishing history, Nelson adds several appendices, including a valuable "Checklist of Leonard Smithers's Publications" by Nelson and Peter Mendes. In this illuminating biography of the most charismatic publisher to the Decadents , Nelson brings his ambitious trilogy to an impressive conclusion. Karl Beckson ______________ Brooklyn College, CUNY Two for the 1890s Mark Samuels Lasner. A Bibliography of Enoch Soames (1862-1897). Oxford: The Riverdale Press, 1999. 42 pp. £40.00 $60.00 James G. Nelson. A Checklist of Early Bodley Head Books: 1889-1894. Oxford: The Riverdale Press, 1999. 75 pp. £25.00 $40.00 ENOCH SOAMES is hardly an important literary figure. On the basis of what he wrote he can be dismissed as the least significant poet of the nineties. His reputation, nonetheless, has not only endured but has actually increased, as this first bibliography of Soames makes clear. Readers of Max Beerbohm's Seven Men (1919), in which he appears, find him quite memorable. An archetypal Decadent, Soames spent his days in the British Museum Reading Room and his nights sipping absinthe . Compounded of elements drawn from such diverse individuals as John Gray, Ernest Dowson, and W B. Yeats, Soames took origin in Beerbohm's imagination, where he was adulated as the author of two exquisite volumes of poetry, Negations (1892) and Fungoids (1894). Since both works received a less than enthusiastic critical reception, and, according to Beerbohm, only three copies were actually sold, he provides several extracts from each, amusing parodies of the excesses and absurdities found in some of the poetry of the period. In his spoof, Beerbohm portrays himself as a callow tyro in the world of letters impressed with Soames's "Promethean endeavors" and his apparent indifference to lasting fame. But the insouciant poet is really concerned with what his reputation might be in a more critically astute period. Accordingly, he enters into a Faustian pact with the devil to be projected one hundred years into the future to bask in the esteem posterity is certain to hold him. He returns sorrowful and disconsolate, not only because he learns he has been consigned among the never-read but, even worse, that he was simply a figment in Beerbohm's imagination. As Soames is being dragged off to hell, he implores Max to persuade the world that he really did exist. Not one to ignore a dying request, 217 ELT 44 : 2 2001 Beerbohm reluctantly acquiesces. After all, both in and out of his sketch of Soames, Beerbohm insisted on the poet's actuality, going so far as to depict him in caricatures and to insinuate an entry on Soames into a scholarly bibliography of British diaries. Needless to add, perhaps, Soames did not make an appearance in the Reading Room on 3 June 1997, as he was supposed to, though it is alleged that there were those who hoped to see him materialize in his gray waterproof cape and soft black hat "of Bohemian intent." Instead of Soames's reappearance, we have to settle for this bibliography . Its compiler may label his assiduous labor "nothing more than an initial, tentative attempt," but Soames himself would be impressed with Lasner's volume. In it, Soames's works, published and unpublished, are described in detail. Also listed are all actual references to Soames and his work found in various articles and books. Of special interest is an iconography of some twenty-two pen and ink drawings, woodcuts, oils, watercolors, pastels, and lithographs completed by such artists as Beerbohm himself, Beardsley, William Rothenstein, and Charles Hazelwood Shannon. Laser laments that no works of Soames are held by any institutional libraries in Britain or the States, nor are any listed in the British General Catalogue, in the National Union Catalogue, or in the massive OCLC or RLIN databases. With tongue still in cheek he adds that the very few copies in private collections seem to have disappeared under inexplicable circumstances. Copies in the British Museum must have been destroyed by "enemy action" during World War II. Now and again, it must be admitted, the admixture of fancy and fact proves a bit disconcerting . A clever...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 217-219
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.