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313 On the whole, this is a very just brief appraisal of Moore's work. One can only applaud Mr. Jeffares' conclusion that "Moore's achievement needs reconsideration," that "his merits should not be ignored," and that "he was a man in whom imagination and narrative skill, capacity for industrious work and artistic conscience so fused that he produced fiction and fictionalized autobiography which has the timeless quality of all great art." Purdue University H. E. Gerber 6. Max Beerbohm. LETTERS TO REGGIE TURNER, ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. Phi la and NY: Lippincott, I965. Admirers of Max Beerbohm must be in Rupert Hart-Davis' debe for presenting this attractive collection of letters to "dear Reg." Although the letters span 47 years (1891-1938), however, students who turn to them for enlightenment about the period, or Max's inner life will probably be disappointed, for, as he reveals himself here, Max was neither a realistic chronicler of his times nor one to bare his soul—even in epistolary solitude. Perhaps the closest he comes to a confession is this statement about the "small distorted career" he had by 1893: "After all what have I done since I came to Oxford with power to make myself? What have my pleasures been? To dress carefully, to lie in a canoe in the summer and read minor verse by the fire in the winter, to talk of Oscar, to sit down to dinner looking forward to rising from it drunk, to draw more or less amusing caricatures—a few friends, a few theatres and music-halls and a few cigarettes a day—and there you have my life." But such passages no more reveal the true Max than his grotesque caricature of Reggie (opposite p. I76) reveals the true Reggie. But of course this willful distortion of reality is part of Max's fascination for us. His coverage of the Oscar Wilde scandal makes disappointing reading, especially when we remember Max's genuine affection and admiration for him. Since Max was in Chicago when the storm broke, his initial reaction can be overlooked, but a later account concentrates solely on Wilde's performance at the trial. Nowhere does Max disclose anything that heightens our understanding of the issues and personalities involved in this catastrophe. It is easy to criticize the flawless superficiality of these letters, but something holds us back; perhaps a sense that Max was writing not to inform but to entertain. Perhaps too we withhold sharper words because of the style that the "gentle-hearted" Max displays. In the end, this book is like Max's writings and drawings: it sheds little light, but provides us ample opportunity for innocent merriment. Purdue University W. Eugene Davis ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
p. 313
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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