Max Beerbohm

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Sir Max Beerbohm

Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm (24 August 187220 May 1956) was an English writer and caricaturist.

Sourced[edit]

  • The Non-Conformist Conscience makes cowards of us all.
    • King George the Fourth (1894)
  • Most women are not so young as they are painted.
    • A Defense of Cosmetics (1895)
  • To give an accurate and exhaustive account of that period would need a far less brilliant pen than mine.
    • "1880" (1895) from The Works of Max Beerbohm (1896)[1]
  • I was a modest, good-humoured boy. It is Oxford that has made me insufferable.
    • More, “Going Back to School” (1899)
  • The most perfect caricature is that which, on a small surface, with the simplest means, most accurately exaggerates, to the highest point, the peculiarities of a human being, at his most characteristic moment in the most beautiful manner.
    • The Spirit of Caricature (1901)
  • As a teacher, as a propagandist, Shaw is no good at all, even in his own generation. But as a personality, he is immortal.
    • Around Theatres, “A Cursory Conspectus of G.B.S” (1924)
  • The past is a work of art, free of irrelevancies and loose ends.
    • Comment
  • Lift latch, step in, be welcome, Sir,
    Albeit to see you I’m unglad.
    • A Luncheon
  • Only the insane take themselves quite seriously.

Zuleika Dobson (1911)[edit]

  • Zuleika, on a desert island, would have spent most of her time in looking for a man's footprint.
    • Ch. II
  • She was a young person whose reveries never were in retrospect. For her past was no treasury of distinct memories, all hoarded and classified, some brighter than others and more highly valued. All memories were for her but as notes in one fused radiance that followed her and made more luminous the pathway of her future.
    • Ch. II
  • He was too much concerned with his own perfection ever to think of admiring any one else.
    • Ch. III
  • For a young man, sleep is a sure solvent of distress. There whirls not for him in the night any so hideous phantasmagoria as will not become, in the clarity of the next morning, a spruce procession for him to lead. Brief the vague horror of his awakening; memory sweeps back to him, and he sees nothing dreadful after all. "Why not?" is the sun’s bright message to him, and "Why not indeed?" his answer.”
    • Ch. IV
  • The dullard's envy of brilliant men is always assuaged by the suspicion that they will come to a bad end.
    • Ch. IV
  • One has never known a good man to whom dogs were not dear; but many of the best women have no such fondness. You will find that the woman who is really kind to dogs is always one who has failed to inspire sympathy in men. For the attractive woman, dogs are mere dumb and restless brutes — possibly dangerous, certainly soulless. Yet will coquetry teach her to caress any dog in the presence of a man enslaved by her.
    • Ch. VI
  • He heard that whenever a woman was to blame for a disappointment, the best way to avoid a scene was to inculpate oneself.
    • Ch. VII
  • Oxford walls have a way of belittling us; and the Duke was loath to regard his doom as trivial. Aye, by all minerals we are mocked. Vegetables, yearly deciduous, are far more sympathetic.
    • Ch. VII
  • Death cancels all engagements.
    • Ch. VII
  • It is so much easier to covet what one hasn’t than to revel in what one has. Also, it is so much easier to be enthusiastic about what exists than about what doesn’t.
    • Ch. VIII
  • She was one of those people who say "I don't know anything about music really, but I know what I like."
    • Ch. IX
  • You cannot make a man by standing a sheep on its hind-legs. But by standing a whole flock of sheep in that position you can make a crowd of men. If man were not a gregarious animal, the world might have achieved, by this time, some real progress towards civilization. Segregate him, and he is no fool. But let him loose among his fellows, and he is lost —- he becomes a unit in unreason.
    • Ch. IX
  • A crowd, proportionately to its size, magnifies all that in its units pertains to the emotions, and diminishes all that in them pertains to thought.
    • Ch. IX
  • Of all the objects of hatred, a woman once loved is the most hateful.
    • Ch. XIII
  • Just as "pluck" comes of breeding, so is endurance especially an attribute of the artist. Because he can stand outside himself, and (if there be nothing ignoble in them) take pleasure in his own sufferings, the artist has a huge advantage over you and me.
    • Ch. XV
  • The Socratic manner is not a game at which two can play.
    • Ch. XV
  • Everywhere he found his precept checkmated by his example.
    • Ch. XV
  • All fantasy should have a solid base in reality.
    • Note to the 1946 edition

And Even Now (1920)[edit]

  • I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him.
    • No. 2, The Pines (1914)
  • In every human being one or the other of these two instincts is predominant: the active or positive instinct to offer hospitality, the negative or passive instinct to accept it. And either of these instincts is so significant of character that one might as well say that mankind is divisible into two great classes: hosts and guests.
  • I am a Tory Anarchist. I should like every one to go about doing just as he pleased — short of altering any of the things to which I have grown accustomed.
    • Servants (1918)
  • Strange, when you come to think of it, that of all the countless folk who have lived before our time on this planet not one is known in history or in legend as having died of laughter.
    • Laughter (1920)
  • It seems to be a law of nature that no man, unless he has some obvious physical deformity, ever is loth to sit for his portrait.
    • Quia Imperfectum (1920)
  • To say that a man is vain means merely that he is pleased with the effect he produces on other people. A conceited man is satisfied with the effect he produces on himself.
    • Quia Imperfectum
  • Men of genius are not quick judges of character. Deep thinking and high imagining blunt that trivial instinct by which you and I size people up.
    • Quia Imperfectum

About Max Beerbohm[edit]

  • 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.”
    • Joseph Epstein, Max Beerbohm (September 1985)

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