Blog

 

The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbohm


Max Beerbohm’s (1872-1956) adult fairy tale, The Happy Hypocrite, is sometimes described as a more lighthearted version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is the story of a thoroughly immoral man who deceives a young woman into marriage by wearing a mask. Through his love for his wife he is then transformed into a good and humble human being.


The short story first appeared in the literary periodical The Yellow Book in 1896 and was later published 1897. In 1900 it was adapted into a stage show starring the formidable Mrs Patrick Campbell and was revived again in 1936 with Vivien Leigh. The edition in the photographs with colour illustrations by George Sheringham was published by John Lane in November, 1918.


George Bernard Shaw gave Beerbohm the lasting epithet “the Incomparable Max” and his other works include Zuleika Dobson which was ranked 59th on the Modern Library list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. He was also a popular caricaturist whose work appeared in all the fashionable periodicals of his time. Major collections of Beerbohm’s caricatures can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, the Tate collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.


The illustrator George Sheringham is best known for his theatrical designs for D’Oyly Carte Opera Company for which he created sets for productions including H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance.


For further book scraps, please follow on Twitter.

Of Women and their Elegance by Norman Mailer – Photographs by Milton Greene


Norman Mailer never met or had a conversation with Marilyn Monroe, but was inspired to write Of Women and their Elegancehis imaginary memoir chronicling around four years in her life whilst she was living in New York, simply by looking at the portraits taken by the fashion photographer Milton Greene. Mailer believed that Greene’s photographs, which presented Monroe in more modest poses and would go on to become some of her most iconic, revealed a side of her nature that was not to be found anywhere else. Basing much of what he wrote on the reminiscences of Milton and his wife Amy, Mailer argued, that although not everything in the book actually occurred, it was truthful in nature to whom she was as we recollect the past by mood as much as by fact. Whilst he never quite succeeds in portraying Monroe in a significantly different light from the usual masculine male perspective (and certain sections of the book do not seem plausible), in addition to her sensuality and sadness, he does endow her with a mischievous sense of fun.


As retold in this book, Milton Greene setup a production company with Monroe that made the films Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl. Monroe’s relationship with Greene was also featured in the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn.


The book in the photographs is a first UK edition, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1981. In addition to pictures of Monroe, it also contains other outstanding examples of Greene’s photography.


For further book scraps, please follow on Twitter.

Osbert Lancaster


For a man who tried to work as little as possible, Osbert Lancaster (1908-1986), the cartoonist and author of popular humorous books satirising society and architecture, achieved a great deal. After requiring an extra year to complete his studies at Oxford, he left with a distinctly unremarkable fourth class degree and from there went on to fail the law exams he needed to work as a barrister. Whilst he was a failure in both his academic and professional career, he did eventually become very successful in making people laugh.


In 1936 he joined the Daily Express as their cartoonist and for the next forty years he produced -without too much strenuous effort on his part – an estimated 10,000 cartoons that gently mocked and parodied the Upper classes. There he became known as the pioneer of the Pocket Cartoon: a topical single-panel single-column drawing, which was then widely imitated by other newspapers.


Described by his headmaster at school as "irretrievably gauche," over the years Lancaster cultivated his personality and demeanor into that of a slightly outmoded, upper class Edwardian gentleman, of the kind he poked fun of in his cartoons. This led one acquaintance to remark that "the mask has become the face."


The books in the photographs are from two first editions of his comical books on architecture, published by John Murray in the late 1940s.


For further book scraps, please follow on Twitter.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez


Love in the Time of Cholera is an epic saga chronicling the loves of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. It begins with the innocent and clandestine love affair of their youth. Fermina abruptly ends the romance after returning from a prolonged trip away she realises that her love for Florentino was something of an illusion. Her rejection of the hopelessly romantic and slightly awkward Florentino is followed by her marriage to the more pragmatic and self-assured Dr Urbino. The novel then follows the next fifty years of their lives: Fermina’s marriage and Florentinos many strange affairs with other women, before, finally their romance is rekindled in old age.


Cholera, a word that denotes both disease and passion, is a metaphor for the physical and emotional ravages of love. Almost akin to a form of seasickness, Fermina and Florentino on their voyages through life experience many forms of love, its loss and its recapture, before finally setting off into unchartered waters.


Marquez, who had to wait fourteen years to marry his own wife, was inspired to write the story based on own experience and those of his parents. However, whilst this served as material for the earlier parts of the novel, the love that blossoms in later life was inspired by a newspaper story about the death of two Americans, who were almost 80 years old, who met every year in Acapulco. They were out in a boat one day and were murdered by the boatman with his oars. García Márquez remarked that "Through their death, the story of their secret romance became known. I was fascinated by them. They were each married to other people."


The book in the photographs is a first English translation, published by Jonathan Cape in 1998.


For further book scraps, please follow on Twitter.

Design by I D E N T I