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Enoch Soames

This satire on fin de siècle literary London, written in 1912, reaches its fictional climax in 1997. It could be sabotaged by a very real decision to rebuild the British Museum reading room Abridged version of "Enoch Soames," reprinted with permission of the Beerbohm Estate, London Management

By Max Beerbohm   January 1997

In the summer term of 1893 a bolt from the blue flashed down on Oxford. It drove deep, it hurtlingly embedded itself in the soil. Dons and undergraduates stood around, rather pale, discussing nothing but it. Whence came it, this meteorite? From Paris. Its name? Will Rothenstein. Its aim? To do a series of 24 portraits in lithograph. These were to be published from the Bodley Head, London. The matter was urgent. Already the Warden of A, and the Master of B and the Regius Professor of C, had meekly “sat.” Dignified and doddering old men, who had never consented…

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