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: Zuleika Dobson is a deliciously absurd book, simultaneously outrageously funny and simply outrageous. It is also a book that could perhaps only have been written when it was, after the end of the Victorian Age but immediately before the horrors of WW I. It is almost impossible to imagine a comedy about a woman who so enchants the students in the colleges of Oxford University that they are inspired to commit suicide en masse appearing after the horrors of the Great War. Only ten years after it appeared, it would have been impossible for it to get published. As it is, it stands as one of the last mementos of the pre-War era. Zuleika Dobson is not for everyone: though it is farce, it is not broad farce. Much of the humor lies in the subtlety of the language and one lacking the ear to appreciate the wit is going to be left rather cold. Regardless, it is one of the more deliciously written novels of the past century. It is also one of the sillier books ever written, and intentionally so. The remarkable thing is that Zuleika herself, whose fault is that she can only fall in love with someone who scarcely notices her and fails to love anyone who in turn loves her, is written as a terribly uninteresting person. She is a stage performer, gaining fame with an amateurish magic act with equipment she stole from a previous admirer, yet she never really charms the reader as she ought. This, of course, makes the manner in which she bewitches all of Oxford even more wonderfully absurd. Throughout it all Beerbohm plays one delightful game after another. For instance, when someone comments on Zuleika's style of speech, she admits to copying from one Max Beerbohm, beside whom she sat at some dinner. Beerbohm also deals wonderfully with the issue of authorial point of view. Around this time the omniscient narrator was taking quite a beating from critics, so Beerbohm makes himself explicitly omnipresent as the result of an encounter with the muse Clio, who makes him temporarily a disembodied spirit, able to enter any space unhindered and unobserved and able to invade even the thoughts of others. There really isn't another book quite like Zuleika Dobson. Fans of Three Men in a Boat might find some resemblance between the two, but even here the resemblance is remote. Best just to read it as what it truly is: one of the most unique comic novels ever written.