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Seven Men Hardcover – 1959

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Hardcover, 1959
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Do Not Buy This Edition! 24 Mar. 2008
By D. Abrams - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is not a review of Seven Men, which is a wonderful book, well worth reading. Instead, this is a review of the Dodo Press edition of the book. Hard to believe, but it is not a complete version of the book, and is missing two chapters! It's not "Seven Men" but instead, just"Five Men!" Definitely read this book, but purchase the NYRBC edition instead -- it's actually the complete book!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The juggler vs. the strong man 10 Feb. 2001
By Cowboy Bill - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read "Seven Men" a few years back when Harold Bloom listed it as essential reading in his book on the Western canon.
The book consists of short fictional portraits of various characters in the world of Edwardian arts and letters. Beerbohm was a satirist with a nimble touch -- he had the ability to poke fun at the pretensions of the art world while maintaining a gentle, bemused humanism.
Sir Max seemed to view the vanity and foibles of human nature not so much with scorn as with an endless amusement, and reading any of his essays or parodies or satires is like spending the evening chatting with a wise and witty friend.
Beerbohm once wrote, "How many charming talents have been spoiled by the instilled desire to do 'important' work! Some people are born to lift heavy weights. Some are born to juggle with golden balls." Beerbohm was an admitted juggler, and yet his seemingly "light" work is ultimately more insightful than most so-called serious projects. And often much funnier.
Beerbohm was also quite a caricaturist, and his theater reviews (many out of print) are still great to read all these decades later.
Get hold of this book and start off with the classics "Enoch Soames," the story of a third-rate poet who, convinced of his own greatness, makes a deal with the Devil in order to travel to the future to enjoy his posthumous success (with comic results), and "Savonarola Brown," a hilarious sketch of a frustrated playwright and his great "unfinished" opus.
Beerbohm's contemporaries referred to him as "the incomparable Max," and it's a title that fits. I wish I could've met him.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Divine Max 25 Aug. 2001
By bibliomane01 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Bernard Shaw called Beerbohm "the divine Max," and this collection of short pieces will tell you why. The book consists of short character sketches of six men (Beerbohm is the ever present seventh), and each one is a small masterpiece of Edwardian parody and humour. Beerbohm's line sketches of each one of his (imaginary?!) characters are included at the end of the book. Some of the tales have an unexpectedly supernatural twist (the neo-Faustian bargain struck by Enoch Soames being the best of the lot). Three cheers for the NYRB Press for bringing these forgotten gems back into print.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Horror Stories 6 July 2013
By D. Touey - Published on
Format: Paperback
Couldn't be better, and couldn't be funnier. But these are horror stories. Or maybe the stories are comedy horrors or horrific comedies. Enoch Soames (futiley?) sells his soul to the devil; Maltby is destroyed by supernatural appearance of a literary rival he has wronged; James Pethel is a man so addicted to risk that he thoughtlessly drags others into peril....

And how do we find out about Max Beerbohm these days? YouTube, of course. I found an episode of an old BBC show called "Take it or Leave it" in which a passage is read without attribution and the panel has to guess it. The first one read was this from "Enoch Soames":

"I am a Catholic diabolist."

But this profession he made in an almost cursory tone. I could see
that what was upmost in his mind was the fact that I had read
"Negations." His pale eyes had for the first time gleamed. I felt as one
who is about to be examined viva voce on the very subject in
which he is shakiest. I hastily asked him how soon his poems were to be

"Next week," he told me.

"And are they to be published without a title?"

"No. I found a title at last. But I sha'n't tell you what it is," as
though I had been so impertinent as to inquire. "I am not sure that it
wholly satisfies me. But it is the best I can find. It suggests something
of the quality of the poems--strange growths, natural and wild, yet
exquisite," he added, "and many-hued, and full of poisons."

And yes, they all got it except for Anthony Blond.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Never mind how many men! 6 Dec. 2013
By Christopher - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There was an 2nd edition of this book in the 1950s, Seven Men and Two Others (Prion Humour Classics) which has a few more stories. This e-book, however, has three stories complete in themselves, which are the heart of the book. The funniest story, Enoch Soames: a memory of the eighteen-nineties is available separately. Enoch Soames is a 'decadent' poet, looked up to by the young Max, who defers to him more than he should:

'It was Milton,' he certificatively added, 'who converted me to Diabolism.'
'Diabolism? Oh yes? Really?' said I, with that vague discomfort and that intense desire to be polite which one feels when a man speaks of his own religion. 'You--worship the Devil?'
Soames shook his head. 'It's not exactly worship,' he qualified, sipping his absinthe. 'It's more a matter of trusting and encouraging.'
'Ah, yes.... But I had rather gathered from the preface to "Negations" that you were a--a Catholic.'
'Je l'etais a cette epoque. Perhaps I still am. Yes, I'm a Catholic Diabolist.'

Two other men, rival authors, are in a sort-of ghost story, "Hilary Maltby and Stephen Braxton"

"Savanarola" Brown, and his unfinished blank-verse play, is almost as good as Enoch Soames, and the story and play are not mangled in this e-edition. Here is my favorite excerpt from the play (bear in mind, its goodness is in its badness):

"__ __ __ Would you but con
With me the old philosophers of Hellas,
Her fervent bards and calm historians,
You would arise and say 'We will not hear
Another word against them!'
[The crowd already says this, repeatedly, with great emphasis.]
__ __ __ Take the Dialogues
Of Plato, for example. You will find
A spirit far more truly Christian
In them than in the ravings of the sour-soul'd
[Prolonged cries of 'Death to the Sour-Souled Savonarola!' Several cobblers detach themselves from the crowd and rush away to read the Platonic Dialogues]
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