Tag Archives: whimsy

The Black Owls and Zuleika Dobson

My most recent novel, The Black Owls, an Oxford Nightmare (A-Argus Books, Sept., 2013), is a tribute of sorts to a book first published more than a hundred years ago–Zuleika Dobson, or an Oxford Love Story, by Sir Max Beerbohm.  Zuleika is a broad satire of life at the University of Oxford around the beginning of the last century.  Beerbohm took as his principal conceit that the appearance of a beautiful young illusionist–visiting her grandfather, the Warden of Judas College– inspires the Duke of Dorset–first among all the students at Oxford–to promise suicide if she would not have him, an oath that quickly spreads to the rest of the (all male) student body.  While this premise works its way through boat races, club dinners and even a performance by Zuleika herself, Sir Max–an 1890 alumnus of Merton College, Oxford–chronicles the beauty, traditions and peculiarities of his beloved Oxford and its denizens.  The book appears on nearly all of the lists of great novels of the 20th century.  I highly recommend it. Continue reading