Monday, February 02, 2004

Max Beerbohm considered as a yoof columnist. "Shortly after Max's success with his Works, Harmsworth put at his disposal a column in the Daily Mail. Max came on board in December 1896 and had carte blanche to write about anything he wished - fire brigades, sign-boards, knighthoods. The pieces all had the kind of smart-alecky hook Harmsworth liked. 'What I want ever morning in the paper,' Harmsworth said, 'is something new and strange.'" - N. John Hall, Max Beerbohm: A kind of a life.
To translate: Beerbohm was hired by the first modern British newspaper baron as a means of exploiting the decadence craze. He was chosen to write look-at-me comment on subjects which he was unqualified to discuss, except as a representative of a certain kind of young person. This should be sounding familiar. It may be of comfort to Bidisha, Johann Hari et al that he went on to be one of the most admired personal essayists in English.
[Max Beerbohm: A kind of a life, by N. John Hall, Yale 2002. Written in a glaringly first-person style as a tribute to its subject, and an excellent demonstation of how hard that style is to master.]

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