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by Max Beerbohm
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Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm (1872-1956) was an English parodist and caricaturist. His first book, The Works of Max Beerbohm, was published in 1896. Having been interviewed by George Bernard Shaw himself, in 1898 he followed Shaw as drama critic for the Saturday Review, on whose staff he remained until 1910. From 1935 onwards, he was an occasional radio broadcaster, talking about cars and carriages and music halls for the BBC. His wit is shown often enough in his caricatures but his letters contain a carefully blended humour-a gentle admonishing of the excesses of the day-whilst remaining firmly tongue in cheek. Beerbohm's best known works are: Yet Again (1909), A Christmas Garland (1912), a parody of literary styles, and Seven Men (1919), which includes Enoch Soames, the tale of a poet who makes a deal with the devil to find out how posterity will remember him. In 1911 he wrote Zuleika Dobson, or, An Oxford Love Story, his only novel. He also wrote And Even Now (1920).
If I were `seeing over' a house, and found in every room an iron cage let into the wall, and were told by the caretaker that these cages were for me to keep lions in, I think I should open my eyes rather wide. Yet nothing seems to me more natural than a fire in the grate. oubtless, when I began to walk, one of my first excursions was to the fender, that I might gaze more nearly at the live thing roaring and raging behind it; and I dare say I dimly wondered by what blessed dispensation this creature was allowed in a domain so peaceful as my nursery. I do not think I ever needed to be warned against scaling the fender. I knew by instinct that the creature within it was dangerous - fiercer still than the cat which had once strayed into the room and scratched me for my advances. As I grew older, I ceased to wonder at the creature's presence and learned to call it `the fire,' quite lightly. There are so many queer things in the world that we have no time to go on wondering at the queerness of the things we see habitually. It is not that these things are in themselves less queer than they at first seemed to us. It is that our vision of them has been dimmed.
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