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Synopsis

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Zuleika Dobson 59th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Zuleika Dobson is a stunningly attractive young woman of the Edwardian era, a true femme fatale, who is a prestidigitator by profession, formerly a governess. Zuleika's current occupation (though, more importantly, perhaps, her enrapturing beauty) has made her something of a small-time celebrity and she manages to gain entrance to the privileged, all-male domain of Oxford University because her grandfather is the Warden of Judas College (based on Merton College, Oxford, author Beerbohm's alma mater).

There, she falls in love for the first time in her life with the present Duke of Dorset, a snobbish, emotionally detached student who—frustrated with the lack of control over his feelings when he sees her—is forced to admit that she too is his first love, impulsively proposing to her. What ensues is a deliciously twisted farce-cum-satire written in some of the most beautiful prose ever put to paper.

Beerbohm writes with the same startling, lyrical flamboyance as his friend and contemporary Oscar Wilde. 'Zuleika' was his only novel but was nonetheless very successful.

“If 'Zuleika Dobson' is too frivolous to be certified as ‘canonical,’ it is clearly a perennially revivable minor classic, uniquely redolent of a particular time and place.” ~ The Los Angeles Times

“A perfect fantasy.” ~ The New York Review of Books

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