A Christmas Garland - Beerbohm, Max; Hall, N. John - Yale University Press
Literary Studies

A Christmas Garland

  • Max Beerbohm; Edited by N. John Hall
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Out of Print.

Few writers have possessed Max Beerbohm's talent for parody, and A Christmas Garland is perhaps the best collection of parodies ever written in English. Here are glorious, often loving spoofs of Beerbohm's well-known contemporaries—Henry James, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, George Meredith, John Galsworthy, and others--woven together by a Christmas theme and by the inventiveness of Beerbohm's comic art.


When A Christmas Garland first appeared in 1912, reviewers agreed that Beerbohm had not merely captured the styles or "externals" of his subjects but had "unbared their brains and hearts". He seemed to have obtained "temporary loans of their very minds," from which he "worked outwards to the perfect jest." James, the first author parodied, read A Christmas Garland with "wonder and delight" and called the book "the most intelligent that has been produced in England for many a long day."


John Hall's introduction deftly provides background material on the authors parodied, and in the case of those who are less well known today, includes representative quotations from their writings. Hall also recounts Beerbohm's recorded comments on the authors' style, pointing to the salient aspects of their work that appealed to Beerbohm's sense of fun.


This edition of A Christmas Garland is enriched with thirty-two of Beerbohm's caricatures of the authors he parodies—the perfect complement to this singular book: the caricatures look more like their subjects than they themselves do, just as the parodies often sound more like the writers than the writers' own work.  

N. John Hall is Distinguished Professor of English at Bronx Community College and the Graduate School, City University of New York.