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Max Beerbohm: Zuleika Dobson

A funny and witty satire, proving the inferiority of the students and faculty of Oxford University, if such proof was needed. Zuleika Dobson is a beautiful young woman who visits her grandfather, who is warden of Judas College, Oxford. Her arrival in Oxford causes consternation as all the undergraduates (Oxford was exclusively male at that time) fall in love with her, from the American Rhodes scholar Oover to the fourteenth Duke of Dorset. Zuleika, however, states clearly that she would only be interested in a man who does not bow down to her. That lets out Oover, the Duke and pretty well all the other Oxford denizens. Indeed, the Duke is so distraught that he promises to drown himself in the river Isis after the Boat Race. This he proceeds to do, followed by every Oxford undergraduate except for one who is physically unable to do so. At the end, we find Zuleika looking at the train timetable for Cambridge. Incidentally, C S Roberts wrote about her adventures there in a book called Zuleika in Cambridge. The Cambridge students are, of course, more impervious to Miss Dobson’s charms.

Publishing history

First published 1911 by W. Heinemann