Author(s): Ronald Firbank
The fairly young and entirely alive Mrs Shamefoot wants nothing more than to have a memorial stained-glass window erected in her honour in an English cathedral. From this premise, the inimitable Ronald Firbank extends his witty, eccentric "Vainglory", with a crowded cast of hilariously drawn characters - Winsome Brooks, Lady Anne Pantry, Miss Wookie, Mrs Barrow of Dawn and Mrs Steeple - a riot of parties, and a bottomless sense of the ridiculous. Admired by Auden, Forster and Waugh, Firbank's fine comic skill, quick-fire dialogue and descriptive flights of fancy are perfectly captured in "Vainglory", his first and longest novel, as well as in two novellas included here: "Inclinations" and "Caprice".
Ronald Firbank is one of the funniest writers in English and Richard Canning's introduction makes him entirely accessible for a new generation of readers -- Edmund White Elusive, rich, and now and again comically improper Guardian Deliciously influential -- Philip Womack Telegraph These three early novels should be welcomed with a bacchanal of the sort that you might find within their pages. Published between 1915 and 1917, they display a brittle, beautiful sensibility [...] Without Ronald Firbank we would not have Aldous Huxley, Evelyn Waugh or Henry Green. His ultimate descendant is William Burroughs [...] This reissue is a reminder of what can be done with words, and may it reach a whole new generation of readers. Time to break open the champagne. Observer As Richard Canning notes in his introduction to this authoritative new edition, Ronald Firbank is our great unsung modernist...These novels reveal subtler and more surprising pleasures with each reading. Yes, there is frivolity here, but there is also heartbreak and an almost ruthless refusal to prettify the rawest and most elemental aspects of human experience -- David Leavitt A person who dislikes [Firbank's novels] may, for all I know, possess some admirable quality but I do not wish ever to see him again -- W H Auden
Ronald Firbank (1886-1926) was born in London to wealthy parents. In 1906 he went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, but left after two years. He travelled a good deal, though lived mainly in London, habitue of the Cafe Royal. Firbank was well-known for his extreme and deliberate aestheticism, his sinuous, loosely-jointed figure, and his morbid nervousness, which issued in hysterical laughter and an elaborately capricious manner. His other notable works include Valmouth, The Princess Zabaroff, The Flower Beneath the Foot, Sorrow in Sunlight and Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli.