Books: House Party Alternatives

THE PLEASURES OF PEACOCK (458 pp.) —Edited by Ben Ray Redman—Farrar Straus ($5).

Time: 1865. Scene: the library of a country house in Lower Halliford (among the books: seven prankish novels to be reissued in 1947 as The Pleasures of Peacock). Cries of "Fire!" A tall, handsome, irascible old man hurries in, followed by a curate who implores him to leave. "By the immortal gods," shouts the old man, looking at his beloved books, "I will not move." Several weeks later, he died of shock. Death had paid Novelist Thomas Love Peacock the compliment of imitating his style.

As a young man, Peacock,...

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