Books: A Perfect Dear

FIVE NOVELS OF RONALD FIRBANK (472 pp.)—New Directions ($5).

To be dubbed "eccentric" by his fellow countrymen, a Briton must be eccentric indeed—almost out of his wits, in fact. One contemporary Briton who unquestionably deserved the title was the late Arthur Annesley Ronald Firbank (1886-1926). Novelist Firbank was an esthete whose behavior was so "odd" that even such a case-hardened bird-watcher as Sir Osbert Sitwell is moved to confess in an introduction that Friend Firbank must have felt a bit "hedged off" in a private world that was noticeably "different from that of others."...

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