Books: Twilight of a Dandy

PORTRAIT OF MAX (317 pp.)—S. N. Behrman—Random House ($6).

"The gods have bestowed on Max the gift of perpetual old age," quipped Oscar Wilde when Max Beerbohm was all of 25. It is difficult to know precisely when Max's old age began. Perhaps, since he "detested change of any kind," it began at birth. He was the ninth and last child of a late-fiftyish father; a faintly melancholy, autumn mood came as first nature to Max. Then again, his old age may have begun at 23 when his first book, archly titled The Works of...

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