Books: Legpull

THE GREAT VICTORIAN COLLECTION by BRIAN MOORE 213 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $7.95.

The Victorians, as Chesterton observed, were "lame giants; the strongest of them walked on one leg a little shorter than the other." It was an epoch of elegance and kitsch, dignity and pornography, liberal cant and imperial overreach. It is this instability that enlivens—and afflicts—Brian Moore's novel, The Great Victorian Collection.

The collection is literally dreamed up by a young scholar vacationing in California. One night Anthony Maloney falls asleep in an obscure motel, imagining a priceless array of...

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