Zuleika Dobson, full title Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story, is a 1911 vel by Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. It was his only vel, but was netheless very successful. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Zuleika Dobson 59th on its list of the 100 best English-language vels of the 20th century. Zuleika Dobson is a stunningly attractive young woman, a true femme fatale, who is a conjurer by profession. Zuleika manages to gain entrance to the privileged, all-male domain of Oxford University when she visits her grandfather, the Warden of Judas College (based on Merton College, Oxford, Beerbohm's alma mater). There she entices the undergraduates with her manner and looks; however, as she feels that she cant love anyone unless he is impervious to her charms, she rejects her suitors and they are driven to suicide. This satire includes such wonderful lines as Death cancels all engagements and presents a wickedly funny view of Edwardian Oxford. By an ancient tradition, on the eve of the death of a Duke of Dorset, two black owls come and perch on the battlements of Tankerton Hall, the family seat. The owls remain there through the night, hooting. At dawn they fly away, ne kws whither. In the course of the vel, the present Duke, an Oxford undergraduate, receives a telegram from his butler at Tankerton - Deeply regret inform your grace last night two black owls came and perched on battlements remained there through night hooting at dawn flew away ne kws whither awaiting instructions Jellings. The Duke promptly replies Jellings Tankerton Hall Prepare vault for funeral Monday Dorset. Later the same day, a thunderstorm overwhelms the May Week boat races and the Duke drowns himself in the River Isis, wearing the robes of a Knight of the Garter. All of his fellow undergraduates, except one, promptly follow suit. All of the Oxford undergraduates are dead, including the coward Noaks, who may or may t have died accidentally. Zuleika, the author writes, had taken full toll w. A few pages later, Zuleika has ordered a special train for the next morning... bound for Cambridge. Meanwhile, the University's academic staff barely tice that all of their undergraduates have vanished.
Sir Henry Maximilian Max Beerbohm (August 24, 1872 - May 20, 1956) was an English essayist, parodist and caricaturist best known today for his 1911 novel Zuleika Dobson. Beerbohm's best known works include A Christmas Garland (1912), a parody of literary styles, Seven Men (1919), which includes Enoch Soames, the tale of a poet who makes a deal with the Devil to find out how posterity will remember him, and Zuleika Dobson (1911), his only novel.