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January 06 , 2011

Collected Tales and Fantasies


Here is a delightful collection of short fiction by the quirky, off-beat writer and composer Lord Berners.With dark, razor-sharp wit and spare distinctive prose, Berners offers us an unforgettable set of characters including Cleopatra, composer Emanuel Smith (supposedly William Walton), Emmeline Pocock, who "looked a nymph in one of the less licentious pictures of Fragonard," and Mr. Pidger, a Pomeranian with an incisive bark and an agitated soul.These short works are triumphs of dry irony and glorious absurdity.Little known in the Unied States, Lord Berners (1883-1950) was a composer,novelist, painter, and conspicuous aesthete.The character of Lord Merlin in Nancy Mitford's THE PURSUIT OF LOVE is patterned on Lord Berners, who would dip his pigeons into basins of meganta, green, and ultramarine so that when released they resembled, as Mitford wrote, "a cloud of confetti in the sky."Known as "The English Satie," Berners as a composer collaborated with Sacheverell Sitwell, Gertrude Stein and Serge Diaghilev.

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