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Firbank, (Arthur Annesly) Ronald

novel completed black set

(British, 1886–1926)

Ronald Firbank inherited an income that allowed him to travel widely and to publish his own books. He was received into the Catholic Church while studying at Cambridge in 1907, and alongside his homosexuality, the theatrical and exotic elements of Catholicism helped to shape the sensibility of Firbank's novels. He is best known for Valmouth (1919), a comic novel set in a sauna dominated by a manipulative black masseuse. Prancing Nigger (1924, also known by Firbank's preferred title Sorrow in Sunlight) is the comic story of the social aspirations of a black family set in the Caribbean. The high artifice of Firbank's style is an acquired taste, and has been extremely influential despite the neglect he experienced in his own time. Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli (1926) was Firbank's last completed work, and The Artificial Princess (1934), a novel which he had started in 1906 and completed in 1925, was published posthumously.

Oscar Wilde, Evelyn Waugh, Brigid Brophy  WB

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