|Socially acceptable ideas of any age are often like hot-air balloons. In Snooty Baronet Lewis deflates, with devastating humor and satire, the pet delusions of London’s fashionable bohemia of the 1930s. On its publication in 1932, the novel was boycotted by English librarians, who were shocked at its “lewdness.” The threat of libel action also hung over the book when several of Lewis’s acquaintances recognized themselves in his less-than-flattering portraits. The original publisher, consequently, did nothing to promote Snooty Baronet and only a few copies were distributed.
One of his least-known novels this is certainly Lewis’s funniest and possibly his freshest creation. Chronologically it makes the apex of the artist’s career, and stands as a watershed between his experimental and more realistic periods.
Narrator and protagonist is Sir Michael “Snooty” Kell-Imrie, an aristocratic Scots naturalist and behaviorist, author of “Big Game of the Great Deeps” and “People Behaving.” Kell-Imrie’s war wounds have left him with a wooden leg, a silver plate in his skull, a pension, and leisure to pursue his researches into human frailty — both in the beds of his London mistresses and in the remote corners of the globe.
Couched in the most sparkling prose, this philosophical farce transfixed by violence promenades Snooty, the heir to the showman of The Wild Body, from Mayfair to Southern France and ultimately Persia.