GOING OUT FOR A WALK By Max Beerbohm
Sir Henry Maximilian “Max” Beerbohm was an English essayist, parodist, and caricaturist best known today for his 1911 novel Zuleika Dobson. Wikipedia
Known as “the Incomparable Max,” the English writer and caricaturist Sir (Henry) Maximilian Beerbohm is remembered for the elegance and gentle humor of his personal essays. Author Phillip Lopate has observed that Beerbohm’s “concise writing style achieved comic effects with the spin he put on individual words, with sudden shifts in diction and the puncturing of sentimentality.”
Here, in the essay “Going Out for a Walk” (1918), Beerbohm challenges the notion that walking is a productive mental exercise–especially if one is accompanied by a talkative companion.
NOTE Prepared by teachers
The essay entitled ‘Going out for a Walk’ by Max Beerbohm rather contradicts the popular statement, ‘ a sound mind in a sound body’ through this essay. The writer looks at the walking as a ‘physical exercise’ with a different perspective.
The essay begins with the statement he had never been on a walking trip – enjoying the scenic beauty of nature. As such with the intention of physical fitness. He actually had a notion if one was walking along with a talkative companion, the activity will be more appealing. The essayist shares the experience with such a companion which ultimately turned out to be an utter failure. His attempts go to the extent that a man’s activity is sometimes hampered by forceful physical exertions.
Humorously, he poses a question why we should go for a walk. He is against the common idea of “walking for walking sake.” According to him, if one person walks with the intention of physical fitness alone, his purpose will definitely fail him. This activity being purely mechanical, he could never enjoy the nature and such a man would never be creative.
Beerbohm is strictly personal in his writings as it is evident in this particular essay. Towards the end of the essay, the essayist makes the reader think that any physical exercise should be a harmonious process by blending brain, body and soul. The author confesses that the essay was composed while going on a walk. He stresses that walking is not something that can be forcefully done. Unless the person has an urge for this, it will never be a fruitful task. He compromises himself by saying that in moderation, it is fine for physical fitness. In the concluding sentences of the essay, he asserts that if anybody insists him to do a physical exercise, – walking – , he will never go for it.
The essay is written in a highly complex and thought provoking style. His choice of words is artistic and often humorous. Though the theme is simple, it is presented in an ambiguous manner.
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