(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Snooty Baronet is a broad social satire which focuses on Sir Michael Kell-Impie, the “Snooty Baronet” of the title, a minor writer of some celebrity, with a mechanical leg and an obscure Scottish title. The novel begins with the writer introducing himself to the reader by confessing that authors are unaccustomed to opening books in the first person, singular, but that the presence of his mechanical leg necessitates such an approach since it is impossible to extricate himself from the cab in which he is riding with any other voice. The opening sentences introduce the reader to Snooty in all of his eccentricities, both verbal and physical, and establish the confessional/hortatory tone of the fiction from the start.

Snooty soon leaves New York to return to his native country of England, and the trip to London provides an opportunity for him to give vent to his various prejudices against contemporary British society through a running monologue on various indices of imminent collapse such as billboards and the popular press. Waiting for him on his return is a note from his lover of long standing, Mrs. Valerie Ritter, and one from his agent, Captain Humphrey Cooper Carter. Both want to see him. His appointment with Val that night leads to a debauch and an invitation from Val to spend some time together in the south of France. The next morning, Snooty visits his agent, from whom he receives an invitation to write a book on the cult of Mithras in Persia, a volume Humph believes will equal Snooty’s book on fish in public interest. The invitation is a thinly disguised ruse to get Snooty captured in Persia by Ali Akbar, the bandit, so that his books will gain sales through the resultant publicity. The scenes with Val lend themselves to a satire on modern love affairs, and the scenes...

(The entire section is 736 words.)