The Grand Babylon Hotel opens with New York millionaire Theodore Racksole’s demand for an “Angel Kiss” —an American concoction the Grand Babylon does not serve. Racksole and his daughter Nella are on vacation, but quickly find themselves running the hotel, after Theodore’s impulsive purchase of the establishment from founder and owner Felix Babylon. Soon the Racksoles are rushing to solve the mystery that threatens the reigning Prince of Posen — and Nella’s future. The hotel itself opens possibilities for adventure, discovery, and wonder that the Racksoles had never anticipated.
The novel, out of print for decades, raises serious questions about the possibilities for a truly cosmopolitan world, offering a dazzling picture of what this would look like. The historical appendices to this edition include extensive photographs and documents from the history of the Savoy Hotel (the model for the Grand Babylon) and material on the film version.
“Randi Saloman’s editing makes The Grand Babylon Hotel even grander, adding layers of historical, culinary, linguistic, and geographical detail to this fascinating and revelatory fiction. A lucid introduction and magnificent footnotes help to bring Bennett back to life—a resuscitation he surely deserves! This edition is wonderful for teaching—the contextual material is wisely selected and helps to put Bennett into his proper milieu and to bring him—thanks to Saloman’s scholarly vitality and conviction—into ours.”—Elaine Freedgood, New York University
“For too long Arnold Bennett’s posthumous reputation has been overshadowed by his public disagreements with Virginia Woolf: he decried her cleverness, ‘the lowest of artistic qualities’; while she considered him a ‘workman,’ a ‘materialist,’ the representative of an outmoded generation. But the range and vitality of his works give the lie to Woolf’s assessment, and in The Grand Babylon Hotel we encounter a young and ambitious Bennett, a writer exploring the spaces, identities, and anxieties of urban modernity. Through her careful notes, contextual appendices, and illuminating introduction, Randi Saloman welcomes us to the Babylon Hotel, where anonymity and aporia, the ‘community and connection’ of its rooms and corridors, seem to embody the paradoxes of modern life. Much overdue, this new edition will introduce Bennett’s strange and enthralling ‘fantasia’ to a whole new generation of readers.”—Amber Regis, University of Sheffield
“The modern hotel is a locus for all the fluidities, anxieties, and opportunities for self-invention that define modernity itself, as Arnold Bennett recognized in his delightful, genre-confounding novel The Grand Babylon Hotel, a mystery-farce accented by sharp observations on the nature of modern identity. Randi Salomon’s fine edition of the novel situates it equally well in the contexts of Bennett’s career, of Edwardian and modernist literary history, and of the dynamic first years of the turbulent twentieth century. Her illuminating introduction is equally well-attuned to its playful and thoughtful sides, and demonstrates why, even when he is having fun, Arnold Bennett is worth serious reading.” — Robert Squillace, New York University
“Appendices include Bennett’s views on [Grand Babylon Hotel] from his ‘Journal’ and Letters; quotations relevant to GBH from other writings by Bennett; photographs and images of Bennett; contemporary reviews of GBH; quotations from different histories of the Savoy Hotel including photographs, highly relevant as the Grand Babylon is based on the Savoy as indeed is Bennett’s last completed novel ‘Imperial Palace’ (1930); and details of the ‘lost’ 1916 film of the novel … With all the extras this edition provides outstanding ‘value added’ and is a significant contribution to the 150th celebration of Bennett’s birth in 2017.” — Martin Laux, archivist of the Arnold Bennett Society
“The Grand Babylon Hotel is a ripping good yarn, and Randi Saloman’s new edition for Broadview truly does it justice … Saloman matches the exuberance and vivacity—and the rich detail— of her subject in the first-rate and well-written scholarly apparatus she provides as part of this new edition. Like other Broadview editions, this one comes complete with an extensive and illuminating introduction, appendices providing important background and context on author and work, and detailed explanatory footnotes” — Janine Utell, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920