R.B. Gill


According to David Hume, "The mind is a kind of theatre where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations." Hume's well-known account of personal identity aptly describes William Beckford--petulant heir to great wealth, a member of Parliament, connoisseur, architectural dilettante, fugitive from sexual scandal, and author of Vathek, one of the most enjoyable and intriguing of the eighteenth-century Oriental tales. Across the pages of Vathek and, indeed, of Beckford's whole life pass and mingle the successive actors of his disjointed identity.