Have you heard the one about James Joyce turning up on Yeats' doorstep on the occasion of the latter's fortieth birthday? ""You're too old for me to help. I bid you goodbye,"" Joyce announced summarily. Sutherland, Professor Emeritus of Modern English literature at the Univ. of London, has, we suspect, been amassing these bons and not-so-bons mots for many years and everyone from the Venerable Bede, 8th century Abbot of Jarrow, to Dylan Thomas is anecdotally accounted for--including some deservedly obscure Restoration gallants, 18th century pedants and Victorian grandes dames. Most of these anecdotes are by literary figures as well as being about them and Sutherland admits he's made no effort to distinguish between the apocryphal and the authentic--so long as it makes a good yarn. Alas, there are some which leave you waiting for the punch line after it has passed, but then, not everyone can match the repartee of Oscar Wilde who once turned down what promised to be an obnoxious dinner party with the quip that ""I should be like a poor lion in a den of savage Daniels."" Good-humored and often revealing epiphanies of the temper and temperament of some illustrious men of letters, for a special audience.