Maugham, W. Somerset, 1874-1965.
Full name: William Somerset Maugham.
British novelist and playwright born in Paris and raised in France and Kent. One of the
most popular authors of his time, he wrote in a plain style when more experimental writing
was in vogue. Noted for creating characters with strong drives and conflicts, toward which he
took a non-judgmental attitude. He established a literary prize, the Somerset Maugham Award,
Of Human Bondage. 1915.
A coming of age story whose protagonist, the club-footed Philip
Carey, loses his parents at an early age and is raised by a coldly distant uncle. He becomes
an art student in Paris and experiences a sequence of sexual entanglements, all of which
end badly. After a period of penury Philip becomes a doctor, drifting into an association with
the irascible Dr. South and an engagement to Sally, daughter of his friend Thorpe Athelny,
ultimately finding satisfaction in his profession and marriage. Considered Maugham's
masterpiece. The title is taken from a section title of Spinoza's Ethics. Adapted
to film in 1934, 1946 and 1964.
The Razor's Edge. 1944.
Semi-fictional novel featuring American pilot Larry Darrell, traumatized by his
experience of World War I. Larry rejects the materialism of those close to him and embarks
on a peripatetic quest for meaning which takes him through Europe and India. His achievement of happiness in a common, working existence is contrasted with the
empty, self-destructive lives of his friends. The author appears as a minor figure
impinging and commenting on the lives of the major characters. The title is from a verse
in the Katha-Upushniad: "The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the
wise say the path to Salvation is hard." Adapted to film in 1946 and 1984.
Nov. 27, 2013,
and last updated
Nov. 27, 2013.
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Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2013 by Brian Kunde.