Somerset Maugham

Was Albert Camus a better goalkeeper than George Orwell? Have your say here.
Post Reply
k-j
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 2978
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:37 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Somerset Maugham

Post by k-j » Mon May 12, 2014 3:56 am

If there was ever a writer in the first rank of second-rate writers, this was he, and I mean that in a good way. I think a good measure of a writer is the short story, and Maugham's best are exemplary of the form.

His colonial settings - Borneo, Guyana etc. - and themes - lonesome shaving of the empire needs a wife, etc. - he has in common with Conrad, and also the variety of narrative styles (either third-person omniscient, or detached man-about-town first-person). He's also like Conrad, although not so bold, in his use of time, hearsay and flashback to construct the tale. But Conrad is a braver, more savage writer, who goes all the way, right to the heart of his characters' flaws and demise. With Maugham, you always feel there is something worse lurking outside the story which drives it all and yet cannot be described. And whether there is or isn't, maybe this is his great appeal?

Anyhow, he is a joy to read, severely underrated in my view. I've read The Moon and Sixpence, Of Human Bondage and two of the four vols of his Collected Stories.
fine words butter no parsnips

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6539
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: Somerset Maugham

Post by Antcliff » Tue May 13, 2014 8:01 pm

If there was ever a writer in the first rank of second-rate writers, this was he, and I mean that in a good way. I think a good measure of a writer is the short story, and Maugham's best are exemplary of the form.
It has been a long time, but I recall enjoying some of his. I have great respect for those in the "first rank of the second rate"....I rather think of H. E. Bates as another.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

k-j
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 2978
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:37 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: Somerset Maugham

Post by k-j » Tue May 13, 2014 9:11 pm

Reading that back, it seems like a harsh judgment. Perhaps I meant the second rank of the first-rate!

Never read any Bates, what would you recommend? I see he wrote The Darling Buds of May - I never even realised that was an adaptation! I used to hate the TV show but maybe just because I was young and cynical.
fine words butter no parsnips

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6539
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: Somerset Maugham

Post by Antcliff » Tue May 13, 2014 9:40 pm

k-j wrote:Reading that back, it seems like a harsh judgment. Perhaps I meant the second rank of the first-rate!

Never read any Bates, what would you recommend? I see he wrote The Darling Buds of May - I never even realised that was an adaptation! I used to hate the TV show but maybe just because I was young and cynical.
I am reminded of the quote....somebody...that Bukowski was the best bad poet in the US, Mary Oliver the worst good poet. :D

Bates...gosh, it has been so long. I shall have to think. These threads of yours are tempting me to read some fiction K-J...and it has been years.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

RonPrice
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:04 am
antispam: no
Location: George Town, Tasmania, Australia
Contact:

Re: Somerset Maugham

Post by RonPrice » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:23 am

To keep this thread alive, to provide readers with a quote from Maugham, a quote I have found useful, and to wish you all well for 2015, I leave you with: "There are three rules for writing a novel or an autobiography. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.-Ron Price with thanks to Somerset Maugham in D. Brodie, Writing Changes Everything, St. Martin's Press, NY, 1997, p.15.
married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2014)

churinga
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 283
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:54 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Somerset Maugham

Post by churinga » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:24 am

I read 'Of Human Bondage' in my early 20's , 50 years ago. No idea what I would think of it now but I loved it then. I did try re-reading 'Secret Agent' by Conrad and found it over- described. 'Middlemarch',by George Eliot, the only other novel I have re-read in the last decade was great, such intelligence and insight into the human condition.

Post Reply