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The W. Somerset Maugham Thread

Discussion in 'Literary Fiction' started by Bick, Apr 22, 2015.

  1.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    My collection has the first 4 of those stories you cite and I agree they are all excellent especially The Fall Of Edward Bernard but I do not have The Man From Glasgow. I think Rain is probably the best story of his that I have read. I think Maugham is one of the best short story writers in English of the 20th century that I have have come across.

    Will you be purchasing any further volumes of his short stories? I don't know if you have the Vintage or Penguin (or other) edition but assuming it is one of those you may want to seek out the stories The Vessel of Wrath, The Verger, P & O, The Book-Bag, The Alien Corn, The Door Of Opportunity, The Letter, The Colonel's Lady and Jane.

    Cheers.
     
  2.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

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    Yes I think so, Gollum. Volume 2 contains seven of those particular stories I believe. I really enjoyed Volume 1 very much, but I'm just on a CJ Cherryh kick at present, so it might be a month or so. I'll post again when I obtain and read the next volume. There are 4 volumes in Maugham's "collected short stories" of course - and I'm reading the Vintage books.
     
  3.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    I look forward to reading your thoughts on those stories in particular then...:)
     
  4.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

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    Ordered it, with a voucher I received. Don't you love a voucher?
     
  5.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, receiving vouchers for stores you like to shop at is great because you get to choose what you really want rather than receiving another round of the proverbial socks or underwear...:)

    I don't think you'll regret reading more of Maugham. He doesn't necessarily receive the due recognition he deserves so it is always good to see someone actively promoting his work.
     
  6.  
    Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Well-Known Member

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    I read The Moon and Sixpence more than once. One thing I just could not buy was Strickland painting his finest work after he had become blind. Not possible - not like Beethoven composing after he was deaf. He could mentally hear the music and transcribe it onto paper. But how do you steer a paintbrush when you can't see where it's going? How do you mix colours accurately? Nahhh.
     
  7.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

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    Yes, that's a stretch - but its a novel and doubtless symbolic - I actually cannot recall it that well, so can't really comment, except to note that there do seem to be some successful blind painters, such as Esref Armagan and John Bramblitt.
     
  8.  
    Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Well-Known Member

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    OK I take it all back. These artists are incredible.
     
  9.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

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    I'm now reading W. Somerset Maugham's Collected Short Stories, Volume 2.

    Gollum - you were quite right about some of those stories you mentioned in the post above. The Vessel of Wrath is superb. I've also really enjoyed The Alien Corn, and Flotsam and Jetsam. If anything, I've enjoyed Flotsam and Jetsam most so far. I'm about 6 stories in so far. I was interested enough in these stories to look them up and learn more about them.

    The Vessel of Wrath has been made into a film for either the big screen or TV no less than 4 times it seems:
    • 1938 film: Vessel of Wrath, released in the U.S. as The Beachcomber, starred Charles Laughton as Ginger Ted, Elsa Lanchester as Miss Jones, Robert Newton as the Contrôleur, and Tyrone Guthrie as Reverend Jones.
    • 1954 film: The Beachcomber, starred Robert Newton as Ginger Ted, Glynis Johns as Miss Jones, Donald Sinden as the Resident, and Paul Rogers as Reverend Jones.
    • 1970 TV production: starred James Booth as Ginger Ted, Siân Phillips as Miss Jones, Ronald Lacey as the Contrôleur, and John Glyn-Jones as Reverend Jones.
    • 1980 TV production: titled Wilson's Reward starred Gerald S. O'Loughlin as Ginger Ted and Sandy Dennis as Miss Jones, renamed Martha James.
    And, I admit I had to look it up, but expression 'the alien corn' is biblical (from the book of Ruth) and was also used by Keats in his Ode to a Nightingale:
    Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
    She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
    ...



     
  10.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

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    This is Charles Laughton with Tyrone Guthrie in the 1938 movie:

    [​IMG]

    An interesting point to note for the eagle eyed: Robert Newton played the young Controleur in the '38 film, and Ginger Ted in the '54 film.
     
  11.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

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    I'm still reading Volume 2 of his Collected Short Stories, and loving it. I thought I'd just mention a story that, like The Man from Glasgow in Volume 1, belongs to the genre of wierd or supernatural tales, and therefore may be of particular interest to Chrons members: Lord Mountdrago. It's a nicely done story, that may or may not be 'weird', depending on interpretation, but it's certainly an interesting recommender.
     
  12.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    I've not read Lord Mountdrago before. I will have to look that up.

    I had forgotten about Flotsam and Jetsam. I remember it being one of his better stories but it has been a while since I read it. As I recall the story is a pretty vexed one full of rising tension set amidst an overwhelming feeling of trapped helplessness among the two key protagonists (husband and wife) that feels somewhat surreal in nature. In one interpretation at least it is a study of human baseness.

    Let me know your thoughts in particular on The Verger, The Colonel's Lady and Jane I note are all in that second volume you have...;)
     
  13.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

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    The Colonel's Lady was very good - very layered and quite touching. The colonel is very real and rather sad in his inability to appreciate his wife's art. I didn't care quite so much for The Verger - I felt it was a bit of a simple fable without as much depth as others he wrote - more like one of Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected than a Maugham piece, for me. Not read Jane yet - it's near the end of the book and I've taken a very brief hiatus to read some Golden Age SF.
     
  14.  
    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    I always liked The Verger: as you say, a simple tale, and none the worse for that.
     
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