Warning: A Man of Honour from General Books
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Never, absolutely never buy this:
Amazingly abominable reprint! Characters, dialogue and stage directions totally indistinguishable. Typos abound on every single page: numerous words are simply unreadable because of missing letters or brackets or figures or I know not what else.
Really unbelievable that such stupendous crap could ever have been published, let alone sold for something. I wouldn't have such rubbish in my library for free.
If somebody has any experience with other reprints of 'A Man of Honour', please share here.
Indeed, this topic may well serve as a general one about reprints of Maugham's early books which are either extremely difficult to find or monstrously expensive to buy, or both, in original editions.
Will post more later to share more information about other reprints.
I'm finding his early collections of short stories available second hand for reasonable prices (though not first editions); likewise his novels
Oddly enough, these are two self-confessed potboilers in Maugham's oeuvre - and I venture to claim the only potboilers. (The Magician is also close, but not quite enough.)
I've written a scathing review which I posted on all main Amazons. Do me a favour and copy-paste it anywhere you see ''A Man of Honour'' by General Books offered.
Nobody deserves the shock I've had the day before yesterday.
You know these glossy paperbacks, with a rose on the front cover. I have three of these and they are rather a mixed bag.
The Making of a Saint (1898), Maugham's second novel and one of the books he claimed to have been the worst he ever wrote. Rather lurid and wooden historical melodrama, the book is a strong candidate, but it is also quite readable and has some fine moments. Anyway, the Kessinger reprint is of an illustrated American edition from 1922. The illustrations are pretty terrible of course, but the text is more or less fine, clear and with the original layout preserved. The book is otherwise almost impossible to find. Maugham never allowed it to be reprinted in his lifetime and to the best of my belief nobody thought it worth reprinting later.
The Hero (1901), Maugham's third published and fourth written novel, and my personal favourite among his early books. Immature, to be sure, but with quite a number of hints from the mature Maugham. The Kessinger reprint is abonimable. It looks like a xeroxed copy of an early edition, very dark and definitely difficult to read.
There is a reprint of Norilana of this book which is quite excellent. No original edition's layout here, but the text is clean, well printed and there are no exasperating typos or lack of elementary formatting.
The Land of the Blessed Virgin (1905), Maugham's first travel book, written a great deal earlier than 1905, more or less a direct result of this momentous Spanish sojourn in 1897/98, immediately after the publishing of his first novel. Pretty purple and with unusually high degree of sightseeing stuff, the book is a very untypical Maugham, but as a period piece it is quite fascinating, and with not a few fine pages too. The Kessinger reprint is of First edition by Heinemann, not especially well done, often a bit too dark to be read comfortably. At least one page (p. 72 that is) is so blurred as to be unreadable.
There is a Heron edition of this travel book coupled with the early novel (ex-play) The Explorer - The Explorer / The Land of the Blessed Virgin - a handsome hardback as usual and with no printing problems whatsoever. The Explorer is pretty hard to find in novel form in good old edition; the play is exceedingly rare.
Two more or less early plays by Maugham - Landed Gentry (1910) and The Tenth Man (1909) - are available from Bibliobazaar as well done reprints of the First American Editions (Chicago, 1913). The printing is a trifle pale, but it's no big deal; the formatting and the text are exemplary and obviously an exact copy of the original. Both plays were omitted from The Collected Plays (1931-34, 6 vols.) of Maugham and are pretty hard (and pretty expensive) to find in original editions.
So much for reprints of Maugham's early books. With the exception of The Bishop's Apron (1906) and its corresponding play Loaves and Fishes (1904), which are all but unobtainable in any form, reprints included, all other of Maugham's early books have been nicely kept in print.
His first novel Liza of Lambeth (1897), his experimental novel The Merry Go Round (1904) and his black magic nonsense The Magician (1909) are all available from Vintage classics. So is Mrs Craddock (1902), a most scandolous at the time and generally considered to be Maugham's best among his early books by everybody but me.
His first short story collection Orientations (1899) is completely reprinted in Seventeen Lost Stories (1969) together with another 11 early treasures in the genre.
Maugham's early and perfectly obscure curtain raisers Marriages are made in Heaven (1897) and Mademoiselle Zampa (1897) are reprinted in the invaluable collection Traveller in Romance (1984).
Any additions, corrections, opinions, etc. are most welcome.
PS For all who care, A Man of Honour (as well as The Explorer) are actually available free online:
That said, the Nabu press reprint is far from brilliant but it is at least readable - except for p. 139 which is too blurred for the purpose. I'll get over it. But it is really nice to see proper spacing between the lines and stage directions written in italics.
Note that the above refers to the Nabu press reprint of ''A Tragedy in Four Acts''. Fascinatingly enough, there is second reprint of the same work, again by Nabu press, which is subtitled ''A Play in Four Acts''. I have no idea what the difference is, perhaps Maugham revised the play in the intervening years, but it is suspicious that the ''play'' is only 58 pages...
I have similar suspicions about this 58-pages version of A Man of Honour. That makes for less than 15 pages per one act; so it must be either abridged, considerably so, or printed in the horrifying way of General Books.
''Remember, Dr Jones, do not trust anybody.''