what would you recommend?

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what would you recommend?

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nov. 2, 2010, 10:00pm

I was asked by my cousin who has never read any of Maugham what I'd recommend as a place to start. I hesitated at Of Human Bondage since I suspect my love of that work is in part personal, and also due to its length. I suggested a collection of the far east short stories or The Painted Veil. What would any of you recommend to a new reader?

Editat: nov. 4, 2010, 10:03am

Thank you for an interesting question. It brings me back to my first introduction to Maugham and reminds me as to what of Maugham appealed most early on---to the extent that through the years he has remained one of my favorite writers.
Maugham first impressed me as a top-notch story teller who could spin out a tale with few, but potent, words and create scenes of realistic detail. He also focused on the inner lives of his characters and how these traits played out in their interactions. His themes, to me, focused on hypocrisy, control, social class structure and isolation. All these things are showcased in the short story "Rain" which is probably his best known story known story.
As a first novel, I would suggest Cakes and Ale as it is not too long and expands on the above themes but adds another Maugam device----he bases his characters on people he knows---or at least he tantalizes the reader to identify these characters as real people e.g. Driffel and his first wife=Thomas Hardy and his first wife, Roy Kear=Hugh Walpole.
Then I might say, read "The Outstation" to give a first reader a taste of the way Maugham deals with individual isolation and the catastrophe of psychological dis-connect set in a colonial atmosphere.
All of the above books are readily available and easily obtainable.

Editat: nov. 4, 2010, 1:45pm

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nov. 4, 2010, 1:46pm

Thanks for the recommendation. I must reread Cakes and Ale, as when I read it it made no great impression on me. I may well have not been in the right frame of mind, or with the patience and attention Maugham deserves.

I love The Outstation; it's not only in my top ten short stories by Maugham, but in the top three or so.

des. 4, 2010, 6:25pm

Depending on your cousin's patience as a reader, Dan, I would recommend THE RAZOR'S EDGE as a medium length novel that encapsulates Maugham's narrator-style, taste for the exotic, and gift for language and characterization all in a fairly contempory setting with a fast moving plot. If that's too long, THE NARROW CORNER and UP AT THE VILLA are excellent short novels. As for stories--I hate to sound like a broken record--but I would go with THE POOL, though THE OUTSTATION is a great choice, as well as THE BOOK-BAG with its interesting incest theme. Let us know how he or she fares.

des. 4, 2010, 8:37pm

thanks for the suggestion sholofsky. I got my cousin Far Eastern Tales as an introduction and he's enjoying it. Having since read the Trembling of a Leaf (which has marked overlap with the above), I'd recommend that, or one of the larger collections. I still put Of Human Bondage far above the other novels, but realize it's not for everyone. Razor's Edge seems a good suggestion of the more mature Maugham. And The Pool and Outstation are two of my favorite shorts!

ag. 16, 2017, 5:49pm

i recommend either the moon and six pence, a good SHORT WSM book or the razors edge, his best.