Pick some short stories for me!

Snakfriends of Maugham

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Pick some short stories for me!

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dec 8, 2010, 3:49 pm

I already owned them in Penguin paperback, but I could not resist buying the 4 volumes of collected short stories for my kindle. Perfect eReading!

I like jumping around when I read, so I intend to read them concurrently - could you all help me by selecting your favourite 4 or 5 stories from each volume for me to read first?

dec 8, 2010, 6:32 pm

dear Femmenoiresque, welcome to our group!

I'm sure you will get responses from other members. There are so many great stories, that it's hard to choose favorites. However, my short list would have to include the following:

The Outstation
The Pool
The Mirage (previously published as The Opium Addict)
The Door of Opportunity
Mr Know All
The Force of Circumstance,
and perhaps his best known story, Rain

dec 11, 2010, 9:22 am

Femme, to danielx' excellent list, I would add:

The Letter
The Book-bag
The Lotus-eaters

Happy reading and, likewise, welcome!

jan 9, 2011, 3:54 am

Thanks, peeps!

I have managed to *never* read Rain. Insane, I know!

jul 5, 2011, 4:09 pm

I would add The Verger and a rather odd one called The Creative Impulse. Odd, but Maugham at his witty best. And for pure perfection of character and plot, Winter Cruise. Cheers!

jul 17, 2011, 8:20 am

There is an older thread where some further suggestions can be found:


Redigeret: maj 12, 2012, 1:56 pm

I have just discovered a short story collection selected by Anthony Curtis himself, first published in 1990 and now available from Vintage.


It's an excellent one-volume introduction for newcomers. It contains the following:

1. The Pacific
2. Mackintosh
3. The Fall of Edward Barnard
4. Rain
5. Envoi
6. The Casuarina Tree
7. Before the Party
8. P & Q
9. The Letter
10. Mr Harrington's Washing
11. Sanatorium
12. The Princess and the Nightingale
13. The Round Dozen
14. Jane
15. The Alien Corn
16. The Door of Opportunity
17. The Vessel of Wrath
18. The Book-Bag
19. Salvatore
20. The Judgement Seat
21. Gigolo and Gigolette
22. The Colonel's Lady
23. The Kite
24. Daisy

As it might expected from Mr Curtis, the selection is quite excellent. There are some rarities, too, such as nos. 1, 5 and 6 (introductory/concluding pieces from his first two mature collections, long out-of-print) and one of his finest earliest stories, ''Daisy'', the first one to mention ''Blackstable'' and otherwise not very easy to obtain.

Almost all stories are of moderate to great length where Maugham is at his best. The exceptions are again well chosen: Maugham's only fairy tale (12), his parable about duty and happiness (20) and his finest tribute to goodness in so short a space (19).

The long stories are perfectly selected. There are exotic tales, both in the South Seas (2-4) and in the Far East (7-9, 16-18). And there are European tales, mostly set in England and Scotland (11, 13-15, 22, 23) but also on the Riviera (21).

Only two qualms do I have with the selection. ''Mr Harrington's Washing'' is hardly the finest of Ashenden's ''spy'' adventures. ''The Traitor'', ''The Hairless Mexican'' or ''Guilia Lazzari'' would have been better. And the omission of the story ''Virtue'' is unforgivable - and Mr Curtis knows it.

Anyway, you can't go wrong with this collection as a first choice. It's every bit as good as, if not better than, any of the four volumes of the ''Collected Short Stories''. It displays Maugham's full range: from harrowing drama to amusing satire.

Only the book actually seems to be a little hard to find, both the new Vintage edition and the old The Nonesuch Press/Reinhardt Books one from 1990. What a shame!

maj 13, 2012, 2:57 pm

Mr Curtis does it again. I greatly admire his earlier contributions to our understanding of Maugham, and now this collection will bring greater attention to Willie...