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external book reviews

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okt 1, 2010, 5:38 am

Here's a recent review of the old classic Cakes and Ale


okt 1, 2010, 10:32 am

This is not a book review actually, but an attempt of mine for compiling a kind of bibliography of Maugham's writings, together with some thoughts on his literary output and books about him:


Though it is currently in progress, it might be useful to somebody.

okt 1, 2010, 11:21 pm

wow, thank you. this is a very useful resource. I look forward to exploring it.

okt 2, 2010, 12:02 pm

a glowing review of Selina Hastings' new biography of Maugham, posted at Salon.com


okt 2, 2010, 1:37 pm

You're welcome. Yesterday I have updated the list of books about Maugham, but there are still some I haven't read yet.

In theory, there is supposed to be Part 2 dedicated to Maugham's personality and interests, but I have no idea when I'll write it. It is a great deal more difficult than the books.

As for Selina's book, I am afraid my review is going to be right on the other pole - which is quite typical for my (lack of) appreciation of Maugham biographies when I come to think of it.

okt 4, 2010, 6:32 pm

idiosyncratic (but positive) review of Of Human Bondage


okt 4, 2010, 11:23 pm

I am not quite sure this is the place for this one, for it is about both the book and the movie, but since it seems to be more about the book, I post it here.

An Indian friend's review of ''The Painted Veil'':


okt 5, 2010, 11:44 am

Now as I mention it, Sandhya has written reviews of "Of Human Bondage" (1915), "The Moon and Sixpence" (1919) and "Ten Novels and Their Authors" (1954) as well; the last one is indeed one of the most underrated books by Maugham, at least in my opinion. If any "Friends of Maugham" are interested in reading these reviews, they are right here:

"Ten Novels and Their Authors":

"The Moon and Sixpence":

"Of Human Bondage"

okt 5, 2010, 5:59 pm

Here is a review of Selina Hastings' book (actually it's more of a summary of Maugham's life, with a few comments on the biography itself.)


Waldstein, I have Ten Novels and their Authors, and plan to read it soon.... it looks very intriguing!

okt 6, 2010, 3:26 am

They say one of the signs of a great book is the variety of reactions it is capable of creating in different readers. Here is one truly amazing review of "Of Human Bondage" which invites us to burn the book:


The same fellow has also reviewed, less scathingly but hardly favourably, "The Moon and Sixpence":


This one has some interesting points, like, for example, the great art being not an expression primarily of feeling, as Maugham thought, but an expression of great ideas. For the record: Maugham once wrote (in "The Summing Up", if I am not mistaken) that if you use art to disseminate ideas you're not an artist but a propagandist; it is difficult to think why anyone would like to express ideas if he or she does not want them to spread as widely as possible. Anyway, long and complicated subject, but I'd rather agree with Maugham's point of view, probably out of prejudice, in favour of him and against the author of the aforementioned reviews.

okt 7, 2010, 7:31 pm

another review/ summary of Selina Hastings' biography


okt 11, 2010, 11:39 am

okt 12, 2010, 4:31 pm

modern appreciation of Cakes and Ale


okt 29, 2010, 1:34 pm

My dear friend Sandhya reflects on "Theatre" and "Being Julia"


nov 8, 2010, 2:50 pm

Praise-filled review of Selina Hastings' recent biography


dec 6, 2010, 2:01 pm

Couple of reviews by two guys of various novels, including The Merry-Go-Round:


dec 6, 2010, 8:52 pm

very interesting Waldstein... lots of novels explored there

dec 7, 2010, 8:50 am

Thanks for the links to these reviews, Waldstein. I read all of them since I consider myself a Maugham "beginner" and would like to know what some of Maugham's novels are about. These reviews are a great start.

dec 7, 2010, 10:39 am

#16 ditto, thank you, Waldstein for that site address. This reviewer seemed a little kinder to MERRY-GO-ROUND than the views expressed by those in our group. Always good to get another point of view.

dec 7, 2010, 3:06 pm

sholofsky, I agree with the principle you state. If everyone saw things the same way, (a) we'd have nothing to discuss and (b) what a boring world this would be. I love to hear views diametrically opposed to my own, since that makes me question things I might otherwise have overlooked.

dec 15, 2010, 12:34 am

Here's the issue: I love book reviews. Always have. I love to read what other people think of books I've read, books I might someday read, and books I probably will never find the time to read. It's one of many reasons I like LT. So I was very interested to discover the Critical Heritage series, which collects and compiles reviews of famous authors' works. And I was especially pleased to find that there are copies of the Critical Heritage series on WS Maugham at prices that are quite reasonable


Because the reviews are contemporaneous with each novel, play, and collection, one can see how critics responded to Maugham's works at the time he was producing them.. before he was at all known, as his fame was spreading, and after he became a Grand Old Man of letters.

I do recommend the series, which has extended to numerous well known authors. However, other than for the books on Maugham, Orwell, and EM Forster, I was dismayed to see the prices for some of the other authors.

feb 12, 2011, 12:17 pm

feb 12, 2011, 8:16 pm

New York Review of Books review of Jeffrey Meyer's biography


feb 12, 2011, 8:31 pm

These passages caught my eye in the above review:

Yet the real secret Maugham was covering up, one feels, was not that he was homosexual, but that he was a romantic, hungry for surrender. Release, not repression, is his theme. Nearly all his characters harbor unconventional desires, but these have little to do with their sexual inclinations, and a lot to do with their longings to be artists, or lovers, or saints.

Maugham lived, you could say, on the edge of wildness, and the excitement of his books arises partly from our sense that the man who is so calmly appraising all the delusions of love is, in fact, in thrall to them himself (or wants to be).

Toward the end of Cakes and Ale, one of his best evocations of the literary world, Maugham’s loyal narrator Ashenden, contemplating some pictures of the writer whose life he has been chronicling, observes:

"The real man, to his death unknown or lonely, was a wraith that went a silent way unseen between the writer of his books and the fellow who lived his life, and smiled with ironic detachment at the two puppets that the world took for Edward Driffield."

As so often in Maugham’s work, you can substitute “Somerset Maugham” for the proper name in the sentence, and end up with a bitter, poignant truth.

feb 25, 2011, 8:01 pm

this is an LT review of 'Of Human Bondage', notable only because of the extensive quotes from the book. I enjoyed rereading them