Trivia quiz

Snakfriends of Maugham

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Trivia quiz

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okt 4, 2010, 11:37 pm

If someone feels like playing a silly game, this is the place.

The rules are two, and very simple:

1) You ask a question. The first guy with the right answer asks the next one.

2) All questions must be linked in one way or another with Somerset Maugham

Here's something's easy to begin with:

Where does the title ''Cakes and Ale'' come from?

okt 5, 2010, 10:28 pm

I now know the answer, but I had to look it up. Is it cheating to do so?

okt 6, 2010, 12:06 am

No, of course not.

okt 6, 2010, 11:39 am

I knew , I knew!!!

okt 6, 2010, 2:38 pm

ok zasmine, then you should get the honor of giving the answer, and posting the next query

nov 19, 2010, 9:38 pm

"Somerset Maugham drew more than one title from Shakespeare. His novel Cakes and Ale is derived from the coaxing remark by Sir Toby Belch to the gullible Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous / There shall be no more cakes and ale”. ...Another of his novels, The Razor's Edge, drew its title from lines of Love's Labour's Lost. The lines are “The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen /As is the razor's edge invisible / cutting a smaller hair than may be seen / Above the sense of sense.”

Redigeret: nov 20, 2010, 8:28 am

Quite right, at least about Cakes and Ale.

I am not sure about The Razor's Edge though. Maugham's own epigraph is taken from the Katha Upanishad and seems to be more relevant to the novel:

The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.

Anyway, your turn.

dec 15, 2010, 2:45 pm

ok, my turn. Here's the question: what is the origin of the book title "The Moon and Sixpence" ?

Redigeret: dec 16, 2010, 10:18 am

"so busy yearning for the moon he never saw the sixpence at his feet", description of Philip Carey in a review of OF HUMAN BONDAGE. Similar reference in 1956 Maugham letter. Sorry, Dan, I cheated--intrigued me, so I looked it up. Great question, though. Let me try: what is being referred to by THE PAINTED VEIL? General answer accepted.

dec 16, 2010, 2:24 pm

looking things up is fine! not cheating at all. sholofsky, you win today's prize.

dec 17, 2010, 10:33 am

"The Painted Veil": phrase from a sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, written 1818.

"Lift not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread--behind lurk Fear
And Hope, twin Destinies; who ever weave
Their shadows, o'er the chasm, sightless and drear.

(Had to look it up.)

dec 17, 2010, 11:07 am

#11 Congrats, s4sando! Your turn, my friend.

Redigeret: dec 17, 2010, 7:10 pm

O.K. Here is an easy, easy one:

Many of Maugham's stories and some novels are set in Blackstable and nearby Tercanbury. Which real towns in the U.K. did he use as models for these fictional settings?

dec 17, 2010, 7:17 pm

I would suppose the harrowing locations of Maugham's childhood: Whitstable and Canterbury.

Redigeret: dec 17, 2010, 7:36 pm

Correct! O.K., now Waldstein, your turn and I have a feeling that yours won't be an easy one! (LOL)

dec 17, 2010, 7:44 pm

Indeed I have in mind one which might be a little difficult perhaps; but it might be interesting for somebody too.

Blackstable is something like Maugham's trademark and he made it world famous with Of Human Bondage (1915) and Cakes and Ale (1930).

But do you know which is the first place where Maugham used the name 'Blackstable'?

Redigeret: dec 17, 2010, 10:29 pm

I believe that Mr. Maugham's the first mention of Blackstable was in the short story "Daisy", written in 1899 and published that year in his collection "Orientations".

"Orientations" contained six stories that WSM wrote from age 18 onward. He purposefully excluded them from his collected works on the basis that they were better off forgotten. None of the "complete short story" collections includes Daisy, and it was not reprinted until publication of Seventeen Lost Stories in 1969, after Maugham's death.

Daisy is available online to anyone who wants to read an amusing tale.

Maugham was of course just starting out, but it's interesting to see features that characterized the mature writer that he eventually became.

first paragraph

It was Sunday morning--a damp, warm November morning, with the sky overhead grey and low. Miss Reed stopped a little to take breath before climbing the hill, at the top of which, in the middle of the churchyard, was Blackstable Church. Miss Reed panted, and the sultriness made her loosen her jacket. She stood at the junction of the two roads which led to the church, one from the harbour end of the town and the other from the station. Behind her lay the houses of Blackstable, the wind-beaten houses with slate roofs of the old fishing village and the red brick villas of the seaside resort which Blackstable was fast becoming; in the harbour were the masts of the ships, colliers that brought coal from the north; and beyond, the grey sea, very motionless, mingling in the distance with the sky.... The peal of the church bells ceased, and was replaced by a single bell, ringing a little hurriedly, querulously, which denoted that there were only ten minutes before the beginning of the service. Miss Reed walked on; she looked curiously at the people who passed her, wondering....

dec 18, 2010, 7:39 am

Spectacular answer. And a correct one too. Your turn.

dec 18, 2010, 9:50 am

#17 my kudos, too, Dan. Impressive.

dec 18, 2010, 7:51 pm

ok, here's a question that's not so hard, especially for the film buffs.

Name the story and the character.

dec 18, 2010, 8:06 pm

#20 RAIN, Sadie Thompson? Looks like the 1932 version with Joan Crawford.

Redigeret: dec 19, 2010, 12:54 am

yes, sholofsky, you win the prize. For those not familiar with the film (and I am among them), the gramophone is a good hint; besides, the character shown by that face and pose could hardly be anyone but poor Sadie, of Maugham's most famous short story Rain. This particular movie however, is the 1928 silent film, with Gloria Swanson, visible here (down the page)

your turn to post a question, my friend.

dec 19, 2010, 2:08 pm

#22 Thanks, Dan, for picking one I actually didn't have to look up! My turn, huh? Let's see... What one-legged actor starred in both filmed versions of a Maugham short story. Hint: he was also in the 1946 RAZOR'S EDGE.

dec 19, 2010, 2:54 pm

uh, Captain Ahab? :-)

dec 19, 2010, 3:06 pm

LOL! Let me drop another hint: the short story in question was also turned into a play.

dec 21, 2010, 10:21 am

c'mon, someone has to be able to solve sholofsky's puzzle, especially one of you film afficionados.

Redigeret: dec 21, 2010, 11:06 am

Since I'm not exactly a film afficionado, I had to cheat quite a bit using IMDB. Finally, I have reached the conclusion that the actor in question must be Herbert Marshall. I didn't have even the slightest idea that he had only one leg - two, if we count the wooden one.

I remember him well in The Razor's Edge. Tremendous performance! He was a really perfect Maugham; though without any stammer, he was a wonderful personification of what Maugham declared to be his favourite attitude to life: humorous resignation.

I didn't know he starred twice in The Letter either, and playing different parts at that: in 1929 he was the murdered lover and in 1940 he was the cuckoled husband. It would have been quite fascinating if he had starred in a third version as the shrewd lawer too.

Thanks a lot for this amazing question, sholofsky. I've learned quite a lot new things and am now determined to view these two versions of The Letter.

I don't know if the above is correct, and if it is, whether is acceptable or not.

Redigeret: dec 21, 2010, 11:21 am

Perfectly correct, Waldstein, and congratulations, my friend! While I have not seen the 1929 version of THE LETTER, I can certainly vouch for the 1940 version, my pick for the finest cinematic translation of a Maugham work. And I second your praise of Marshall as Maugham in RAZOR'S EDGE--"humorous resignation" to a T. Your turn.

dec 21, 2010, 11:47 am

Something easy for the short story buffs.

Which is the only short story with Ashenden as a character which is not part of the volume Ashenden (1928)?

dec 22, 2010, 2:05 pm

Here is a joker: the story was filmed for Trio (1950), with the excellent Roland Culver as Ashenden.

dec 22, 2010, 2:24 pm

From having just read the Ashenden stories, my off the cuff guess was going to be The Flip of a Coin. However, that doesn't strike me as much material for a movie. I'm going to think on it more (without looking it up), but would welcome another contributor's answer

Redigeret: dec 22, 2010, 2:44 pm

I can give another joker. The Flip of a Coin was the only chapter from Ashenden which was omitted when the others were merged into longer short stories to be published in the collected editions. There the mysterious short story was usually close to the Ashenden stories from the eponymous volume.

In the beginning I thought to ask which is the only short story with Ashenden as a character which has nothing to do with espionage, but then I reflected that there is at least one in the book Ashenden (His Excellency) which has nothing to do with spies.

For what it's worth, the short story in question was first published in magazine ten years after the other Ashenden stories were published in a book (1938 that is) and in book form appeared for the first nine years after that, as part of Maugham's last collection Creatures of Circumstance (1947).

dec 22, 2010, 4:15 pm

Sanitorium? I have to say, Waldstein, your comment about the film TRIO was the clue I needed. The Ashendon stories are the only ones I haven't read yet, and the others I read decades ago, and only a few favorites are fresh in my mind--so without your hint I would have been lost. That is, if I'm correct. A great question, though.

dec 22, 2010, 7:16 pm

sholofsky, congratulations, you must be correct. My mind must have been miles away when I read Waldstein's question (I thought he asked which Ashenden story hadn't been included in the collected short stories).

dec 23, 2010, 5:11 am

You're quite correct, sholofsky - as I expected you would be after the Trio-joker. Your turn of course.

To finish with this strange story, Sanatorium - which everybody knows (and Maugham himself says so in the movie) was based on his own experience in a Scottish sanatorium in the end of the FWW but had to wait some two decades to be written down - here are two great quotes from it:

(It was not for nothing that in the movie Maugham suggested that we might just want to accept the character of Ashenden as a flattering portrait of the old party that we see on the screen.)
People often said he had a low opinion for human nature. It was because he did not always judge fellows by the usual standards. He accepted, with a smile, a tear, or a shrug of the shoulders, much that filled others with dismay.

(And Ashenden speaks quite a bit like Maugham too.)
You're not the first rake who's fallen to innocence. It's merely the sentimentality of middle age.

dec 23, 2010, 6:00 am

Thanks, Dan. Thanks, Waldstein. Coming up with a suitable quiz question is getting more and more difficult because so much of my obscure information about Maugham I got from you guys! Still, I'll try. This may be an easy one...I think. In a play by Maugham a short anecdote from another source was recounted--from that anecdote a famous American author took a quote and used it as a title for his first and most acclaimed novel. The quote has since become relatively famous. The novel was published in 1934. Who is the American novelist and what is the title of his novel?

Redigeret: dec 26, 2010, 12:57 pm

After swimming in the vast ocean of the Web for some time, I will venture a haphazard suggestion: Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara?

Apparently, the title was inspired by Maugham's retelling an old story (from One Thousand and One Nights, some say) in his last play, Sheppey (1933), where The Death herself speaks:

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

Great story and terrific question.

dec 26, 2010, 1:19 pm

Terrific solution! Congratulations, Waldstein. I was at the point of handing out more clues, but you beat me to it. Your turn, sir.

dec 26, 2010, 1:26 pm

I have prepared a very difficult question:

How many times did Maugham read Don Quixote?

As a compensation for the flippancy, I am giving a great hint: at least if his own claim in Ten Novels and Their Authors is true.

dec 26, 2010, 4:36 pm

As I recall, Maugham says in Ten Novels... that he had read Don Quixote three times. It made an impression on me, as I've only sampled it, and that in a college course; yet I have a friend who reads it (or parts thereof) every year.

so my guess is "3".

dec 27, 2010, 6:20 am

You got it right at least partly. He did read it three times in Spanish - and twice more in English. All of them, unbeliavable as it may seems, from cover to cover.

Or so Maugham claims in the absorbing introductory chapter of the book, The Art of Fiction, and in defence of his highly reprehensible practice of skipping.

Anyway, your turn.

Redigeret: dec 27, 2010, 10:28 am

#40 The irony is delicious, Dan, for someone who's read LAST OF THE MOHICANS three times. Mark Twain might also have said, quoting Waldstein, "now read it 'twice more in English'." :-)

dec 27, 2010, 9:47 pm

At first I thought my memory of Ten Novels... must have failed me, but now I see that it did not. Indeed, the discrepancy between Waldstein's answer and my own brings to light an interesting situation.

I own the first edition of Ten Novels and Their Authors, published in 1948, in which Maugham states in his discussion of Don Quixote:

It is a great and important book, and a professed student of literature should doubtless read it once through (I myself have read it from cover to cover three times)...."

Now I see (as revealed by Waldstein's post) that in a later edition of this same work, published in 1955, he wrote a new introduction. This later introduction was included in Maugham's Selected Prefaces and Introductions with no hint that it was modified from the original one. Here Maugham states:

I have myself have read it from cover to cover twice in English and three times in Spanish

Thus, we are led to conclude that prior to 1948 Maugham had read Don Quixote three times, and in the ensuring 7 years, he read it twice more. (We cannot tell in which language he read it when, but from the numbers at least one of the earlier readings was in Spanish -- when he lived in Spain in the late 1800s perhaps?).

In any case, my answer and Waldsteins are both understandable in their historical context. It may well be that both answers are underestimates. If Maugham's love of this work continued, one wonders if he didn't read it again in his last decade of life.

Redigeret: dec 27, 2010, 11:08 pm

A little off-topic, but amusing to find our old friend Ashenden narrating CAKES AND ALE! I had read it so long ago I'd forgotten he was CAKES' nom de plume. Too bad so many of us are focussing on CAKES AND ALE at the moment--would have made a great quiz question.

Dan and Waldstein, look at it this way, a Maugham trivia quiz first: more than one correct answer, the question that keeps on giving!

Redigeret: dec 28, 2010, 5:17 am

Fascinating points, Daniel. I was not aware of the earlier reference from 1948. I would venture a suggestion that Maugham did not in the least read the novel in the intervening years, but was careless about numbers as usual. In 1948 he probably meant ''3 times in Spanish'', but in 1954 he remembered that he actually read the book twice more in English.

It is funny to speculate when exactly did Maugham read Don Quixote in English? He was fluent in Spanish since he spent half an year or so in Spain, and that happened immediately after Liza was published when Maugham was 23-24 years old. It beggars belief that he read in English something he could easily have read in original language. He might have devoured the novel twice in English during his student years, who knows.

Another interesting question is whether Great Novelists and Their Novels (1948) and Ten Novels and Their Authors (1954) should be considered as separate books. I have yet to compare them carefully, but the introductory chapter seems to have been rewritten somewhat extensively, though there are of course some repetitions verbatim. But on the basis of the essay about Jane Austen, the only one I did compare in both books, I think Maugham merely expanded the other chapters, mostly with more biography. The very last chapter of Ten Novels and Their Authors is the only one that was specifically written for the later book: a most amusing summing-up in the form of imaginary literary party.

I stand corrected, Daniel. You answer is, not partly, but perfectly correct. We may blame Maugham for his inconsistency with details; rather typical for him.

PS To make the matters with the different books even more complicated, it seems, if Maugham's bibliographer R. T. Stott is to be believed, that Ten Novels and Their Authors was first published in America (Doubleday, 1955) as Art of Fiction: and Introduction to 10 Novels and their Authors; it's often referred to as Art of Fiction only, but it is not the introduction in pamphlet form as one might be lead to believe.

Of the revision Mr Stott has written:

Considerable new material has been added, the introduction has been extended, and there is an interesting new chapter in which the authors sums up the whole field of creative literary activity - a subject that has always held for him a singular fascination.

Apparently, Maugham thought the early essays written in haste and rather perfunctory, so he expanded them - which I am not sure was a good idea. As is well known, all ten pieces were originally written as introductions to abridged (by Maugham) versions of the ten novels; these were published by Winston in 1948-49 (no English edition). Nine of the essays appeared in Atlantic Monthly between November 1947 and July 1948.

Redigeret: dec 28, 2010, 11:42 am

Waldstein, thanks for your post, which was not only erudite but generous. thank you my friend, but your answer was more correct than mine, and what's more, as I now realize, Great Novelists and Their Novels is not the same as Ten Novels and their Authors. (You of course referenced the latter in your hint to the question, and I took it to refer to the former).

One outcome is that we now recognize that these are in some ways different works -- analogous to how Maugham rewrote a few of his short stories and republished them under separate titles. It might be interesting to compare the two in more details.

As to when Maugham read Don Quixote, do you happen to know whether he was sufficiently fluent in Spanish to have read it during his early residence there? I ask because DQ is not for beginners!

Wouldn't it be great to stumble on an unpublished diary of Maugham's readings over the years; it might be revealing. Of course this is only a fantasy, since I have no reason to think he was the sort of person to keep one, and even if he had, it would have been burned along with his notes and correspondence by Alan Searles and himself in his later years.

But I do know it would contain countless numbers of the "detective stories" he read during his long residence at the Villa. Maugham knew and appreciated great literature, but being the opposite of a literary snob, I infer that he could enjoy the junk fiction of his day as much as the rest of us enjoy ours.

dec 28, 2010, 12:54 pm

I guess Don Quixote is a tough read, yes; have horrible memories from school - and we ''studied'' it in translation of course. I think it unlikely that Maugham read it during his first sojourn in Spain; for one thing, as you suggest, he probably didn't know the language well enough; for another, he was quite busy being absolutely free only for second time in his life (after Heidelberg) and he was busy writing short stories and probably the first drafts of what later became The Land of the Blessed Virgin and Of Human Bondage.

Maugham and languages is another quite interesting of facet his personality worthy of detailed investigation. I really don't know when he knew Spanish well enough to tackle a work like Cervantes' masterpiece, but I can make some highly speculative guesses. It is probably certain to assume that by 1935, when Don Fernando was first published, Maugham already knew the language pretty well, having visited the country at least twice meanwhile (1903 and 1933). I think his last visit was as late as 1954. I daresay it is possible that he actually did read Don Quixote after 1948, if we assume that he was able to speak Spanish more or less perfectly by the middle 1930s, but he might well have known it very well much earlier. It's anybody's guess really.

I really have to re-read Don Fernando, something I have wanted to do for quite some time but always something else has come up. I am also sure comparing both versions of his ''ten best'' would prove an interesting experience; maybe next year I'll do it.

It is funny that you should mention detective stories. I have been re-reading these days again and again Maugham's essay The Decline and Fall of the Detective Story. Truly stupendous fun! Maugham was confirmed detective story buff and, as usual, he makes me eager to try writers I have never read before, in this case Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but there is really no chance for that just right now, alas. Maybe next year, at least The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, both movies being among my favourites with Humphrey Bogart.

Talking about Maugham's reading diary (pity he didn't left any indeed), in this essay comes one shocking confession: Maugham never read more than ''chapter here and there'' from Gibbon's Decline and Fall. What a shame, Willie! You should have followed the example of your dear friend Winston who devoured all volumes from cover to cover in his youth.

Anyway, to continue our trivia, though digressions are most welcome (and quips too: the one about Captain Ahab was absolutely brilliant; laughed my head off), I'll accept that my answer to my question was more correct and will give the next one. This time the source is any Maugham biography one wish to check: they all mention the answer.

Since we're talking of detective stories, it might be interesting to recall that Maugham's essay The Decline and Fall of the Detective Story was - apparently - written for an influential magazine edited by an eminent critic who finally decided that, though good enough for the magazine, the essay was not ''quite good enough'' for him and turned it down. Which was the magazine and who was its editor?

dec 28, 2010, 1:23 pm

Great question, Waldstein. Let me take a stab. I know Edmund Wilson famously disparaged detective fiction in a series of NEW YORKER columns, so my first guess would be THE NEW YORKER magazine and the critical eminence Edmund Wilson?

dec 28, 2010, 1:40 pm

I am sorry, sholofsky, but neither the magazine nor the critic match. But a good try, especially considering Wilson's personal animosity towards Maugham, so eloquently expressed on the pages of New Yorker. Give it another ''stab'' (lovely word that).

dec 28, 2010, 5:41 pm

This is a toughie. Definitely have to call in reenforcements. Dan?

Redigeret: dec 28, 2010, 11:13 pm

Ah, I think I can handle this one. It was Cyril Connolly who started Horizon (considered the leading literary magazine of England), and who purportedly solicited the article. To quote one source, Connolly turned it down "on the spurious grounds that 'it would do nothing to add to its author's reputation' ". He told another person "I don't say this is a bad article. It's good enough to be accepted for Horizon but not quite good enough for me to publish."

I don't know the subtext, but I wonder if Connolly's reaction was an attempt to put WSM "in his place". How can an article be good enough for Connolly's magazine, but not good enough for its editor? I don't believe for a moment that he rejected the article out of a wish to protect Maugham's reputation, as evidenced by his catty remark.

dec 29, 2010, 4:17 am

You've scored a bullseye, Daniel. -:)

Your turn.

feb 12, 2011, 12:27 pm

ok, it's been a while, but here we go.

What was an original title that WSM contemplated for his book Of Human Bondage? (I mean the actual novel, not its unpublished forerunner "The Trials of Philip Carey").

There are actually two answers one can give.

feb 12, 2011, 1:20 pm

The champ returns! Great question, Dan. Of course, I would have been lost without...Wikipedia. BEAUTY FROM ASHES. What was the other title?--Wiki didn't list it.

feb 12, 2011, 8:23 pm

ah, sholofsky, you get the prize. But let's see if someone can come in second with the other title. It was far more pedestrian than Beauty from Ashes. :-)

feb 12, 2011, 8:44 pm


feb 19, 2011, 6:00 pm

sholofsky has won the trivia quiz question. An originally proposed title for "Of Human Bondage" was indeed "Beauty from Ashes." This is a title that Maugham himself chose, after rejecting various alternatives:

The Road Uphill
The Broad Road
A Winter's Day
The Day's March

and one that the publisher Heinemann had proposed

Life's Thoroughfare

The latter WSM thought to be commonplace. He settled on "Of Human Bondage", taken from a chapter in Spinosa's 'Ethics'.

Now I ask you: Would we be as likely to know of this great novel if it originally had been named "Life's Thoroughfare"?

In any case, sholofsky, you get to pose the next triva question!

feb 19, 2011, 6:34 pm

Thanks, Dan. WSM's unerring writer's instinct triumphs again, as I can certainly see the wisdom in his final title selection. "Does the title make the book," though, is certainly an interesting topic for some Lit. undergraduate's dissertation--or do we simply come to accept without question the title of a book that's universally admired? Personally, no bad titles for great books leap to mind, so perhaps the latter is true, afterall.

At any rate, to the business at hand. I don't know if this will be a tough one or not, but I found it interesting. Maugham always chose an initial for his first name William. In what classic novel of his is the possible reason for this revealed, and what might be the reason? I hope it's not cutting things too fine, but I'm looking for the literary answer, not any Maugham may have given in his autobiographical material or interviews.

feb 20, 2011, 7:48 pm

wow, this is going to be a tough one, for me at least. Let's see what others think

feb 21, 2011, 6:09 am

I think a hint is in order: the book is CAKES AND ALE.

mar 3, 2011, 12:41 am

ok, someone more familiar with Cakes and Ale than I am otta take a crack at this. Please don't make me look it up!

mar 3, 2011, 2:31 am

I hope other people are playing, Dan. Waldstein, s4sando, cammykitty? C'mon, you guys, give it a shot. Hint#2: it had to do with Ashenden's boyhood.

mar 3, 2011, 10:47 am

I've tried hard to remember anything that might possibly serve as an answer but without any success. Fine example that in great novels one can always find something that was overlooked during the last reading.

mar 5, 2011, 9:13 pm

I believe that the answer is that Maugham disliked the name "William" and thought it silly. (Why "Willy" is less "silly" than William I can't say). But in 'Cakes and Ale' the narrator Willie Ashenden thinks his first name ridiculous and dislikes his second name. Among the alternatives are Roderic Ravensworth and Ludovic Montgomery.

With these alternatives, I think Willy is having fun with us and perhaps poking fun at himself.

mar 5, 2011, 9:51 pm

#64 Close enough, Dan. As I recall, it was the nick-name "Willie" young Ashenden had a problem with, but congratulations. I just hope people didn't feel I was scraping the barrel with this one. Your turn, sir.

mar 5, 2011, 9:51 pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

jun 16, 2011, 10:08 pm

ok....... the movie The Beachcomber was made from what short story by Maugham?

jun 20, 2011, 9:17 am

I have tried to guess that from the movie, but somewhere in the middle I had to give up. So I will give it a shot from what I can remember from surfing the Web in search of Maugham trivia:

The Vessel of Wrath?

jul 11, 2011, 8:52 pm

yes, the Vessel of Wrath is right!

jul 12, 2011, 3:12 pm

One easy question. The last words of Walter Fane from the The Painted Veil are quotation from which poem by which poet?

The words in question are:

The dog it was that died.

And one hint: Maugham himself gives the answer in the novel, through the words of Waddington.

aug 30, 2011, 9:42 pm

this one stumped me, so I had to look it up. It is An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog, by Oliver Goldsmith.

This seems to put a whole new light on Walter's behavior, to me at least. Does this not imply that he expected Kitty to die? I've wondered and debated over his actions in exposing Kitty to danger. If I'm interpreting his words correctly, he knew exactly what he was doing, and expected her not to survive. Or is there another interpretation possible?

aug 31, 2011, 7:21 am

Quite correct, Daniel. Your turn.

It does seem so to me, too. Perhaps significantly, earlier in the novel Kitty did ask Walter point blank "Did you want me to die when you brought me here?" (or similar words to that effect), but he evaded the answer advising her to leave now, until she still can. Yet, no matter how he might have changed, his initial motives seem to have been quite similar to those in the story that apparently inspired Maugham. Very subtle of Maugham to give such a hint with the Elegy - and what an amazing sense of humour on Walter's side in his last minutes.

In this Elegy well-known among people for whom English is first language? I didn't know anything about it, of course, and it took me some time to find the complete poem, and all it implies. It fits the plot very neatly.

aug 31, 2011, 1:51 pm

I'm no expert on poetry, but for what it's worth had not heard of either the poem or its author. I suspect it's the sort of poem known to English Lit professors and occasional undergraduates. Of course, 100 years ago, poetry meant more and was more widely read, and I'd suspect that the first readers of The Painted Veil would have not found the allusion obscure as I did.

I have debated Walter's motives with a couple people, and we concluded that Maugham left them deliberately ambiguous. The meaning of the poem sheds new light on the issue. His motives and goals now seem to have been meant to be unclear earlier in the story, but resolved at the end. I guess if we modern readers had been more literate, we would not have been puzzled!

jun 1, 2012, 9:16 pm

an online quiz for lovers of Maugham's short stories

Redigeret: feb 14, 2015, 4:46 am

A visual quiz. Spot Willie:

King's School, fifth form, 1889.

feb 26, 2015, 6:03 pm

Since one of you was so rash as to say that digressions are welcome, I'd like to say that this is the most charming thread I've come upon on this site. And I'm not even a great fan of Maugham's.

Re his use of an initial rather than full given name, I can easily imagine schoolboys taunting and hugely embarrassing a William by calling him Willie. The latter is in this part of the world a slang term, most often used by children, for penis.

apr 5, 2015, 10:29 am

hi bluepiano, that's an interesting perspective. But while Maugham hated the name "William", and never responded to "Somerset", he insisted his friends call him "Willie" throughout his life.