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Ashenden: The British Agent af W. Somerset…

Ashenden: The British Agent (original 1927; udgave 1951)

af W. Somerset Maugham

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1,0253320,079 (3.74)79
Roman om Secret Service's agenter under den første verdenskrig.
Titel:Ashenden: The British Agent
Forfattere:W. Somerset Maugham
Info:Avon (1951), Paperback
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

Ashenden : den hemmelige agent af W. Somerset Maugham (1927)


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Engelsk (31)  Spansk (1)  Catalansk (1)  Alle sprog (33)
Viser 1-5 af 33 (næste | vis alle)
Just a straight classic of early spy genre writing. So good. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Mar 8, 2024 |
The Agent Runner in WWI
Review of the Arni Books Kindle eBook edition (April 6, 2023) of the original Heinemann hardcover (1927)

Ashenden's official existence was as orderly and monotonous as a city clerk's. He saw his spies at stated intervals and paid them their wages; when he could get hold of a new one he engaged him, gave him his instructions and sent him off to Germany;

I became intrigued by W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) while reading Tan Twan Eng's historical fiction The House of Doors (2023) where the author is shown in 1921 Penang, Malaya gathering real life stories which were later fictionalized into the short story collection The Casuarina Tree (1926). I didn't want to jump into the latter until I had finished Eng's book [RTC] but I have had Ashenden on my TBR for the longest time, so I read it first.

Ashenden (1927) is of interest as it is quite the early precedent for the 1960s & later cynical spy novels of John le Carré, Len Deighton and others. Ashenden is a fictionalized version of Maugham himself, who did actually work for the British Secret Service in Switzerland and Russia during the First World War. The writer Ashenden is recruited as an agent runner by R, an otherwise nameless chief in British Intelligence. As mentioned in the above excerpt he is mostly just acting as a handler, paying off the actual spies and relaying messages. The assignments all end in failure with misunderstandings, botched assassinations, and bungled attempts at manipulation.

See full dustcover at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d9/Ashenden%E2%80%94first_edition_co...
Dustcover of the 1927 original Heinemann hardcover. Image sourced from Wikipedia and may be found at the following website: http://www.facsimiledustjackets.com/cgi-bin/fdj455/2315.html?id=mVxIWhnP., Fair use, Link.

I read one of the public domain Kindle eBook editions of which there are many. The book is in the public domain in Canada (perhaps not everywhere else) and can be read at Project Gutenberg or Faded Page. My edition has the original 16 chapters of the 1927 original. Some later editions group chapters together which are part of the same mission, resulting in 7 stories.

It may have been a bit of self-promotion, but Maugham later said that after the book was published Winston Churchill accused the author of contravening the Official Secrets Act, resulting in Maugham destroying 17 unpublished stories which presumably would have been a sequel.

Trivia and Link
Read an Analysis of Somerset Maugham's Ashenden (Note: Contains spoilers) by Nasrullah Mambrol, Literariness, May 8, 2022. ( )
1 stem alanteder | Nov 7, 2023 |
Quite an interesting collection of spy stories, all centered around Ashenden, openly based on Maugham himself who was a WWI spy. The stories flow into each other but could be read individually. Many unlikeable characters, colonial BS, racism, and antisemitism make some of the stories distasteful. Yet, overall I’m glad I read this. I’m intrigued by Maugham for some reason and I haven’t figured out why yet. ( )
  psalva | Aug 4, 2023 |
Because this is a WW1 spy story, I have shelved it under thriller-suspense but it is not actually either thrilling nor suspenseful. Ashenden, like Maugham himself, is a writer drafted into the Secret Service but his job is more one of observation than of danger or action. As Ashenden says:

"Being no more than a tiny rivet in a vast and complicated machine, he never had the advantage of seeing a completed action. He was concerned with the beginning or the end of it, perhaps, or with some incident in the middle, but what his own doings led to he had seldom a chance of discovering."

Thus the book is more a series of connected short stories than a single novel. Maugham's wonderful prose is a joy to read as usual. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
Basado en las experiencias de Somerset Maugham como agente secreto del espionaje británico en Europa durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, Ashenden se compone de una serie de relatos encadenados que reflejan a la perfección la rudeza y brutalidad del espionaje, sus intrigas y traiciones y, sobre todo, el absurdo de su existencia.
  Natt90 | Dec 12, 2022 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (24 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Maugham, W. Somersetprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Birdsall, DerekOmslagsdesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Peccinotti, HarriCover photographmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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To Gerald Kelly, R. A.
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It was not till the beginning of September that Ashenden, a writer by profession, who had been abroad at the outbreak of the war, managed to get back to England.
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Death so often chooses its moments without consideration.
. . . man has always found it easier to sacrifice his life than to learn the multiplication table.
Ashenden sighed, for the water was no longer quite so hot; he could not reach the tap with his hand nor could he turn it with his toes (as every properly regulated tap should turn) and if he got up enough to add more hot water he might just as well get out altogether. On the other hand he could not pull out the plug with his foot in order to empty the bath and so force himself to get out, nor could he find in himself the will-power to step out of it like a man. He had often heard people tell him that he possessed character and he reflected that people judge hastily in the affairs of life because they judge on insufficient evidence: they had never seen him in a hot, but diminishingly hot, bath.
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Roman om Secret Service's agenter under den første verdenskrig.

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