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The Razor's Edge (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) Paperback – Mar 27 1992

4.6 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (March 27 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140185232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140185232
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,454,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"The modern writer who has influenced me the most." - George Orwell

"One of my favourite writers." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"A writer of great dedication." - Graham Greene --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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The Bookcassette® format is a special recording technique developed as a means of condensing the full, unabridged audio text of a book to record it on fewer tapes. In order to listen to these tapes, you will need a cassette player with balance control to adjust left/right speaker output. Special adaptors to allow these tapes to be played on any cassette player are available through the publisher or some US retail electronics stores. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
The Razor's Edge is a tale of one man (Larry) who was born and brought up in US, spend many years in Europe, first flying aircrafts in WW I and later living an idiosyncratic existence where he searched for purpose and ambition through books, languages and labor. He later travels to India, and finds solace in the Hindu philosophy, where he also learns how to medidate and be at peace with oneself and the world. Maugham writes a very accurate and engaging account of Hinduism.

The novel explores the relationship of various people. The author as a part of story travels in and out of the life of Larry and his friends, and through several conversations that occur intermittenly recreates the story of Larry, Isabel, Gray, Elliot and Sophie. Isabel loves Larry, but Larry's insistance on choosing to loaf and search for the meaning of life and his purpose (and hence living a poor life) and marries Gray, the multimillionaire. Without divulging much details of the story, one can say that the author does a good job in making his characters real and interesting, and presents through them an array of human emotions.
The Razor's edge is also a social commentary, and Maugham opens a window into the lifes and times of early twentieth century Upper classes, their constant striving for popularity and for materialistic pleasures, their hopes, and failings. The story is written in a sentiment and style that makes this discussion and critique on classes as invisible score playing somewhere in background.
In modern context of the philosophy of science, as say Capra in his Tao of Physics points out, or read Complexity by Waldrop, Eastern and especially Indian ageold wisdom and philosophy resonantes with the new contexts and paradigms in science.
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Format: Paperback
Surprisingly simple yet deep novel displaying some of the finest skills of the revered Mr. Maugham. He attempts to objectively recount the life events of a seemingly ordinary person - Larry Darrell, who, having passed through some mind-transforming experiences during the war, is seeking god. "You are a very religious man who doesn't believe in God", tells him a wise Christian monk. His quest is granted with an experience powerful enough to motivate the reader into self-reflection and - possibly - changing a few takes on day-to-day life.
The novel reads extremely easy, with enough twists of the plot to maintain the reader's interest until the very end. Several twists embedded by the author in his 3-D, life-size characters amazed me beyond belief.
Another thing I feel compelled to praise the author for is his "neutrality", or non-judgmental attitude to life and people.
And lastly, the English language "The Razor's Edge" is written with is simply exquisite.

P.S. I had recommended this book to a friend of mine, and she just came back to tell me how breathtakingly great it was!
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Format: Hardcover
Yet the writing is so full that we can feel part of this other world.

I came to this story by the back door. My first introduction to Somerset Maugham was through the movie "The Razor's Edge" (1946) staring Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell. I have no idea as to how much it was adapted from the book. Then in 1984 we watched Bill Murray as Larry Darrell. This film lost what magic the 1946 film had. So it was time to read the book. Yes I know very few films can do more than present the essence of a book. Turns out that even the older film wrote Summerset out of some of the scenes.

Larry is back from the war (WWI). As with many of us he is left with nagging questions about why one person lives and another must die. This problem leads Larry to search for the answers. He turns down opportunities and takes up a lifestyle to help him find answers. This story is told or narrated by Somerset Maugham himself. In the book Somerset takes more of an active part in the story. Larry came as close as any of us to the answer he seeks and we leave him much the same way one enters and leaves your life.
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Format: Paperback
Character, character; this book is about personalities and their symbolism. The narrator voice is the author’s and he speaks to the reader, in one case, to bring attention to a fine nuance that could be missed. This is similar to EM Forrester’s A Room with a View. Both writers were looking to change society with their writings.

That is the implicit message the character Larry conveys, who is the protagonist, found his life answers outside the status quo in eastern mysticism. At the time of writing this was ground breaking that a westerner would embrace a eastern religion. The other characters, the lost generation in Paris, and even the walk on shadow characters show various positions symbolic of the status quo and positions challenging it.

Maugham’s view depicts spirituality as the ultimate answer, but he critics traditional Christianity and calls spirituality personal as portrayed in Larry who gets a happy ending compared to the other characters. I found Maugham’s writing to slow for my taste and his implicit message ‘old hat,’ because nowadays that message is common place and the changes have come about. Read it for the literature.
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