Collected Short Stories Volume 1 Paperback – Dec 4 2001
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"Fascinating tales, sharply revealed characters, a fine narrative craft" -- J.B. Priestley "He was a superb storyteller - one of the very best in our language - who wrote with a wordly, sardonic understanding of the human condition. Writing was his life; everything else was secondary to it" Daily Mail
About the Author
William Somerset Maugham was born in 1874 and lived in Paris until he was ten. He was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and at Heidelberg University. He spent some time at St. Thomas' Hospital with the idea of practising medicine, but the success of his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, published in 1897, won him over to literature. Of Human Bondage, the first of his masterpieces, came out in 1915, and with the publication in 1919 of The Moon and Sixpence his reputation as a novelist was established. At the same time his fame as a successful playwright and writer was being consolidated with acclaimed productions of various plays and the publication of several short story collections. His other works include travel books, essays, criticism and the autobiographical The Summing Up and A Writer's Notebook. In 1927 Somerset Maugham settled in the South of France and lived there until his death in 1965
Top Customer Reviews
Every story started off in a fairly prosaic, nondescript fashion. But every story had me hooked by at least the first page. Sometimes they unfolded as funny stories, other were tales about how an individual's world had changed catastrophically. I never got bored, and the writing was never predictable, Maugham always had a surprisingly poetical observation to make that would send me into raptures. This is truly a writer of sensitivity and talent. I can honestly say that I have been searching for a writer of this calibre for a long time. If you care anything at all about the amazing stories that ordinary, little people have, then read this book and Maugham's other works. He truly is a master.
He managed to convey this without any political agenda or attempt to idealize the 'natives.' As far as the British colonials, he spared nothing, and yet his mockery and exposure of the epitome of `politically incorrect' was hardly a call for colonial overthrow. To the contrary, the calamitous occupiers were more condemned for their vulgarity than for their imperialism. In his personal life he made no bones about his general contempt for our species. Yet as a whole, these stories are often exquisitely, understated works of compassion and tenderness. Is this some kind of Jungian shadow?
Maugham would despise any such analysis, but the fact remains, these are the best short stories I've ever read. (V.S.Pritchet is second.) Reading Maugham is addictive, his plots and settings are exotic however that Anglo observer is straight up British. My own favorite is "A force of Circumstance." It depicts an almost biological racist reaction and features that universal troublemaker, sexual desire. His most famous, "Rain" is also a winner. Many people weigh in at the "Three Fat Women from Antibes." He is merciless in all of these and the twists in plot are simply brilliant. I only wish I could find some hidden treasure of ones I haven't read. Basically, I'm not a fan of the short story form, Maugham's writing is an exception. The end of his stories feels complete and absolute. He embodies what he is- a story teller. No postmodern 'suggestions of a resolution that cheats the reader. Furthermore, they're incredibly well written and (a feature that seems out of date) interesting. To paraphrase, you can't stop at one.Read more ›
The tales I liked the most are "Rain", about the unlikely relationship between a couple of puritan missionaries and a prostitute, "Before the party", about terrible marital secrets revealed right before an important party, and, above all, "The fall of Edward Barnard", simply a masterpiece of storytelling. First time I read it, I decided to become Edward Barnard myself. Go figure.
Maugham's style is anything but experimental. He is not trying to find a voice: he has one and he's pretty much sure about its value. And he's right. The way he uses words is the exact measure of craftmanship: not one word is missing, not one is futile. Precision, concision, wisdom, irony and humanism: the best mix for a reading. After you finish this, you'll go to the other three volumes, little by little, enjoying every story.
Most recent customer reviews
Forty years ago, as a teenager, I was hooked on Somerset Maugham. He is the master of not only the short story but the Saga type novel too. See 'Of Human Bondage'. Read morePublished on Aug. 16 2001 by christine m lindsay
This collection of stories clearly demonstrates the remarkable talent of this writer in a format that is his forte. Read morePublished on April 28 2001 by R. J. Marsella
W. Somerset Maugham in his always fascinating short stories explores such a variety of relational scenarios with "disinterested curiosity" as to leave this reader... Read morePublished on Oct. 20 1998
For me, just "The Fall of Edward Barnard" is worth the price of the book. It's sort of an early version of "The Razor's Edge" set in in Tahiti. Read morePublished on Jan. 9 1998