Книга: W. Somerset Maugham «The Summing Up»

The Summing Up

Производитель: "Vintage"

Серия: "Vintage Classics"

Autobiographical without being an autobiography, confessional without disclosing his private self, THE SUMMING UP, written when Maugham was sixty-four, is an inimitable expression of a personal credo. It is not only a classic avowal of a professional author`s ideas about style, literature, art, drama and philosophy, but also an illuminating insight into this great writer`s craft. ISBN:978-0-099-28689-9

Издательство: "Vintage" (2001)

Формат: 130x200, 320 стр.

ISBN: 978-0-099-28689-9

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W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham

Maugham photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1934
Born William Somerset Maugham
25 January 1874(1874-01-25)
UK Embassy, Paris, France
Died 16 December 1965(1965-12-16) (aged 91)
Nice, France
Occupation Playwright, novelist, short story writer
Notable work(s) Of Human Bondage
The Letter
The Razor's Edge

William Somerset Maugham (pronounced /ˈmɔːm/ mawm), CH (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and, reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s.[1]


Childhood and education

Maugham's father Robert Ormond Maugham was an English lawyer who handled the legal affairs of the British embassy in Paris, France.[2] Since French law declared that all children born on French soil could be conscripted for military service, his father arranged for Maugham to be born at the embassy, technically on British soil.[3] His grandfather, another Robert, had also been a prominent lawyer and co-founder of the English Law Society.[4] It was taken for granted that Maugham and his brothers would follow in their footsteps. His elder brother Viscount Maugham enjoyed a distinguished legal career and served as Lord Chancellor from 1938 to 1939.

Maugham's mother Edith Mary (née Snell) had tuberculosis, a condition for which her doctor prescribed childbirth.[5] She had Maugham several years after the last of his three older brothers; they were already enrolled in boarding school by the time he was three. The youngest, he was effectively raised as an only child.

Edith's sixth and final son died on 25 January 1882, one day after his birth, on Maugham's eighth birthday. Edith died of TB six days later on 31 January at the age of 41.[6] The early death of his mother left Maugham traumatized; he kept his mother's photograph by his bedside for the rest of his life.[7] Two years after Edith's death, Maugham's father died of cancer.

Maugham was sent back to England to be cared for by his uncle, Henry MacDonald Maugham, the Vicar of Whitstable, in Kent. The move was damaging, as Henry Maugham proved cold and emotionally cruel. The boy attended The King's School, Canterbury, which was also difficult for him. He was teased for his bad English (French had been his first language) and his short stature, which he inherited from his father. Maugham developed a stammer that would stay with him all his life, although it was sporadic and subject to mood and circumstance.[8]

Miserable both at his uncle's vicarage and at school, the young Maugham developed a talent for making wounding remarks to those who displeased him. This ability is sometimes reflected in Maugham's literary characters. At sixteen, Maugham refused to continue at The King's School. His uncle allowed him to travel to Germany, where he studied literature, philosophy and German at Heidelberg University. During his year in Heidelberg, Maugham met and had a sexual affair with John Ellingham Brooks, an Englishman ten years his senior.[9] He also wrote his first book there, a biography of opera composer Giacomo Meyerbeer.[10]

On his return to England, his uncle found Maugham a position in an accountant's office, but after a month Maugham gave it up and returned to Whitstable. His uncle set about finding Maugham a new profession. Maugham's father and three older brothers were all distinguished lawyers, and Maugham asked to be excused from the duty of following in their footsteps. A career in the church was rejected because a stammering minister might make the family seem ridiculous. His uncle rejected the civil service, not because of the young man's feelings or interests, but because his uncle concluded that the civil service was no longer a career for gentlemen; a recent law required applicants to pass an entry examination. The local doctor suggested the medical profession and Maugham's uncle agreed. Maugham had been writing steadily since the age of 15 and fervently wished to become an author, but as he was not of age, he refrained from telling his guardian. For the next five years, he studied medicine at St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth, London.


Early works

W. Somerset Maugham.

Some critics have assumed that the years Maugham spent studying medicine were a creative dead end, but Maugham felt the contrary. He was living in the great city of London, meeting people of a "low" sort whom he would never have met otherwise, and seeing them at a time of heightened anxiety and meaning in their lives. In maturity, he recalled the value of his experience as a medical student: "I saw how men died. I saw how they bore pain. I saw what hope looked like, fear and relief ..."

Maugham kept his own lodgings, took pleasure in furnishing them, filled many notebooks with literary ideas, and continued writing nightly while at the same time studying for his medical degree. In 1897, he presented his second book for consideration, Liza of Lambeth, a tale of working-class adultery and its consequences. It drew its details from Maugham's experiences as a medical student doing midwifery work in Lambeth, a London slum. The novel is of the school of social-realist "slum writers" such as George Gissing and Arthur Morrison. Frank as it is, Maugham wrote near the opening of the novel: "...it is impossible always to give the exact unexpurgated words of Liza and the other personages of the story; the reader is therefore entreated with his thoughts to piece out the necessary imperfections of the dialogue."[11]

Liza of Lambeth proved popular with both reviewers and the public, and the first print run sold out in a matter of weeks. This convinced Maugham, who had qualified as a doctor, to drop medicine and embark on his 65-year career as a man of letters. Of his entry into the profession of writing he later said, "I took to it as a duck takes to water."[12]

The writer's life allowed Maugham to travel and live in places such as Spain and Capri for the next decade, but his next ten works never came close to rivalling the success of Liza. This changed dramatically in 1907 with the phenomenal success of his play Lady Frederick. By the next year, he had four plays running simultaneously in London, and Punch published a cartoon of Shakespeare biting his fingernails nervously as he looked at the billboards. Maugham's supernatural thriller called The Magician (1907) based its principal character on the well-known and somewhat disreputable Aleister Crowley. Crowley took some offence at the treatment of the protagonist, Oliver Haddo. Feeling somewhat vilified, he wrote a scathing critique of the novel and charged Maugham with plagiarism. a review that was published in Vanity Fair.[13] Maugham survived the criticism without much damage to his reputation.

Popular success, 1914–39

Maugham early in his career.

By 1914 Maugham was famous, with 10 plays produced and 10 novels published. Too old to enlist when World War I broke out, Maugham served in France as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers", a group of some 23 well-known writers, including the Americans John Dos Passos and E. E. Cummings. During this time, he met Frederick Gerald Haxton, a young San Franciscan, who became his companion and lover until Haxton's death in 1944.[14] Throughout this period Maugham continued to write. He proofread Of Human Bondage at a location near Dunkirk during a lull in his ambulance duties.[15] Maugham also worked for British Intelligence in mainland Europe during the war, having been recruited by John Wallinger; he was one of the network of British agents who operated in Switzerland against the Berlin Committee, notably Virendranath Chattopadhyay. Maugham was later recruited by William Wiseman to work in Russia.[16][17]

Of Human Bondage (1915) initially was criticized in both England and the United States; the New York World described the romantic obsession of the protagonist Philip Carey as "the sentimental servitude of a poor fool". The influential critic and novelist Theodore Dreiser rescued the novel, referring to it as a work of genius and comparing it to a Beethoven symphony. His review gave the book a lift and it has never been out of print since.[18]

The book appeared to be closely autobiographical: Maugham's stammer is transformed into Philip Carey's club foot, the vicar of Whitstable becomes the vicar of Blackstable, and Philip Carey is a doctor. Maugham insisted it was more invention than fact. The close relationship between fictional and non-fictional became Maugham's trademark, despite the legal requirement to state that "the characters in [this or that publication] are entirely imaginary". In 1938 he wrote: "Fact and fiction are so intermingled in my work that now, looking back on it, I can hardly distinguish one from the other."

Although Maugham's first and many other sexual relationships were with men, he also had sexual relationships with a number of women. His affair with Syrie Wellcome, daughter of the orphanage founder Thomas John Barnardo and wife of American-born English pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome, produced a daughter named Liza (born Mary Elizabeth Wellcome, 1915–1998).[19] Henry Wellcome sued his wife for divorce, naming Maugham as co-respondent. In May 1917, following the decree absolute, Syrie and Maugham were married. Syrie became a noted interior decorator who in the 1920s popularized the all-white room.

Maugham returned to England from his ambulance unit duties to promote Of Human Bondage. With that completed, he was eager to assist the war effort once more. As he was unable to return to his ambulance unit, Syrie arranged for him to be introduced to a high-ranking intelligence officer known only as "R." In September 1915, Maugham began work in Switzerland, secretly gathering and passing on intelligence while posing as himself — that is, as a writer.

In 1916, Maugham travelled to the Pacific to research his novel The Moon and Sixpence, based on the life of Paul Gauguin. This was the first of those journeys through the late-Imperial world of the 1920s and 1930s which were to establish Maugham forever in the popular imagination as the chronicler of the last days of colonialism in India, Southeast Asia, China and the Pacific, although the books on which this reputation rests represent only a fraction of his output. On this and all subsequent journeys he was accompanied by Haxton, whom he regarded as indispensable to his success as a writer. Maugham himself was painfully shy, and Haxton the extrovert gathered human material that Maugham steadily turned into fiction.

In June, 1917, he was asked by Sir William Wiseman, an officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service (later named MI6), to undertake a special mission in Russia[20] to keep the Provisional Government in power and Russia in the war by countering German pacifist propaganda.[21] Two and a half months later the Bolsheviks took control. The job was probably always impossible, but Maugham subsequently claimed that if he had been able to get there six months earlier, he might have succeeded. Quiet and observant, Maugham had a good temperament for intelligence work; he believed he had inherited from his lawyer father a gift for cool judgement and the ability to be undeceived by facile appearances.

Never losing the chance to turn real life into a story, Maugham made his spying experiences into a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly, sophisticated, aloof spy, Ashenden, a volume that influenced the Ian Fleming James Bond series.[22] In 1922, Maugham dedicated On A Chinese Screen, a book of 58 ultra-short story sketches collected during his 1920 travels through China and Hong Kong, to Syrie, with the intention of later turning the sketches into a book.[23]

Dramatised from a story which first appeared in his collection The Casuarina Tree published in 1924, Maugham's play The Letter, starring Gladys Cooper, had its premiere in London in 1927. Later, he asked that Katharine Cornell play the lead in the 1927 Broadway version. The play was later adapted for film in 1929 and again in 1940. Later, Cornell would play the lead in his comedy, The Constant Wife in 1951, and was an enormous success.[24]

Syrie and Maugham divorced in 1927–8 after a tempestuous marriage complicated by Maugham's frequent travels abroad and strained by his relationship with Haxton.

In 1928, Maugham bought Villa Mauresque on 12 acres (49,000 m2) at Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera, which was his home for most of the rest of his life, and one of the great literary and social salons of the 1920s and 30s. His output continued to be prodigious, including plays, short stories, novels, essays and travel books. By 1940, when the collapse of France forced Maugham to leave the French Riviera and become a well-heeled refugee, he was already one of the most famous and wealthiest writers in the English-speaking world.

Maugham's talent for the dramatic was demonstrated in his 1933 retelling of the ancient Babylonian myth An Appointment in Samarra, where Death was both the narrator and a central character.[25][26] Maugham's retelling was then credited by John O'Hara as a creative inspiration for his own novel Appointment in Samarra.

Grand old man of letters

Maugham, by now in his sixties, spent most of World War II in the United States, first in Hollywood (he worked on many scripts, and was one of the first authors to make significant money from film adaptations) and later in the South. While in the US he was asked by the British government to make patriotic speeches to induce the US to aid Britain, if not necessarily become an allied combatant. Gerald Haxton died in 1944, and Maugham moved back to England, then in 1946 to his villa in France, where he lived, interrupted by frequent and long travels, until his death.

The gap left by Haxton's death in 1944 was filled by Alan Searle. Maugham had first met Searle in 1928. Searle was a young man from the London slum area of Bermondsey and he had already been kept by older men. He proved a devoted if not a stimulating companion. Indeed one of Maugham's friends, describing the difference between Haxton and Searle, said simply: "Gerald was vintage, Alan was vin ordinaire."[27]

Maugham's love life was almost never smooth. He once confessed: "I have most loved people who cared little or nothing for me and when people have loved me I have been embarrassed... In order not to hurt their feelings, I have often acted a passion I did not feel."

In 1962 he sold a collection of paintings, some of which had been assigned to his daughter Liza by deed. She sued her father and won a judgment of £230,000. Maugham responded by publicly disowning her and claiming she was not his biological daughter; adopting Searle as his son and heir; and launching a bitter attack on the deceased Syrie in his 1962 volume of memoirs, Looking Back, in which Liza discovered she had been born before her parents' marriage. The memoirs lost him several friends and exposed him to much public ridicule. Liza and her husband Lord Glendevon contested the change in Maugham's will in the French courts, and it was overturned. Nevertheless, in 1965 Searle inherited £50,000, the contents of Villa Mauresque, and Maugham's manuscripts and copyrights for 30 years. Thereafter the copyrights passed to the Royal Literary Fund.

There is no grave for Maugham. His ashes were scattered near the Maugham Library, The King's School, Canterbury. Liza, Lady Glendevon, died aged 83 in 1998, survived by Somerset Maugham's four grandchildren (a son and a daughter by Liza's first marriage to Vincent Paravicini, and two more sons to Lord Glendevon). One of the next generation is the autistic savant and musical prodigy Derek Paravicini.


Commercial success with high book sales, successful theatre productions and a string of film adaptations, backed by astute stock market investments, allowed Maugham to live a very comfortable life. Small and weak as a boy, Maugham had been proud even then of his stamina, and as an adult he kept churning out the books, proud that he could. Yet, despite his triumphs, he never attracted the highest respect from the critics or his peers. Maugham himself attributed this to his lack of "lyrical quality", his small vocabulary and failure to make expert use of metaphor in his work. In 1934 the American journalist and radio personality Alexander Woollcott offered to Maugham this bit of language advice: "The female implies, and from that the male infers." Maugham responded: "I am not yet too old to learn."[28]

Maugham wrote in a time when experimental modernist literature such as that of William Faulkner, Thomas Mann, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf was gaining increasing popularity and winning critical acclaim. In this context, his plain prose style was criticized as "such a tissue of clichés that one's wonder is finally aroused at the writer's ability to assemble so many and at his unfailing inability to put anything in an individual way".[29]

For a public man of Maugham's generation, being openly gay was impossible. Whether his own orientation disgusted him (as it did many at a time when homosexuality was widely considered indefensible as well as illegal) or whether he merely took a stance to cover himself, Maugham wrote disparagingly of the gay artist. In "Don Fernando", a non-fiction volume about his years living in Spain, Maugham pondered a (perhaps fanciful) suggestion that the painter El Greco was homosexual: "It cannot be denied that the homosexual has a narrower outlook on the world than the normal man. In certain respects the natural responses of the species are denied to him. Some at least of the broad and typical human emotions he can never experience. However subtly he sees life he cannot see it whole ... I cannot now help asking myself whether what I see in El Greco's work of tortured fantasy and sinister strangeness is not due to such a sexual abnormality as this".[30]

But Maugham's homosexual leanings did shape his fiction in two ways. Since, in life, he tended to see attractive women as sexual rivals, he often gave the women of his fiction sexual needs and appetites, in a way quite unusual for authors of his time. Liza of Lambeth, Cakes and Ale, Neil MacAdam and The Razor's Edge all featured women determined to service their strong sexual appetites, heedless of the result. Also, the fact that Maugham's own sexual appetites were highly disapproved of, or even criminal, in nearly all of the countries in which he travelled, made Maugham unusually tolerant of the vices of others. Readers and critics[who?] often complained that Maugham did not clearly enough condemn what was bad in the villains of his fiction and plays. Maugham replied: "It must be a fault in me that I am not gravely shocked at the sins of others unless they personally affect me."[31]

Maugham's public view of his abilities remained modest. Towards the end of his career he described himself as "in the very first row of the second-raters".[32] In 1954, he was made a Companion of Honour.

Maugham had begun collecting theatrical paintings before the First World War and continued to the point where his collection was second only to that of the Garrick Club.[33] In 1948 he announced that he would bequeath this collection to the Trustees of the National Theatre, and from 1951, some 14 years before his death, his paintings began their exhibition life. In 1994 they were placed on loan to the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden.[34][35]

Significant works

Maugham's masterpiece is generally agreed to be Of Human Bondage, a semiautobiographical novel that deals with the life of the main character Philip Carey, who, like Maugham, was orphaned, and brought up by his pious uncle. Philip's clubfoot causes him endless self-consciousness and embarrassment, echoing Maugham's struggles with his stutter and, as his biographer Ted Morgan notes, his homosexuality. His later novels were based on historical people: The Moon and Sixpence fictionalizes the life of Paul Gauguin; and Cakes and Ale contains thinly veiled characterizations of the authors Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole. Maugham's last major novel, The Razor's Edge, published in 1944, was a departure for him in many ways. While much of the novel takes place in Europe, its main characters are American, not British. The protagonist is a disillusioned veteran of World War I who abandons his wealthy friends and lifestyle, traveling to India seeking enlightenment. The story's themes of Eastern mysticism and war-weariness struck a chord with readers as World War II waned. It was quickly adapted as a movie.

Among his short stories, some of the most memorable are those dealing with the lives of Western, mostly British, colonists in the Far East. They typically express the emotional toll exacted on the colonists by their isolation. Some of his more outstanding works in this genre include "Rain", "Footprints in the Jungle", and "The Outstation". "Rain", in particular, which charts the moral disintegration of a missionary attempting to convert the Pacific island prostitute Sadie Thompson, has kept its status. It has been adapted as a play and as several films. Maugham said that many of his short stories were inspired by accounts he heard during his travels in the outposts of the Empire. He left behind a long string of angry former hosts. Jane Lane (pen name of Elaine Kidner Dakers), a contemporary anti-Maugham writer, retraced his footsteps and wrote a record of his journeys called Gin And Bitters. Maugham's restrained prose allows him to explore the tensions and passions without appearing melodramatic. His The Magician (1908) is based on British occultist Aleister Crowley.

Maugham was one of the most significant travel writers of the inter-war years, and can be compared with contemporaries such as Evelyn Waugh and Freya Stark. His best efforts in this line include The Gentleman in the Parlour, dealing with a journey through Burma, Siam, Cambodia and Vietnam, and On a Chinese Screen, a series of very brief vignettes which might almost be notes for short stories that were never written.

Influenced by the published journals of the French writer Jules Renard, which Maugham had often enjoyed for their conscientiousness, wisdom and wit, Maugham published selections from his own journals under the title A Writer's Notebook in 1949. Although these journal selections are, by nature, episodic and of varying quality, they range over more than 50 years of the writer's life and contain much that Maugham scholars and admirers find of interest.


In 1947, Maugham instituted the Somerset Maugham Award, awarded to the best British writer or writers under the age of thirty-five for a work of fiction published in the past year. Notable winners include V. S. Naipaul, Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis and Thom Gunn. On his death, Maugham donated his copyrights to the Royal Literary Fund.

Other writers acknowledged his work. Anthony Burgess, who included a complex fictional portrait of Maugham in the novel Earthly Powers, praised his influence. George Orwell said that Maugham was "the modern writer who has influenced me the most."

Portraits of Maugham

Maugham was the subject of this caricature.

Many portraits were painted of Somerset Maugham, including that by Graham Sutherland[36] in the Tate Gallery, and several by Sir Gerald Kelly. Sutherland's portrait was included in the exhibit Painting the Century 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000 at the National Portrait Gallery.


Film adaptations

References and notes

  1. ^ The Literature Network
  2. ^ Maugham, Somerset 1962.
  3. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 4.
  4. ^ Maugham, Robin 1977.
  5. ^ Hastings, Selina. The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, 2010
  6. ^ Meyers, 2004, p. 11.
  7. ^ Morgan, 1980, pp. 8–9.
  8. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 17.
  9. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 24.
  10. ^ Epstein, 1991, p. 189.
  11. ^ Maugham, Liza of Lambeth (Rockville, MD: Serenity Publishers, 2008), p. 10.
  12. ^ Maugham, The Partial View (Heineman 1954), p. 8.
  13. ^ Crowley's Vanity Fair review is reprinted in Anthony Curtis and John Whitehead, eds., W. Somerset Maugham The Critical Heritage (Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1987), pp. 44-56.
  14. ^ Haxton appears as Tony Paxton in Maugham's 1917 play, Our Betters).
  15. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 188.
  16. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 230.
  17. ^ Woods 2007, p. 55.
  18. ^ Morgan, 1980, pp. 197–8.
  19. ^ Her birth name is given as Mary Elizabeth Wellcome in the immigration and naturalization files of [ellisisland.org Ellis Island], wherein she is listed, along with her mother, then Syrie Wellcome, on the 21 July 1916 manifest of the HMS Baltic.
  20. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 227.
  21. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 226.
  22. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 206.
  23. ^ Morgan, 1980, pp. 245, 264.
  24. ^ Tad Mosel, "Leading Lady: The World and Theatre of Katharine Cornell," Little, Brown & Co., Boston (1978)
  25. ^ K-State.edu Maugham's version of An Appointment in Samarra
  26. ^ An older version of An Appointment in Samarra is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 53a.
  27. ^ Morgan, 1980, p. 495.
  28. ^ Hoyt, Edwin P. (1968). Alexander Woollcott: The Man Who Came to Dinner. New York: Abelard-Schuman. p. 258. 
  29. ^ Edmund Wilson, quoted in Vidal, 1990, p. 10.
  30. ^ Don Fernando 1935, revised 1950, p. 141 of Mandarin edition of 1990.
  31. ^ Maugham, William Somerset (1954). Mr. Maugham himself. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 564. OCLC 365977. http://books.google.com/books?id=b6NAAAAAIAAJ&q=gravely+shocked. 
  32. ^ Anne Skillion, ed., The New York Public Library Literature Companion (NY: Free Press, 2001), 159
  33. ^ Mander & Mitchenson, 1980.
  34. ^ National Theatre.
  35. ^ National Theatre.
  36. ^ Sutherland, Graham, Somerset MAUGHAM 1949. Oil on canvas, Tate Gallery.


External links

Источник: W. Somerset Maugham

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  • summing up — ˌsumming ˈup noun summings up PLURALFORM [countable usually singular] LAW an occasion when a judge makes a statement at the end of a trial giving the main facts of the trial: • The judge, in his summing up, failed to direct the jury that the… …   Financial and business terms

  • summing-up — plural summings up n a statement giving the main facts but not the details of something, especially made by a judge at the end of a ↑trial ▪ In his summing up, the judge said that it was dangerous to convict on this evidence alone. →sum up(2) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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