Saturday, March 13, 2004

Praising Maugham

A new biography of W Somerset Maugham is reviewed in The Economist.

In the four decades since William Somerset Maugham died in 1965 at the age of 91 he has passed a writer's cruellest test: people still read him.

But he's still vastly underrrated as a keen observer of human nature.

But it is not Maugham's choice of exotic locations that keep his books in print. Nor is it that he wrote so much: 78 books and numerous plays. Much of his writing is best forgotten. But in his prime, he evolved a clear and effective prose style that achieved a quality possessed only by master story-tellers, making the reader greedy for more.

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