Monday, March 02, 2009

Old Favorite

After close to twenty years, I am returning to a volume of short stories by Somerset Maugham and it is amazing how little I have forgotten. I am even able to recall up to the words used in a sentence and anticipate the next one before having read it. The introduction to The Cosmopolitans by Micheal Wodd captures perfectly the essence of Maugham's writing and its enduring appeal

Maugham is not a difficult or complicated writer, and we can miss all the undercurrents in his prose and still enjoy him a great deal. But the undercurrents are likely to keep Maugham's writing alive when the simpler enjoyment has faded, and in any case I wonder whether anyone misses it entirely. They are like a nameless taste caught up in a taste we know well, a touch of bitterness in a sweet dish - or to be more precise, a touch of genuine bitterness in a bitter-seeming dish, a flavour of real, unnerving acrimony in the midst of calm and worldly cynicism.

I am back to Maugham for a second time to savor the flavors and undercurrents that I might have missed on my first reading a long time ago.

1 comment:

Anil P said...

The Razor's Edge is among my favourites, and so is Creatures of Circumstance.

Unforgettable. Maugham carves out a hollow in the heart when reading him so that he can fill it up at the end!