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The Skeptical Romancer

Selected Travel Writing

By , (Editor)

Hardcover published by Everyman's Library (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book

One of the seminal writers of the twentieth century, W. Somerset Maugham was also a fearless and constant traveler who chronicled his adventures with a rare mix of wit and excitement. In The Skeptical Romancer, acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer selects vignettes of Maugham's wise and vivid prose that track his transformation from a boyish traveler in Spain to a worldly man of letters, looking back on India, China, Russia, and America. Beginning with an early book on Spain and culminating in excerpts from old age, this collection introduces us to Maugham at his most surprising, charming, and prophetic. In piece after piece, one can see the spirit that continues to cast an unrivaled influence over successors from Graham Greene to Paul Theroux, from Jan Morris to V. S. Naipaul.

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One of the seminal writers of the twentieth century, W. Somerset Maugham was also a fearless and constant traveler who chronicled his adventures with a rare mix of wit and excitement. In The Skeptical Romancer, acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer selects vignettes of Maugham's wise and vivid prose that track his transformation from a boyish traveler in Spain to a worldly man of letters, looking back on India, China, Russia, and America. Beginning with an early book on Spain and culminating in excerpts from old age, this collection introduces us to Maugham at his most surprising, charming, and prophetic. In piece after piece, one can see the spirit that continues to cast an unrivaled influence over successors from Graham Greene to Paul Theroux, from Jan Morris to V. S. Naipaul.

Product Details
Hardcover (248 pages)
Published: November 3, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Everyman's Library
ISBN: 9780307272126
Other books byW. Somerset Maugham
  • Before the Party

    Before the Party
    Based on a short story by Somerset Maugham, Before The Party tells the story of a family attempting to return to normal in the wake of the Second World War. With daughter Laura returned from Africa, widowed but not alone, they prepare for the latest social gathering. Amidst the never-ending whirl of hats and dresses and below stairs skirmishes, Laura reveals a shocking secret that threatens to ruin more than one party on the climb to social success.

    Of Human Bondage

    Of Human Bondage
    Of Human Bondage, byW. Somerset Maugham, is part of theBarnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features ofBarnes & Noble Classics: All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest.Barnes & Noble Classicspulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. One of the most widely read novels of the twentieth century,W. Somerset Maugham’s masterpieceOf Human Bondagegives a harrowing depiction of unrequited love. Philip Carey, a sensitive orphan born with a clubfoot, finds himself in desperate need of passion and inspiration. He abandons his studies to travel, first to Heidelberg, and then to Paris, where he nurses ambitions of becoming a great artist. Philip’s youthful idealism erodes, however, as he comes face-to-face with his own mediocrity and lack of impact on the world. After returning to London to study medicine, he becomes wildly infatuated with Mildred, a vulgar, tawdry waitress, and begins a doomed love affair that will change the course of his life.   First published in 1915, the semi-autobiographicalOf Human Bondagecombines the values left over from the Victorian era with the prevailing irony and despair of the early twentieth century. Unsentimental yet bursting with deep feeling,Of Human Bondageremains Maugham’s most complete statement of the importance of physical and spiritual liberty, a theme that resounds more loudly than ever today.   Carin Companickis a freelance writer and a specialist in the field of language proficiency assessment. She studied English literature at Haverford College and completed her graduate work in Victorian and modern literature at Columbia University. She lives and works in Princeton, New Jersey.

    The Magician

    The Magician
    Together with a Fragment of Autobiography
    In 1897, after spending five years at St Thomas's Hospital I passed the examinations which enabled me to practise medicine. While still a medical student I had published a novel called Liza of Lambeth which caused a mild sensation, and on the strength of that I rashly decided to abandon doctoring and earn my living as a writer; so, as soon as I was 'qualified', I set out for Spain and spent the best part of a year in Seville. I amused myself hugely and wrote a bad novel. Then I returned to London and, with a friend of my own age, took and furnished a small flat near Victoria Station. A maid of all work cooked for us and kept the flat neat and tidy. My friend was at the Bar, and so I had the day (and the flat) to myself and my work. During the next six years I wrote several novels and a number of plays. Only one of these novels had any success, but even that failed to make the stir that my first one had made. I could get no manager to take my plays. At last, in desperation, I sent one, which I called A Man of Honour, to the Stage Society, which gave two performances, one on Sunday night, another on Monday afternoon, of plays which, unsuitable for the commercial theatre, were considered of sufficient merit to please an intellectual audience.

    Liza of Lambeth

    Liza of Lambeth
    Maugham's first published novel - a vividly realistic portrayal of slum life. Down among the drab slums of Lambeth, eighteen-year-old Liza is the darling of Vere Street. Vibrant and bewitching, she has found an adoring if conventional beau in Tom. When she meets Jim Blakeston, a married man new to the area, she is immediately magnetized by his attentions. But the streets are wise to their illicit, passionate affair and before long the secret is out. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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