Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Vagrant Mood: Six Essays” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
The Vagrant Mood: Six ...
W. Somerset Maugham
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Vagrant Mood: Six Essays

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  38 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
The Vagrant Mood is a brilliantly varied and colourful collection of essays. From Kant to Raymond Chandler; from the legend of Zurbaran to the art of the detective story; from Burke to Augustus Hare, Maugham brings his inimitable mastery of the incisive character sketch to the genre of literary criticism.
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published by Arno Press (first published 1952)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Vagrant Mood, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Vagrant Mood

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 106)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan Rice
Aug 06, 2015 Jan Rice marked it as collection-read-in-part  ·  review of another edition

Image available on Amazon. This is the first American edition, from 1953. The dust jacket was on my copy when I began reading but fell apart during the process.

Actually I've read only one 31-page essay from this book, "The Decline and Fall of the Detective Story." As I think it's the first of W. Somerset Maugham I've ever read, I decided to go on and review it.

I noticed the author writes with a dry, ironical sense of humor that reminds me of my uncle whose book this was. His tone, one of looki
Shamim E. Haque
An interesting collection of essays. The one that I liked most is "Some Novelists I have Known", and the next best two essays are easily "Augustus" and "After Reading Burke". As a Maugham fan I tend to like everything he has written, and it is perhaps hard for me to provide an unbiased review; nevertheless I will try to be objective. Firstly it is a relatively less readable and rather difficult book of the Maugham oeuvre. Some of the essays may seem rather academic: "Zurbaran" and "Reflections o ...more
Sep 07, 2011 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Maugham because he is easy to read - he is (or portrays himself as) intimate and plain, and makes you feel like you're in the company of someone friendly. I know that's what drew me in, and if sometimes he seems to be working too hard to sand everything smooth, I can usually enjoy his quiet examinations of extreme people and places, like Ashenden and "Rain" or "The Letter."

The best thing in this book of essays is "Some Novelists I Have Known," which has devastating portraits of Henry Jam
Lee Anne
Jan 18, 2013 Lee Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-author
This is a slim collection of essays about people and topics the modern reader will most likely never have heard of, or at least care about. Augustus Hare (who? exactly.); Zurbaran (the Spanish Caravaggio, according to Wikipedia); what makes a good detective novel (this one was actually pretty good); Edmund Burke (I'd heard of him, but...); Kant (don't care); and the final essay, "Some Novelists I Have Known," which wins points for being very catty about Henry James. Maugham's marvelous voice is ...more
The Vagrant Mood: Six Essays (Vintage Classics) by Somerset Maugham (2001)
May 19, 2009 Donna is currently reading it
I liked Cakes and Ale enough to pick up this book of essays.
BookDB marked it as to-read
Sep 29, 2016
Silvano Mangiafico
Silvano Mangiafico rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2016
Meredith marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2016
Musca rated it liked it
Jul 23, 2016
Djonair rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2016
Anthony rated it it was amazing
Jun 12, 2016
Inam marked it as to-read
May 22, 2016
Maria Alice
Maria Alice marked it as to-read
May 12, 2016
Masud marked it as to-read
May 03, 2016
Shahbazi Jugnu
Shahbazi Jugnu marked it as to-read
May 01, 2016
Naureen marked it as to-read
May 01, 2016
abcdefg marked it as to-read
Apr 23, 2016
Z marked it as to-read
Apr 20, 2016
Ka Wa Wong
Ka Wa Wong marked it as to-read
Apr 14, 2016
Robert marked it as to-read
Mar 30, 2016
Molly Davies
Molly Davies is currently reading it
Mar 30, 2016
Freya marked it as to-read
Feb 20, 2016
A.soorianarayanan marked it as to-read
Feb 09, 2016
Ashley Page
Ashley Page rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2016
Christian Carbone
Christian Carbone marked it as to-read
Jan 01, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in Of Human Bondage, Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he almost l
More about W. Somerset Maugham...

Share This Book

Jeremy Bentham startled the world many years ago by stating in effect that if the amount of pleasure obtained from each be equal there is nothing to choose between poetry and push-pin. Since few people now know what push-pin is, I may explain that it is a child's game in which one player tries to push his pin across that of another player, and if he succeeds and then is able by pressing down on the two pins with the ball of his thumb to lift them off the table he wins possession of his opponent's pin. [...] The indignant retort to Bentham's statement was that spiritual pleasures are obviously higher than physical pleasures. But who say so? Those who prefer spiritual pleasures. They are in a miserable minority, as they acknowledge when they declare that the gift of aesthetic appreciation is a very rare one. The vast majority of men are, as we know, both by necessity and choice preoccupied with material considerations. Their pleasures are material. They look askance at those who spent their lives in the pursuit of art. That is why they have attached a depreciatory sense to the word aesthete, which means merely one who has a special appreciation of beauty. How are we going to show that they are wrong? How are we going to show that there is something to choose between poetry and push-pin? I surmise that Bentham chose push-pin for its pleasant alliteration with poetry. Let us speak of lawn tennis. It is a popular game which many of us can play with pleasure. It needs skill and judgement, a good eye and a cool head. If I get the same amount of pleasure out of playing it as you get by looking at Titian's 'Entombment of Christ' in the Louvre, by listening to Beethoven's 'Eroica' or by reading Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday', how are you going to prove that your pleasure is better and more refined than mine? Only, I should say, by manifesting that this gift you have of aesthetic appreciation has a moral effect on your character.” 2 likes
More quotes…