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The Razor's Edge

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  20,518 ratings  ·  1,580 reviews
A spiritual odyssey.

Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of his spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brilliant characters - his fiancée Isabel whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions, and Elliott Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob. The most ambitious of Maugham's novel
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 18th 1990 by Mandarin (first published 1944)
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Brett I certainly liked it better than the Great Gatsby, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'more important'. Do you mean in terms of other writers the book…moreI certainly liked it better than the Great Gatsby, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'more important'. Do you mean in terms of other writers the book influenced? The Razor's Edge was popular in its own time but hasn't remained as popular in the US. The Great Gatsby, on the other hand, didn't become popular until after Fitzgerald's death.

Also, could you say some more about the connection between the two books? Are you referring to the writing style? Or that they're both books about a group of friends with more money than sense? If it's the later, I would say that was just typical of early 20th century literature. Hemingway and Virginia Woolf use similar plot devices. The Razor's Edge theme is spiritual discovery, while I would say the Great Gatsby is more a criticism of the American Dream.

I think the theme of the Great Gatsby explains why it's remained so popular over time. The book was entered into the literary canon after World War II, at the peak of patriotism in America, when it came to be on high school reading lists all across the country. Even though this book is criticizing the American Dream, it's still *about* the American Dream, and that makes it appealing for a nation obsessed with defining itself. Which is, ultimately, what patriotism is about--a sort of national narcissism--and F. Scott Fitzgerald's book was a mirror Americans recognized themselves in. By comparison, The Razor's Edge is a much more personal story of someone obtaining "enlightenment" and how that changes their lives and the lives of their friends. As such, it lacks the epic quality of the Great Gatsby--plus Maugham can't write American dialog to save his life.

Anywho...that's just my opinion. I'm curious what others think. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Riku Sayuj
This has to be the most endearing and accessible of Maugham's books. With the right smattering of philosophy and literary techniques to keep one challenged too.

It has been one of the defining books in my life.
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.25* of five

The Publisher Says: Intimate acquaintances but less than friends, they meet and part in postwar London and Paris: Elliot, the arch-snob but also the kindest of men; Isabel, considered to be entertaining, gracious, and tactful; Gray, the quintessence of the Regular Guy; Suzanne, shrewd, roving, and friendly; Sophie, lost, wanton, with a vicious attractiveness about her; and finally Larry, so hard and so trustful, lost in the world's confusion. Their story, one of Somerset Mau

"One of Maugham's three major novels ..." TIME. That's high praise coming from TIME magazine. This MUST be good.

I’m sure some of you are familiar with a little American television drama series that aired on HBO from 2002-2008 called The Wire. I was way late to the party, but over the past 6 months or so, I’ve managed to watch all 5 glorious seasons back to back to back. Well, glorious to a point. But what the hell happened in season 5? I kept waiting for it to get good, kept waiting for somethin
Steven Kent
I love this book. I absolutely adore it.

Larry has returned from World War I and refuses to engage in life. Isabel, his finance, is a member of Chicago high society who finds Larry's lack of interest in life troubling.

Grey, Larry's good friend and a successful stock broker, is loyal to Larry despite his secret love for Isabel.

Sound like a soap opera? It should. Told from the first person by Maugham himself, who runs into Larry every few years over a twenty-year period, this is the story of one ma
I didn't love it as much as I expected. The premise that Eastern philosophy has something to offer us in the West just isn't as novel as when this book was originally published. Maugham's description of upper crust society in Paris is bitchy and wonderfully astute at times. But, like most authors, he found it easier to describe the sinners than the saints. Larry Darrell, the saint of this book, just doesn't seem human or interesting. He and his quest for enlightenment and/or belief in God are on ...more
Back in the dark days of the mid-’80s, I read somewhere that Bill Murray was going to be in a movie called The Razor’s Edge, and that it was based on a book. Since this was long before the days where you could check IMDB to see what the movie was going to be about, I figured the book had to be hilarious since Murray was starring in it. So I found the book at the library and started reading. I was pretty shocked to find that it was a serious story about a guy who goes looking for the meaning of l ...more
Maugham appears as the narrator in this story of Larry Darrel, a young American who lied about his age to be able to become an airman in the first World War. After a traumatic experience there he no longer wishes to satisfy the expectations of his friends and join his schoolmate Gray's father's brokerage company, or indeed any other reasonable form of earning a living. He wishes to 'loaf'. Isabel, his shallow, mercenary fiancee gives him two years in Paris to get this strange idea out of his sys ...more
A Rye
Jan 12, 2008 A Rye rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who used to identify with Holden Caulfield, but are growing up.
Shelves: philosophy
Boring for most, enlightening for some, and absolutely beautiful to very few, this book describes the journey of a man disillusioned with the materialistic predilections of society.
After some rather traumatic experiences as a fighter pilot in WW I, American Larry Darrell relocates to France, where he dedicates himself to a life of learning and seeking. A pilgrimage to India results in a spiritual revelation for Darrell, and it is at this point that his entire world begins to shift.
So let me start with a few of the reasons why I shouldn't have liked this book.
-I usually prefer contemporary fiction.
-The Americans are, for the most part, sad, sad characters. Eliot is obsessed with society and culture to the detriment of love and emotion. Isabel wouldn't marry Larry because he would never be rich, and she was disappointed when she inherited some Picassos and Matisses because they wouldn't match her modern decor. Gray was somewhat single minded about work.
-The level of detail
Henry Avila
In 1919,war hero Larry(Laurence) Darrell,returns to his hometown of Chicago.Wounded twice,the aviator, has a deeper injury.A friend saved his life but lost his, over France,dying on the ground...Isabel Bradley, Larry's fiancee,notices the change.When his best friend Gay Maturin, gets his millionaire father Henry ,to offer his pal a good job. Darrell turns it down!He doesn't want to sell bonds.Who does ? But you can make a lot of lovely money.W.Somerset Maugham,the famous British author is visiti ...more
Stefania T.

Ebbi l'intuizione, non saprei chiamarla altrimenti, che nell'anima di quel ragazzo c'era un'aspirazione confusa, fatta non capivo se di idee embrionali o di vaghe emozioni, che lo riempiva di irrequietezza e lo spingeva verso qualcosa a lui ignoto.

Pronta anch'io a partire per l'India alla ricerca dell'Illuminazione, mentre impacchetto tutte le mie cose, cercando di ricongiungere ciascun calzino "multicolor" con il proprio compagno perduto e di sorvegliare la mia gatta affinché non si addorment
Charlie Schlangen
Somerset Maugham continues to justify his place on my list of favorite writers. His narrative is crisp and moves the plot along well without giving characters or events short shrift. His insightful, soul-searching characters (which not all of them are) have the kinds of conversations you sometimes have and wish you did more often about philosophy, art, and life issues. He is able to find the good in his characters and yet no sugar-coat their flaws. This book will be helpful and meaningful for an ...more
Brad Lyerla
My youngest daughter came home from college the other day with this book under her arm. I grabbed it and expected it to be great.

It almost met my expectations. Maugham's theme is to explore how the things we want most shape our lives. He sums it up in the final paragraph. Elliot valued social standing above all else. Isabel, a rich husband. Gray, to be one of the guys in business. Suzanne, security. Sophie, death. Larry, spiritual happiness.

One surprise to me is that none of Maugham's characte
When I first read this, I was too overwhelmed to try to sum up my feelings about it with just a bit of text. (Plus, I wasn't on Goodreads at the time.) There is still no earthly way that I can convey how fantastic this book is, but I did want to mention what still strikes me years later.

In the hands of most authors, this book would focus on Larry, the young man who abandons a life of privilege to seek enlightenment and meaning after terrible experiences in the Great War. His fiancee, who breaks
Maugham, you son of a bitch.

“You know, at one time I made quite a little reputation for myself as a humorist by the simple process of telling the truth. It came as such a surprise to most people that they thought I was being funny.”

There are the first thirty pages of a Somerset Maugham book, and then there are the next 200, or 300, or 400 pages that turn it on its head. It’s a game now for me, to form as fast and as sure an opinion of the people he puts in those first thirty pages so the rest of
I really enjoy Maugham’s writing. No one writes a snob quite like Maugham does. He generally creates interesting characters – characters that stay with me. Now, I’m hopeless with names and I couldn’t be bothered looking them up, but that woman he falls in love with in Of Human Bondage and the other woman who is lucky to get away from him in the same book are remarkable characters. Characters that leap off the page in their own way.

This book is supposed to be based on real life – in fact, it clai
The Razor’s Edge is one of W. Somerset Maugham’s last novels. Subtitled The Story of a Man Who Found a Faith, it is an uneven work. Maugham was a playwright as well as a novelist, and this novel reads much like a play, with little description and much dialogue. The narrator, Maugham himself, plays a minor and primarily narrative role, acting as a link among the other protagonists in England and France. The main characters are Isabel and Larry, friends from childhood in the US who for a while app ...more
This book is beautiful. Maugham is an absolutely superb writer, I'd go so far as to agree with the blurb on the cover and say genius. Perhaps I shouldn't make such strong statements based solely on two books but I must admit Maugham now surpasses almost all other authors (besides my personal god Nabokov) as my new favorite writer.

That said, this book didn't come close to his masterpiece Of Human Bondage, which is THE book to which I measure every other piece of fiction now. And, yes, I know Raz
I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me
And bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing
And feel, feel what it's like to be new

Prendo in prestito le parole dei "Death cab for cutie", perché penso che questi siano un po i pensieri di Larry, nella parte sesta di questo "romanzo", e perché sono un implicita dedica ad una persona speciale, che me li ha fatti conoscere, e con cui ho letto questo libro , una persona veramente speciale come se incontrano di rado, o quasi
La prosa di Maugham è elegantissima, raffinata, perfettamente cosciente dei propri limiti: lui stesso li riconosce e ne discute tranquillamente, da narratore in prima persona, in questo romanzo. Troppo a lungo autori capaci di scrivere così bene sono stati considerati "superficiali" dalla critica, alla disperata ricerca di eccentricità stilistiche e lunghe autoindulgenti divagazioni filosofiche. Non che queste cose debbano essere viste come difetti, semplicemente non erano parte del talento di M ...more
3.5 stars

In a nutshell, this contains Maugham's indictment of the culture of materialism, upper class snobbery and the story of a man's spiritual awakening and search for the true meaning of life. He has analyzed the opposite ends of the spectrum of human tendencies and juxtaposed themes of kindness and human goodwill along with the basest of human feelings such as contempt and jealousy in a way truly characteristic of a master of the art. But some portions were unnecessarily drawn out. And I fe
I think I’d be tempted to give this one six stars if I could. I adored this book, and I regret not reading it when I was sixteen or so; even though you can’t properly understand much at that age, books that merely impress you later on “change your life” as a junior in high school. I believe this one would have done so, but I’m happy enough with the experience of having now read it at the ripe old age of 24.

I’m a sucker for books of the Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and now Maugham mold, where rather g
MOM's persuasive hero Larry Darrell is on a "search for
Something" like all sensitif lads, though he doesnt
know what the "Something" is. Arriving in SoCal from
India, MOM spent time w Isherwood & Huxley who realized
that Los Angeles was making them Look for Something.

Growing up there - without a Swami - I felt the same
way. Age 14, this novel (with 100s of GR reviews that
would startle MOM) inspired the necessary Search for
me, though I didnt realize then I'd find answers at
the Cafe de Flore in Pa
Feb 06, 2014 Stela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stela by: Ginny
Shelves: modernism, reviews

I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. If I call it a novel it is only because I don’t know what else to call it. I have little story to tell and I end neither with a death nor a marriage.

Thus begins “The Razor’s Edge”, with an apparent honest disclosure of the double role of the narrative voice in the subsequent story: to witness and reflect the facts, without any implication whatsoever in the events. Not an unheard-of double function at all, although a bit unexpected from an author wh
И да илюстрирам уникалния разказвач:

When you're eighteen your emotions are violent, but they're not durable.

Life's hell anyway, but if there is any fun to be got out of it, you're only a god-damn fool if you don't get it.

Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.

I suppose I didn't really love him, but one can get on all right without love.

What is individuality but the expressio
Muhammad Shakhawat Hossain
সাধারণত বুক রিভিউতে একটি বইয়ের ভালো দিক-খারাপ দিক, গঠনমূলক দিক, 'ধ্বংসমূলক' দিক ইত্যাদি নিয়ে কাটাছেঁড়া, ব্যবচ্ছেদ করা হয়। সে অর্থে এটি ঠিক রিভিউ নয়। এই বইয়ের সাথে মজার একটি ব্যাপার আছে। মূলত সেটি শেয়ার করাই এই লেখার উদ্দেশ্য! নীলক্ষেতে পুরনো বইয়ের দোকানে যাঁরা ঘোরাঘুরি করেন, তাঁদের কাছে "মোস্তফা মামা" বেশ পরিচিত একটি নাম। পুরনো বইয়ের বিশাল স্তূপ নিয়ে তালপাতার সেপাই মোস্তফা মামা অনেকদিন থেকেই বেশ জাঁকিয়ে ব্যবসা করে আসছেন। আমার মত যাঁদের বটুয়ার স্বাস্থ্য ক্ষীণ, তাঁদের জন্য মোস্তফা মামা বিরাট এক ভর ...more
Se si ama leggere, se si provano ancora gusto e pace e brividi a sentirsi raccontare di gente, di fatti, di ambienti, di idee, di cose....di qualsiasi cosa , non si può non amare Somerset Maugham.
È il piacere della lettura: quello che non ha bisogno di trovare giustificazione in un fine che sia altro, per quanto nobile lo si voglia immaginare.

E in questo romanzo non manca niente. Pochi altri autori anzi sarebbero riusciti a tenere insieme nella stessa storia con tanta aristocratica distinzione
Michael W.
This book was given to me as a gift by a good friend. I had only a vague idea of what is was about, but as I started reading it, realized that it is an incredible work of fiction. I learned after reading it that it's actually more a work of non-fiction in that the narrator and the characters are based fairly closely on Somerset Maugham and people he knew well throughout his life.

Maybe for this reason, the character development in this novel is some of the best I've ever read. The novel plays out
Although I enjoyed reading The Razor's Edge, I can't say I found it an amazing read, or even that this is an inspiring book.

I liked Larry Darrell's search of the absolute. In fact, my favorite partes were the ones in which his travels and what he did and learned were described. This is sort of funny because I'm not exactly what you would call a spiritual person, and I usually don't like philosophical ramblings.

Apart from this, I just found the story enjoyable, even if a bit dull in the beginning
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I got my copy of this book from a second hand bookstore. It's old. On its first leaf is a handwritten note, dated 16 September 1946, which reads:

"To dear Femy,

"Many happy returns of the day!



So more than 60 years ago this book was new and Nora, perhaps a young, artistic but shy lady (her letters are small which, according to my little knowledge of graphology, indicates shyness or timidity; while her capital letters have loops, which indicates either artistic bent or frivolity) had
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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 alm
More about W. Somerset Maugham...
Of Human Bondage The Painted Veil The Moon and Sixpence Theatre Cakes and Ale

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“You're beginning to dislike me, aren't you? Well, dislike me. It doesn't make any difference to me now.” 200 likes
“For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in. It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can't come to know by hearsay...” 100 likes
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