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The Razor's Edge

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  25,518 Ratings  ·  1,898 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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Pramod Nair
Its a toss-up when you decide to leave the beaten track. Many are called, few are chosen.

A classic which is really worth reading. The author narrates the tale of a man who is in search of the true meanings of life by turning down opportunities and taking up a "road less taken" lifestyle.

In The Razor’s Edge Maugham introduces the reader with Larry Darrel, an American pilot who is in shock after his experiences during the World War I. After returning from war, he was so changed with his perspe

"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
Riku Sayuj
Feb 13, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 27, 2015 Kemper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sky-cake
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
Steven Kent
Oct 06, 2012 Steven Kent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2008 Maryll rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard Derus
Apr 30, 2013 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carmo Santos
Mar 29, 2015 Carmo Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: frança
Um livro que nos transporta para a lendária questão do sentido da vida: o que devemos fazer com ela?

Aceitamos o que a sociedade nos impõe, muitas vezes assente em mentiras e conveniências e não
no que é verdadeiro, sem termos uma palavra a dizer? Poucos se livram, nas suas decisões, de ter em conta as expectativas dos familiares, ou de tentar corresponder ao que é correto aos olhos de uma sociedade que não perdoa desvios.
Ou por outro lado, devemos cortar amarras e ir em busca de outros mundos, d
Feb 05, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
570. The Razor’s Edge – William Somerset Maugham
لبه تیغ - ویلیام سامرست موام (فرزان روز) ادبیات

لبه تیغ را نویسنده ی انگلیسی «ویلیام سامرست موآم» در سال 1944 منتشر کرد، رمان درباره ی جوانی ست به نام «لاری» که درآمد ناچیزی دارد و از زندگی خویش خشنود است، و در جستجوی یافتن پاسخ پرسشهای خویش است. میخواهد بداند غایت زندگی چیست. روش «لاری» خوشایند نامزدش «ایزابل» نیست. از پذیرفتن شغلهایی که پیشنهاد میشود سر باز میزند، و برای یافتن پاسخ سئوالها، به کتابخانة میرود. ایزابل که پس از دوسال تلاش، نتوانسته «
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
Feb 26, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
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
A Rye
Jan 12, 2008 A Rye rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Celeste Corrêa
O Fio da Navalha (1944) de Sommerset Maugham (1874-1965)

Um livro quase filosófico sobre a existência e o propósito da vida. Escrito num estilo leve e simples, lê-se sem sombra de fadiga, com excepção dos capítulos dedicados à cultura e misticismo do oriente.

Larry Darrell, uma das grandes personagens de Sommerset Maugham, na busca incessante de uma filosofia , de uma religião e de uma norma de vida capaz de lhe satisfazer tanto o intelecto como o coração, em contraste com os que cultivam acima de
Mar 06, 2015 Stacia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, europe, 2015
What a keen observer of people Maugham is! This book is just a wonderful delight, amusing & serious at the same time, filled with Maugham's warm, wonderful observations of people.

It's like visiting a bunch of old friends various times throughout the years, telling stories, catching up on gossip, pondering the meaning of life, etc.... Maugham writes beautifully. All the characters are great -- true people with many virtues, but flaws too; the flaws don't detract, though, just make them real.
Henry Avila
Jun 21, 2013 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 29, 2014 Stefania T. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite

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
Oct 22, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 20, 2009 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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
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
Maryam Hosseini
این کتاب داستان زندگیِ غیرمعـمول یک جوان آمریکایی رو بیان میکند و به لحاظ محـتوا شباهت های بسیار زیادی با "ماه و شش پشیز" دارد
لاری هم مانند استریکلندِ نقاش جوانی ست که از موقعیت های اجتماعی و متعلقات خود چشم پوشیده و دنبال هدف خود و چیستی زندگی ست

این زندگی چیست، چه معنی دارد ؟ آیا راستی از آن منظوری هست "
" یا بودن آن تنها معلول یک اشتباه کورکورانه تقدیر است؟ "

البته لاری برخلاف نقاش شخصیت مثبتی دارد و آدم بسیار خوبی ست(و حتی زیادی خوب است) . اما به لحاظ داستان ، "ماه و شش پشیز" قـوی تر و جذابتر
Self-sacrifice, the most "overwhelming" of all human "passions"

"Above all the others we'll fly
This brings tears to my eyes
My sacrifice"
Creed, My Sacrifice, 2001.

After reading this novel, I agree with Maugham's assertion that self-sacrifice is greater than any other human passion. The Razor's Edge is a powerful and sobering story of how human nature collides with one's belief that he can somehow control or easily alter the destiny of another if only he sacrifices himself.

Mind you, I'm not talkin
Brad Lyerla
Jan 26, 2015 Brad Lyerla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2015 Ahmed rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, translated
حبيت سومرست ف القصص القصيرة
لكن مع أول رواية أقرأها له مشدنيش
مع ان تقييمها عالى جدا
ربما أكون قرأت ما هو أكثر روحانية منها ؟
ربما يكون العيب ف الترجمة ؟ .. لكننى أستبعد هذا فلقد أعجبتنى ترجمات الشريف خاطر التى قرأتها
ربما العيب ف الإختصار ؟
لا أعرف
Sara Steger
Dec 14, 2015 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Oh, Mr. Maugham, there are moments when I love you so much I could burst. Moments when I wish there were a six star rating, so I could put it into your hands and say "I got that part and it resonated with me." Moments when I want to say, "enough of that, get back to the story", only to find That is the story, That is the heart.

This novel made me wish to live in the post WWI twenties and have endless possibilities open to me. It made me examine the life I have lived and wonder if I couldn't have
Feb 07, 2014 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 24, 2010 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction, favorites, funny
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
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
Mark Mortensen
Jan 27, 2015 Mark Mortensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, wwi, fiction
The post World War I setting begins in Chicago and crosses the Atlantic to Paris. A fulfilled life is often how one best plays the cards that are dealt and the central cast of characters has been dealt a very good hand.

W. Somerset Maugham’s novel is full of depth as he mingles friendships and love along with the consequences of life altering personal decisions. Life is not fair and as for regrets that is left for the reader to identify. There is a clash of materialism versus common needs and th
Feb 25, 2014 Elyse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it! As for writing a review ---there are a TON of EXCELLENT reveiws already written ---
[which I've enjoyed very much many of them expanded my own understanding -and views of this book]....

One little thing which 'bugged' me personally ----lol ---is that 'LEGS' on woman seemed to be a first physical focus (fat -or thin -short or tall) ---

As a female ---I was a little 'tired' of the LEG talk....

Larry spent 2 years in an Ashram ----(I spent a week and had enough) ---
A VERY close
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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...

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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.” 233 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...” 128 likes
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