Marsha's Reviews > Moon And Sixpence

Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
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Feb 02, 11

Read from January 29 to 31, 2011

A loosely factual account of Paul Gauguin's life. Gauguin was a nutter, and Maugham does a wonderful job of depicting the artist's transition from predictable, married-with-children banker to mad, reclusive artist working in the tropics.

To enjoy this book is to appreciate Maugham's unique, first-person style through which he sketches observations made through direct encounters with his subjects or those who knew them. In both this novel and The Razor's Edge (and probably others), he maintains an air of ambivalence, as if he is only writing about these things by happen stance. Both novels take place over periods of decades, and the episodes he vividly describes are interlaced with Maugham's allusions to his own personal life as he flits between Paris, London, and other parts of the world, attending dinner parties, writing stories and novels. In short, he plays the consummate guide.

Of course, Maugham's real life was not so one-dimensional, but by reducing it as he does, he allows the reader to focus on the insanity and genius of Gauguin.
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