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Group Reads Archive > The Moon and Sixpence - W. Somerset Maugham (May 2010)

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message 1: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
Welcome to our May Group Read...

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham W. Somerset Maugham

I hope you enjoy the read - make sure you pop back and let us know what you thought (...and perhaps compare it to our first group read by the same author - The Painted Veil).

Ally


message 2: by Victoria (vikz writes) (last edited May 04, 2010 12:11PM) (new)

Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) my copy informs me that this book was based loosely on the life of Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin. So, I googled him and found this site. Thought that you might find it interesting. http://www.paul-gauguin.net/


message 3: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
I've been reading the first few chapters of this on my commute to work - I'm having to stop myself from giggling at some of the witty maxims Maugham has put in there! other passengers might think I'm a bit crazy!!! - it bodes well for this book though! I'm liking it a lot so far...


message 4: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
I think this book represents in miniature everything I love about early 20th century literature. Short chapters, a concentration on the 'feel'/sound/rhythm/effect of the words on the page and a quick but penetrating insight into human behaviour - I'm only a quarter of the way through but I'm really loving this book.

Ally


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim | 24 comments I've read 3/4s of the book so far
I think Maugham is dead on about what people actually think in many situations even where they wouldn't say it out loud.

Also even though the author belittles women, he certainly has them play major roles in contributing or causing what happens to the various characters.

Thus there's a contradictory portrayal of women between what's said about women being powerless in the book and their actual power in affecting events.


Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) Jim wrote: "I've read 3/4s of the book so far
I think Maugham is dead on about what people actually think in many situations even where they wouldn't say it out loud.

Also even though the author belittles ..."


Ally wrote: "I think this book represents in miniature everything I love about early 20th century literature. Short chapters, a concentration on the 'feel'/sound/rhythm/effect of the words on the page and a qui..."

Couldn't agree more. I am loving this book. What do you think of the main characters?


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim | 24 comments One thing that appeals to me about the era written about is how much time the people then had to live life in an unhurried way
I don't understand why with all our time saving advantages, better communication that modern society is so rushed.


message 8: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 502 comments Well, I understand and appreciate your point. However, don't you think the author simply chooses not to focus on the drugeries of every day living? Everyone does laundry, shops for groceries, cooks, cleans and uses the lavatory, but it's rarely included in the narrative.

I love Maugham. He had a deceptively simple style, and though always erudite and witty, was also easy to read. This is one of my favorites by him - along with "Cakes and Ale."


message 9: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1102 comments Once again, I am finding him very readable.

I am not quite halfway through and I have only been reading it for a couple of days.


message 10: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
Here's a few 'book-club' style questions for us to consider...

Does anyone know much about the life of Paul Gauguin? how much has Maugham matched or differed from his true-life story in this book?

What do you think is the importance of location in this book - Edwardian London, artistic Paris, Tahiti?

Ally


message 11: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1102 comments I finished last night. Finally I have finished a book while we are still in the month. It feels like a great accomplishment. Maybe it just means it was a good book.

One thing bothered me for about half the book. And that was what the title meant. I kept thinking it would come through in the book. It didn't. So, after finishing I went to Wikipedia and learned that it was from a quote from Of Human Bondage about someone (I think) being so focused on the moon that he couldn't see the sixpence at his feet. And that pretty much does describe our artist.

I liked the part that took place in Paris but felt what a dolt this Stoerk must be.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book. I do have Rain and Other South Sea Stories so I may move right on to that.


message 12: by Felisa (new)

Felisa Rosa (glassmongoose) | 23 comments Ally wrote: "I think this book represents in miniature everything I love about early 20th century literature. Short chapters, a concentration on the 'feel'/sound/rhythm/effect of the words on the page and a qui..."

Nicely said, Ally.


message 13: by Felisa (new)

Felisa Rosa (glassmongoose) | 23 comments Ivan wrote: "Well, I understand and appreciate your point. However, don't you think the author simply chooses not to focus on the drugeries of every day living? Everyone does laundry, shops for groceries, coo..."

Erudite. A description of Maugham in one word. Nice. I agree with you about Cakes and Ale. The Razor's Edge is probably my all time favorite.


message 14: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
I know from looking through your reviews that loads of members have read and loved this book - I'd love to hear more from you about the specifics of what you liked. Are there any members who are less than impressed?

Don't be shy - there's no wrong opinion on this!

Ally


message 15: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1102 comments Previously I only had read an occasional short story by Maugham. So what I am finding impressive in how easy it is to read him. I have (almost) no trouble getting into his stories. They keep my interest.
These are things I can't say about all of the other writers that we have been reading.


message 16: by Ivan (last edited May 21, 2010 05:39PM) (new)

Ivan | 502 comments Actually, Maugham was looked down upon by the literary intelligentsia because his work was popular (and Hollywood LOVED his works).

Sorry I haven't been more active. I read this quite some time ago - so it isn't fresh in my mind. I do recall it very fondly.

I've been on a Vidal binge. I don't plan these author binges and I'm powerless against them.


message 17: by Felisa (new)

Felisa Rosa (glassmongoose) | 23 comments Ivan wrote: "Actually, Maugham was looked down upon by the literary intelligentsia because his work was popular (and Hollywood LOVED his works).

Sorry I haven't been more active. I read this quite some time..."


I also read this quite some time ago. I liked it, but it's not one of my favorite Maugham books. Probably because I find tempestuous artists a bit annoying. I do remember being amused by the descriptions of parlor conversation.


message 18: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1102 comments I really enjoyed this book.

I disliked the artist intensely. I thought he was a real jerk but that he must have some talent somewhere.

And I didn't really like the Dutch friend that much. Because he really let the artist use him although he seems to have been almost the only person who saw the genius of the man. He just let too many people walk all over him and laugh at him.

I had much more interest in the narrator. And I wondered why he had taken so much trouble to follow this guy - long before he was famous. I think he was the only person I liked in the whole book - although we don't really know him that well. He doesn't talk about himself except as it relates to the other characters in the book.


Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) Sorry that I have been so silent. I had to put this book to one side so that I could read Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnoldfor another reading group. I've finished that now. (I loved it.) And am looking forward to getting back to Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham


message 20: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
OK - quick show of hands - how many of us would love to cast off the shackles of social nicety to be as wikedly self-centred as Strickland?


message 21: by Victoria (vikz writes) (last edited May 26, 2010 11:02AM) (new)

Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) Ally wrote: "OK - quick show of hands - how many of us would love to cast off the shackles of social nicety to be as wikedly self-centred as Strickland?"

Not sure about that. I now that i would like to strangle him. Don't think that I like any of the characters within that book. The writing keeps me going. Anybody got a favourite character? which one do you hate the most?


message 22: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 502 comments Well, I'd like to cast off those shackles sometimes, sure. However, not to become wickedly self-centered. I get tired of being polite to lazy people and woefully stupid people. People who ask if the elevator is going up when we're already on the lowest level; or those who stand in a doorway and have a conversation and then become annoyed when others insist on pushing through. I have a little magnet on my frig with a woman in her garden and a caption over her head that reads: "gardening, yoga, bubble bath, medication...and I still want to smack somebody!"


message 23: by Victoria (vikz writes) (last edited May 27, 2010 07:01AM) (new)

Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) Sawyer wrote: "My sympathies are still with Strickland, because he needs his selfish world in order to be the artist that he's meant to be. I confess, shamefacedly, that I know little of the actual story of Gaug..."
I've just finished the book and don't know what I think of stricklsnd. I wonder if we would be so symnapathetic to a woman who acted in the same way.

I've just realised that you don't see Strickland very much in this book. You just see the way that he affects those around him. He reminds me of a freak wind storm that passes by so quickly that you don't see him. But, you now he's been there by the trail of devistation that he leaves behind. The narrator reminds me of one of those storm chasers who follow hurricanes in helcopters reporting on their effects as they pass by.


message 24: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 502 comments Did anyone see Ed Harris in "Pollack" - all abojut Jackson Pollack? It was a very unflattering portrait of a rather horrible human being. It reminds me of Strickland; and I've got to tell you that I wouldn't have put up with his nonsense for five minutes. One doesn't have to be a rotten person to be a great artist. Truman Capote is my favorite writer, but all I've read about him makes me think I wouldn't have liked him much on a personal level.


message 25: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1102 comments From what I've read, it sounds like many writers and painters have a similar egocentric bent. So, for the average person, they are probably best when observed from afar.

I'm sure they are not all bad. But the artistic bent seems to drive many of the niceties away.

And I would certainly have to include the likes of people like Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman in this group.

For instance, I loved the memoirs Lillian Hellman wrote and then I's been hearing rumors that it was a bunch of crap. And then I picked up this book by Joan Mellen called Hellman and Hammett which told me it was all a bunch of hooey. How disappointing. But I don't know much about Mellen or her reputation.


message 26: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
Vikz wrote: "Sawyer wrote: "My sympathies are still with Strickland, because he needs his selfish world in order to be the artist that he's meant to be. I confess, shamefacedly, that I know little of the actua..."

I like your analysis Vikz - the insight is very much bound up with how Strickland affects of those around him. I think it demonstrates a human need to 'understand' eachother and that anyone who absents themselves from the 'normal' workings of society cannot be 'worked out' and is therefore looked upon with suspicion.

I persoanlly admire Strickland his ability to cast off the human sense of responsibility for protecting the feelings of other around us.

If we were each to be totally and selfishly 'me' the world could not function (nor would I like to live in a world like that).

But every now and then I have the 'I want to be alone' urge - As a typical 'i' type personality myself, I long to absent myself from what Sawyer has aptly referred to as 'the facade'. (...of course if I managed to find myself alone I wouldn't be painting but reading!)

I would not want to see many Stricklands in this world but i admire those who manage to be totally and utterly their own version of 'me'.

Ally


Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) Ally wrote: "Vikz wrote: "Sawyer wrote: "My sympathies are still with Strickland, because he needs his selfish world in order to be the artist that he's meant to be. I confess, shamefacedly, that I know little..."

Very well said Ally


message 28: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
Well, I've finally finished. I had to keep putting this one down to do 'life chores' - mores the pity as I feel like I lost something in not reading this as one of my rollercoaster reads (...where I devour the story in next to no time at all).

I was intrigued to look at Gauguin's work, which I googled, and I can't really see much genius there (...but perhaps I need to see them in a gallery). But I loved how the book questionned what it takes to be a 'true' artist and some of the posturing on what makes 'good' art was quite profound and riveting.

I'm not sure about the attitude towards women displayed throughout this book but since I'm now officially in love with Maugham I'm inclined to pass it off as 'a sign of the times' in which it was written rather than a kick in the teeth for modern womanhood!

I loved it - I'm beginning to wonder if there will be any story of Maugham's that I won't feel the same way about.

Ally


message 29: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1439 comments Mod
Are there any more films based on Maugham's work? I was just looking at old threads and this one about the moon and sixpence would have made a good movie about artist Gauguin.


message 30: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1102 comments There are a few films shown on imdb.com under his name but it doesn't look likeThe Moon And Sixpence is one. There was apparently a series, possibly in England, in 1969-1970 - the Maugham Hour or something. Maybe they were made from his short stories/novellas. In addition to The Painted Veil, the Razor's Edge, the Letter, Rain/Miss Sadie Thompson, etc.


message 31: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1102 comments Just watched the movie of Moon and Sixpence with George Sanders and Herbert Marshall as Maugham. Excellent. Although I didn't think Strickland was quite as unpleasant in the movie as in the book.

But it was an enjoyable movie, particularly as it followed The Picture of Dorian Gray. Great night in front of the tube.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Moon and Sixpence (other topics)
Of Human Bondage (other topics)
Rain and Other South Sea Stories (other topics)
The Razor's Edge (other topics)
Cakes and Ale (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

W. Somerset Maugham (other topics)
Joan Mellen (other topics)