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The Servant

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In this dark, haunting tale, Richard Merton recounts the story of his close friend, Tony, a young lawyer recently returned from the war, and the subtle, sinister destruction of his personality by his servant, Barrett. Seeking ease and comfort, Tony hires Barrett to cater to his needs, not realizing that his new servant has a hidden agenda. As Barrett gradually and ...more
Paperback, 100 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Valancourt Books (first published 1948)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  167 ratings  ·  29 reviews


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Cassio Queiros
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-romance
"A short novel which is a highly skilled portrait in parasitism and one which, in its economy, its concentration, succeeds as a horror story of considerable brightness and sharpness...Not without decadence, but also with considerable fascination, this may find a special audience." (Kirkus Review)
I agree with this opinion.
Weird, disturbing and enigmatic book.
Faith
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This was every bit as twisted, debauched and creepy as the wonderful movie.
Nancy Oakes
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uk-fiction, 1940s
I brought this book with me to read on my long weekend away and left it in the hotel yesterday (an older, hardcover copy from 1973, WH Allen) but to my great delight, my Valancourt edition was waiting for me when I got home (thanks!). Since I was still on west coast time and not at all sleepy, I read the entire novel last night and then after finishing, laid there and thought about it for a long time. Sheesh -- in just under one hundred pages Maugham tells a deep, frightening, and ...more
Mary
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes short stories
Recommended to Mary by: Paperback Swap
Set in London just after World War II, Richard Merton tells the story of Tony, a close friend and fellow Army officer, who - breaking ties with old friends and habits - steadily falls under the influence of his sinister new butler, Barrett. Concerned for his friend, Richard slowly uncovers a strange affair which shatters both class and sexual barriers and turns the servant into the master, and the master into the servant. I really did enjoy this book and give it an A+!

This is the first time that
...more
Doug
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently re-watched the iconic film made from this slim novella, and also read Maugham's The Wrong People, both of which impelled me to seek out this peculiar little gem. While the film follows the basic outlines of the plot, Pinter's screenplay owes more to his own genius than to its progenitor, but the book has much to recommend it also. It can be read in little over an hour, and is well worth the time spent. Its curious mysteries and sense of impending dread are really quite wonderfully ...more
Tosh
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robin Maugham's classic tale of a rich nothing who hires a servant who understands the role in such a decadent household. A very smart look how relationships work - and the nature of sexual power. Fantastic film as well, directed by Joseph Losey, script by Pinter, starring James Fox and Dirk Bogarde. But read the book, it's a great one.
George K.
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Ήθελα να διαβάσω κάτι μικρό, που να μην μου πάρει πολλή ώρα, έτσι διάλεξα την συγκεκριμένη νουβέλα, που αποτελεί και την βάση για την κλασική ομότιτλη ταινία του 1963, σε σκηνοθεσία του Joseph Losey, σενάριο του Harold Pinter και με πρωταγωνιστή τον Dirk Bogarde. Δεν μπορώ να πω ότι ξετρελάθηκα.

Η ιστορία γράφτηκε το 1948 και για την εποχή της ήταν, ίσως, λιγάκι εκτός των ορίων, αλλά τώρα δεν μου έκανε κάποια ιδιαίτερη εντύπωση. Βρισκόμαστε στο μεταπολεμικό Λονδίνο και ο αφηγητής της νουβέλας,
...more
Bill
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not completely horrible. Just mildly boring. Evidently there was some underlying social commentary here from the late 40’s that I missed. It was probably there...somewhere.
Mor‌TeZa
|\| | |_ @ > M0127324:
خوب بود، اما چیز خیلی خاصی نداشت، از هيچ نظری..
داستان ساده ش مناسب به فیلم سینمایی جمع و جور بود، نه بیش تر!
انتظارم خیلی بیش از این ها بود
...more
Núria
Jun 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: los que crean que una película no puede superar el libro
'El sirviente' de Robin Maugham no es una obra que esté mal, pero definitivamente sabe a poco. Tengo la sensación que el principal problema es su extensión, que es demasiado larga para ser un cuento y demasiado corta para ser una novela. Quiero decir que con la concisión de un cuento probablemente habría ganado en eficacia y con la extensión de una novela probablemente podría haber ganado en profundidad. Con sólo 100 páginas de una letra immensa sabe a poco. Y para qué nos vamos a engañar, ...more
Roger Pettit
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1948, The Servant - written by the nephew of famous novelist and short story writer Somerset Maugham - is difficult to categorise. At 75 pages, it is longer than a short story but not long enough to be considered a novel. But I suppose that does not really matter very much. What is important is that it is a chilling, gripping and very well written story about the post-Second World War class system in Britain and the gradual moves towards a more meritocratic society that were ...more
Idarah
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
When I saw this movie, it scared me! It wasn't a thriller or even suspenseful, but it haunted me for many days afterward. I think it was haunting because it left so many questions unanswered, and as an audience I was left to imagine the worst. Too, I was bothered by the fact that I didn't hate the villain, Barrett, like I had surmised I was supposed to. It sparked a short-lived infatuation with Dirk Bogarde and the need to see all of his films!

The book wasn't any different, but the introduction
...more
Esther
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La magia de la literatura de corte clásico.
Una novela breve o relato extenso sobre Barrett, el extraño sirviente de Tony, contado por su amigo Richard.

Un ritmo lento que mantiene el misterio.
George Ilsley
A strange little book that has become the most well-known of Robin Maugham's works because it was made into a movie (written by Harold Pinter). Nothing is overt in the plot or the details -- everything (supposedly) is meant to stand for something else. At at least that is what the introduction to this volume would lead one to believe. In one scene, when Sally and RM go for a drink, they have martinis, then two more cocktails (both for Sally), then more drinks, then Sally sips her wine and then ...more
CasualDebris
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robin Maugham's The Servant is best remembered by Harold Pinter's 1963 film adaptation, also titled The Servant, directed by Joseph Losey. The film is quite different in content and approach, mainly because it was produced during a very different era. Maugham's novel is a grim depiction of post-war London; a squalid city where both the privileged and unprivileged must struggle to carve a place for themselves in society. Rules have changed, however, as the world has turned upside down.

As with F.
...more
Julia
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Curto e, por vezes, antiquado, essa novela de Robin Maugham é, todavia, astutamente recheada de subtexto e comentários sociais. Ambientada na Inglaterra dos anos 40, a trama consegue simultaneamente explicitar a subversão de status sociais e a decadência da esnobe e alienada aristocracia, assim como a energia sexual latente e reprimida da época, presente principalmente em homens queer e mulheres. Além dessas camadas, que abordam uma espécie de quadrado amoroso entre três homens e uma mulher e ...more
THE
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A noxious view of postwar London, pictured in its most squalid days, is the backdrop to this tale of deceit, class, power, and fear. If you are familiar with Joseph Losey's 1963 film with Dirk Bogarde and James Fox, this short novel will convey some chilling images that Harold Pinter created in the film script. Robin Maugham (like his noted uncle) was a fine storyteller and created an atmosphere of evil in his descriptions and dialogue. You will unquestioningly remember, no doubt distastefully, ...more
carelessdestiny
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nicely-plotted
It's such a short novella (almost an extended short story) yet it's drama is very convincingly creepy and evocative of a newly democratic London after WW11 but a city in which fear and class jealousy still lingers.
Alan
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exquisitely written little book by the nephew of W. Somerset Maugham.
Corey
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compact and powerful.
Sarah
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Short, weird, compelling.
Bridget
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the entire audiobook this afternoon. Kept having the pause and re-check that this was published in 1948... I can only imagine how scandalous this would have read back then. The homoerotic undercurrents were a whole thing here and I loved it.
errata: I kept thinking of Quint from The Turning of the Screw and Thomas Barrow and getting scrummy chills.
David Burkam
The comparison is neither fair nor avoidable -- but Robin Maugham is not as good a writer as his more-famous and more-talented uncle, although his personal life was every bit as fascinating.

This short novella is probably his best-known book (made more famous by the 1964 film version).
Aleardo Zanghellini
The premise is very good, execution so-so. I would have liked to see more of how the creepy manservant Barrett actually manipulates Tony, especially at the beginning, when he works his way into Tony's graces. Instead we are simply told that he does, and only later in the book we catch a glimpse of interactions between the two.
There's a rather subtle homoerotic subtext, both between the narrator and Tony, and between Tony and Barrett.
The narrator at one point in the first part of the story
...more
Jeffrey
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
A fine, grotesque novella, written with the sort of curled upper lip of its subjects.

The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Richard Thomas, who sounds like Richard E. Grant and couldn't fit the material better.
petit
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, contos
(3.4)
the film and the novella:
https://www.theguardian.com/film/film...
Mientras Leo
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dudando si poner tres o cuatro, lo que realmente me ha llamado la atención es lo escandaloso, lo cuidado y la época en que se escribió.
Steven
Oct 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, plays
A master-servant relationship tale with homosexual overtones and misogyny.
Cecilia
rated it really liked it
Aug 09, 2015
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