Short stories, all born of Maugham's experiences in Malaya, Singapore and other outposts of the former British Empire. Whether portraying a ship-borne flight from a lover's curse, murder in the jungle or the remembered East of a repatriate's suburban home, they reveal Maugham as a shrewd and human judge of character and soul.
Footprints in the Jungle Mabel P. & O. The Door of Opportunity The Buried Talent Before the Party Mr. Know-All Neil MacAdam The End of the Flight The Force of Circumstance
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 almost literally starved while pouring out novels and plays.
Maugham wrote at a time when experimental modernist literature such as that of William Faulkner, Thomas Mann, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf was gaining increasing popularity and winning critical acclaim. In this context, his plain prose style was criticized as 'such a tissue of clichés' that one's wonder is finally aroused at the writer's ability to assemble so many and at his unfailing inability to put anything in an individual way.
During World War I, Maugham worked for the British Secret Service . He travelled all over the world, and made many visits to America. After World War II, Maugham made his home in south of France and continued to move between England and Nice till his death in 1965.
These tales are quintessential Maugham: eccentric, idiosyncratic, unconventional. Wrapping the package in a colonial setting, he fashions long, lazy afternoons on verandahs, just on the edge of the jungle, with ladies sipping their tonics and gin and gents enjoying their whiskeys; he fashions long, lazy voyages across very calm oceans, always sunlit -- and then conjures a thunderclap, so that you spill your gin; so that the ocean heaves up a bit of menace.
This collection is even steven: half of the time Maugham delivers quite a conventional tale of colonialism, so that you're surprised there is no surprise at the end, given that it's Maugham; the other half, he delivers what could be termed "real zingers", and you smile because that's the Maugham you've come to know and love, the one who makes you see the strop and razor hidden behind the calmness of convention.
I like how he upsets the apple carts, just when you least expect it. What I especially like is that there is no lead-up drama: it's like watching an elegant lady in evening dress, strolling demurely down an avenue, suddenly break into a jig and moon the bystanders, and then continue strolling down the avenue as if nothing out of the ordinary had taken place.
Oh, and it's full of clichés, just like this review, because there's a comfort in that too, the shorthand of shared conventions which allows you to get right to the heart of the matter without wasting too many words. Great stuff!
Διηγήματα προερχόμενα από την ανατολή. Διηγήματα που σε βάζουν αμέσως στο κλίμα. Όλα σχεδόν έχουν να κάνουν με φόνους και τη διελεύκανσή τους. Ιδανικό ανάγνωσμα για καλοκαίρι. Χονολουλού, Σιγκαπούρη, Βόρνεο, Μαλαισία ...
“Far Estern Tales” là tuyển tập truyện ngắn của tác giả W. Somerset Maugham, lấy bối cảnh những năm đầu thế kỷ 20 tại Malaya, Singapore và các tiền đồn của Đế quốc Anh (British Empire) ngày xưa. Đây là những câu chuyện về những người Anh da trắng đến với xứ sở viễn Đông, những nơi xa xôi với nền văn hóa khác biệt so với phương Tây để làm việc hoặc sinh sống cùng vợ chồng của mình, hoặc đang trên đường về lại nước sau một khoảng thời gian làm việc tại tiền đồn. Rồi từ cái nền ấy, tác giả Maugham đã viết nên những câu chuyện soi rọi vào những góc khác nhau trong tâm hồn con người, ngập tràn những hỉ nộ ái ố, dần dần phơi bày ra trên trang sách những tấn bi kịch quen thuộc liên quan đến tình yêu, hôn nhân, cùng những sự thật mình không ngờ tới được.
Với cương vị là tác giả, Maugham cũng đồng thời là một vị thẩm phán đầy tính người, thẩm phán nhưng không cố tình phán xét cái phần con yếu đuối, cái phần kém hoàn hảo hoặc những điều đã thúc đẩy lối hành xử của một số nhân vật trong các câu chuyện, từ đó đưa đẩy đến kết cục cuối cùng. Tất cả những gì ông làm là soi chiếu cái nhìn của một nhà văn vào những suy nghĩ, tâm tư, hành động của nhân vật, cùng lúc nêu lên những câu hỏi về bản chất con người - những câu hỏi khó mà có lời giải đáp rõ ràng trắng đen. Và rồi ông để người đọc tự đọc lấy và cảm nhận, tự đưa ra những nhận định cho riêng mình.
Làm thế nào mà những người có cung cách hành xử lịch sự, đàng hoàng, tử tế có thể lại cũng có thể là những kẻ chủ mưu giết người máu lạnh? (“Footprints in the Jungle”). Một người phụ nữ trên chuyến tàu đi cùng một người đàn ông chạy trốn lời nguyền rủa từ tình nhân người gốc Malay của mình, cuối cùng đã nhận ra giá trị của việc thực sự sống hạnh phúc (“P. & O.”). Một người vợ quyết tâm từ bỏ người chồng luôn yêu thương mình vì nhận ra anh ta là một kẻ yếu đuối, nhát gan và thậm chí có phần phân biệt chủng tộc (“The Door of Opportunity”). Một người phụ nữ với giọng hát trời phú suốt nhiều năm ròng luôn cảm thấy cuộc đời mình trống rỗng, rằng lựa chọn một cuộc sống yên ổn với hôn nhân là lựa chọn sai lầm đã chôn vùi tài năng âm nhạc của bà, nhưng đồng thời bà cũng là người phụ nữ ngày ấy đã không sẵn sàng đánh đổi nhân phẩm của mình nhằm tiến thân trong giới showbiz đầy rẫy cám dỗ, thị phi và cả sự hiến dâng thân xác để được nổi tiếng (“The Buried Talent”). Một người phụ nữ kết hôn vội vã với một người đàn ông lớn tuổi hơn mình rất nhiều vì bản thân cô đã quá tuổi lựa chọn người chồng theo ý mình, để rồi sau khi cùng chồng đến xứ viễn Đông vì công việc của anh, đã nhận ra mình đã sai lầm cưới phải một tên nghiện rượu, người cần một người vợ không phải để yêu thương mà là để chăm bẵm, cứu vớt đời hắn ta khỏi con ma men luôn đeo bám hắn, và cái kết cục kinh hoàng, bất ngờ, khủng khiếp, không thể ngờ được, (“Before The Party”). Một chàng trai trẻ chạy trốn sự tấn công tình cảm của người phụ nữ là vợ của sếp anh, dẫn đến một cái kết bi kịch nhưng liệu có thể trách chàng trai ấy đã làm thế, (“Neil MacAdam”). Một người vợ những tưởng có thể vui vẻ hưởng thụ cuộc sống chốn viễn Đông người chồng yêu dấu của mình, nhưng rốt cuộc lại bàng hoàng, phẫn nộ và đau xót khi nghe chính anh ta thú nhận rằng (“The Force of Circumstance”).
Tất cả những nhân vật đó, những gì mà họ đã trải qua, đã làm, đã nói, một lần nữa là minh chứng cho sự phức tạp trong bản chất và tâm hồn con người. Giết người luôn là tội ác, nhưng nếu xét đến lý do cho hành động ấy và bản chất người thực hiện hành động ấy thì sẽ như thế nào? Đâu là giới hạn cho sự yếu đuối của con người, đặc biệt là đàn ông, khi không thể sống một mình trong một khoảng thời gian dài mà không có một người khác, đặc biệt là phụ nữ, ở cạnh bên, để rồi giấu giếm điều đó và lấy lý do cho việc có tình nhân là một “sự ép buộc của hoàn cảnh”? Và nếu mình là một trong những người phụ nữ, một trong những người vợ trong những câu chuyện ấy, thì mình sẽ hành xử thế nào đây, khi mà ngăn trở của thời đại chỉ cho phụ nữ một, hai lựa chọn, khi mà quyết định mình đưa ra trong tình huống ấy có thể thay đổi tất cả?
Thông qua những câu chuyện của ông, Maugham cũng cho thấy sự mong manh của những cuộc hôn nhân với vẻ ngoài hoàn hảo. Hình như cái gì hoàn hảo quá thì bên trong nó luôn tồn tại những vết nứt mơ hồ, và khi sự thật được hé lộ, câu chuyện quá khứ trước kia được lôi ra, hoặc chỉ cần một quyết định nhỏ, một biểu hiện nhỏ, một lời nói thôi, tất cả mọi thứ có thể tan tành… Mọi thứ không thể trở về bình thường như trước nữa. Đôi khi bi kịch chỉ cần nhiêu đó để thành hình, và để phá hủy những gì trước đây đã từng vẹn nguyên. Và một lần nữa, liệu rằng chúng ta có thể trách bất kỳ ai trong số những nhân vật đã dự phần vào những bi kịch ấy?... Độc giả chỉ có thể đọc và đưa ra những cảm nhận của riêng mình.
2.5* I found this a bit hit or miss. A couple of the stories i was interested in and the message meant. Others i thought seemed to be for little purpose. The imagery was great and in detail of the surroundings but overal i found the majority fell a little flat. I will read more from maugham tho for sure
Maugham effortlessly transports us to the exotic Far East, back to the colonial days. For the newcomer, it is an exciting, romantic adventure. To be waited on hand and foot, to control and decide the fate of other human beings, then tea on the lawn in the afternoon followed by tennis in the evening, what could be better? Well, for starters it is better to be a master rather than a servant in the colonial times. Life looks good but then things are never quite what they seem.
Ten short stories set in the Far East and Singapore gets the most mentions. Yeah! Although the places and activities are way before my time, there is a sense of familiarity to the stories that give them an authentic feel. Maugham’s descriptions are so vivid, you feel like you are in that place and time. The stories are of variable lengths and quality, but certain themes stand out.
Maugham seems rather preoccupied with death in its various forms. Whether it’s a missing person, fatal illness, suicide or even murder, death is never too far away in his writing.
Death ends all things and so is the comprehensive conclusion of a story but marriage finishes it very properly too and the sophisticated are ill-advised to sneer at what is by convention termed a happy ending. It is a sound instinct of the common people which persuades them that with this all that needs to be said is said. from The Razor’s Edge.
Maugham also has some issues with marriage. There are plenty of broken marriages and relationships in the stories. No wonder he decides to pair marriage up with death.
Women are often not portrayed in a good light, ranging from vengeful to importunate to vulnerable to dependent. There are a few exceptions though. Seems rather misogynistic but men are also presented as flawed, from drunkenness to unfaithfulness to weakness.
Generally, the stories are pretty bleak and depressing, but two stories do stand out.
P&O is my favourite. It is multilayered, dealing with a variety of issues. Apart from the usual death and infidelity, it also highlights the class divide. Superstition is something which both locals and foreigners have in common.
I found Neil MacAdam to be hilarious, whether it was meant to be or not. The protagonist is an exasperating character with his naivete and cluelessness. He does deserve some respect though for his rectitude and his uncompromising morality.
Όλα τα διηγήματα είναι κομψοτεχνήματα. Ταξίδια στον νότιο Ειρηνικό, εγκλήματα και έρωτες, στοχασμοί για την ανθρώπινη ύπαρξη. Πανέμορφο βιβλίο σε μια υπέροχη έκδοση, ιδανικό για καλοκαίρι, αφού ξεχειλίζει από υγρασία, θάλασσα κι εξωτικά τοπία.
Στην εισαγωγή ο Μομ ξεκίνησε με υποσχέσεις, λέγοντας πως γράφει γι�� την χαρά της διήγησης. Θέλει να πει μια όμορφη ιστορία, αφήνοντας τα ψυχογραφήματα για άλλους. Εις πείσμα των καιρών του γράφει για την χαρά της διήγησης, πέρα από διδάγματα και βαθύτερα νοήματα. Πράγμα που έχει διαμορφώσει την μυθοπλασία των Βρετανών και για αυτό τους λατρεύω.
Η Ανατολή της Ινδονησίας, της Σιγκαπούρης, των αποικιών ζωντανεύει σε τούτες τις ιστορίες. Συνήθως από την σκοπία του ταξιδευτή, που ακούει ιστορίες πάνω σε καράβια και μέσα σε κακόφημα μπαρ. Οι απαιτήσεις μου, όμως, ύστερα από τις υποσχέσεις του Μομ ήταν αυξημένες. Περίμενα ζουμερές ιστορίες, με συγκίνηση και ανατροπές. Ο παιδευμένος πια αναγνώστης, με τα πάμπολλα και ποικίλα αναγνώσματα και με τον σύγχρονο κινηματογράφο να έχει εμπλουτίζει τους μύθους μας, έχει άλλες απαιτήσεις. Και χωρίς την καυστικότητα και την εμβρίθεια του Γκριν και του Ίβλιν Γω, φαντάζουν κάπως γυμνά τα ευρήματα του Μομ εδώ πέρα, αν κανείς το καταβροχθίσει για την συγκίνηση ευφάνταστων διηγήσεων. Ωστόσο, υπό μια άλλη οπτική το βιβλίο λειτουργέι όμορφα: έχουν έναν παράξενο, υπνωτικό ρυθμό οι ιστορίες του, και γεννούν ζωντανές εικόνες από μια εποχή που η Ανατολή ακόμα ήταν εξωτική. Έμαθα καινούριους τόπους και συνήθειες, συνάντησα Ευρωπαίους που ξενιτεύονταν ή ξέμεναν αποκομμένοι σε κάποια φυτεία, άλλοι υπηρετώντας σε διοικητικά πόστα σάλευαν, άλλοι έψαχναν λησμονημένους έρωτες και χαμένες ζωές.
Με ταξίδεψε ο Μομ εδώ. Το έκανε πολύ καλά, με την δική του τέχνη, και αν ψάχνετε κάτι τέτοιο θα σας ικανοποιήσει σίγουρα.
I have wanted to read Maugham for a long time and picked up several of hid works but not touched them until now. I have to say inwas very impressed with this book and collection of stories. A most excellent introduction to his writing.
Most stories are vert engaging and enjoyable, wonderful studies of character and place and most do contain tragedy.
It is very colonial British and the language is of its time, not one for easily offended but judged on the merits of when it was published and its audience, certainly an enjoyable read.
I will look forward to reading more Maugham and have several on the bookshelf waiting to be cracked open.
W. Somerset Maugham has written a lot more than colonial stories, but its these by which he is best remembered. 'Far Eastern Tales' is a compilation of ten stories from the 1920s and 1930s, all set in colonial Malaysia, Singapore and Borneo. All are about white men and women living in these tropical regions, but in some the jungle forms only the background of the story. The stories vary widely in content: three are crime stories, two involve a mysterious death, and the shortest, 'Mabel' is a rather silly comic tale. All stories have their merit, yet Maugham is at his best when he evokes a sense of loss, despair and miscommunication. His portraits of ill-fated marriages are strong and feel very real. Thus even a crime story like 'Before the Party' is impressive mostly for its deeply tragic content. Most beautiful is 'The Buried Talent' in which two old friends in their fifties look back on their lives, and realize what they might have missed. Also strong are 'Neil MacAdam', in which a young Scotsman is seduced by the Russian wife of his patron, and 'The Door of Opportunity', in which a woman discovers that her husband is less perfect than she hoped he would be...
It's been my first encounter with Mr Maugham, and I daresay it was such a pleasure, my dear. His elegance and wit took me on a lovely journey into the jungle of human character and the most peculiar life of British colonialists.
Another Maugham novel in quick succession for me and this was chosen for the Malaya and Singapore subject matter. I find it difficult to review a book of short stories as there is such a difference between stories and my feelings can vary from story to story, but overall, this is one of the better short story collections that I have read. There are many superior stories and often my expectations were flipped or surprised mid-way through which I enjoyed. They are quite different in terms of subject matter but tend to favour the experiences of British subjects living in the Far East. One thing that struck me with this book, in contrast to other stories of colonial experiences, is that Maugham seems more positive in his description of the country and the climate than other writers. Often authors seem miserable and oppressed by the heat, the damp or the jungle but Maugham's characters seem more appreciative. It is still heavily, negatively influenced by colonial attitudes towards local people and local culture but I felt there was an affection there that I don't often see.
In the audiobook, this collection of tales about British colonial life in Asia is conjured vividly to life by the wonderful Robert Powell. Fair warning: the book must be read as a product of its time (as this was originally written in the 30's) as depictions of the indigenous Asian people who populate the story are orientalist and frequently xenophobic.
To read this collection of Maugham short stories is to be whisked away to another time, another place. It's an awful lot like watching a scratchy old black and white adventure film from the 1930s, such as Red Dust or Lady of the Tropics. It just gets everything perfect in transporting the reader to a spot in time and place that existed only ever so briefly but still stirs the imagination of many a reader.
One thing about these stories: nearly all of them seem to be set on a veranda. In that sense, they remind me of Conrad's Almayer's Folly. Instead of a sitting room, it is the veranda that acts as a barrier to the pulsating jungle forest just a few steps on. Lives are lived on these verandas. Passions and fears exhibited against their backdrop. (Aside: if you live in this part of the world, you would know how much magic these fixtures on houses have. Even as I write this, I'm looking out the doorway to my own veranda in the suburbs of Bangkok.) But it's a way of living that is also quickly disappearing, along with high ceilings, and musty rooms with their scorching heat in the dry season and limp humidity in the rainy season.
And what of the settings of most of these stories? Today, if you go to Malaysia, the roads are paved and well maintained. Kuala Lumpur contains a harvest of malls and aircon laden hotels and restaurants. The transformation is even more severe in Singapore, where the beehive of the subway has made much surface traffic disappear. In both places the canals, rivers, and sampans no longer exist as an ongoing means of transportation. (Only in Bangkok do the riverboats and ferries continue to ply their trade in a manner reminiscent of 60 or 70 years ago.) If you want to experience the world of the Far East described in these stories, you'll only do so on the pages of Maugham's tales.
All of this, of course, only describes the backdrop of these stories. It is the characters in them that make them ultimately memorable. They are of a type also no longer with us. Broken down planters. Jaded colonial bureaucrats. And men and women always in a state of sexual frustration. And most of them cratering into despair and moral failure accompanied by a Singapore sling or gin fizz.
So many favourites in this - most people like Rain more than any other, at any rate it is the most discussed one. My personal favourite however is Virtue, an unforgettable one.
There are many, many others of course - Round Dozen for one, with amusing details of a much married man aggrieved by one of his wives turning him in.
Then there is the heartbreaking one of love and loss that I can't think of the name and it is a rare one for lack of cynical or otherwise bringing the reader down to earth sort of twist.
There is Letter with its murder of a paramour gone wrong due to his having left a letter with his mistress who extorts the full value,
There is the story about a widow who married a friend of her murdered husband and the daughter who looks like the second husband.
And there is another one with the Italian husband murdering his own father on suspicion of an affair between his father and his wife.
And all these are only what I can recall off hand after three decades or so.
I suppose the one of love and death with grief and heartbreak remains close to heart, along with Virtue that remains close to conviction, with total agreement with the protagonist by the time the story is over.
I wish I could remember if the story about the expensive wife becoming beautiful is here, or it is by another writer. .................................................................................
The Round Dozen:-
About a much marrying man who was much aggrieved and felt a genuine sense of injury and grievance when one of his wives informed the law - not particularly handsome or accomplished in any way whatsoever, middle aged and lower class and not educated nor sophisticated nor well to do, he had nevertheless developed a talent for marrying successfully by his own definition. He found lonely older women of certain financial independence at holiday places and paid them attention, and post marriage gave them a good time until their money ran out. Then it was time to move on. To his chagrin, there was a small matter of having married only eleven times. Most of his wives were in fact willing to take him back.
After his leaving prison, the protagonist received a post card from him one day, and understood he had made his round dozen to his satisfaction after all. .....................................................................................
This must have been terribly shocking to the hypocritical and pious while being nothing new to those without blinkers, when published first - 20th century was nothing if not one that shredded many such veils of pretension from established societies of west.
The story takes place on a voyage in Pacific where a woman of certain profession is having fun along with a few of males around - after all being alone most of their lives far away from home was tough on the guys, and an accommodating woman who was not merely paid goods but one with some spirit, some heart and joy, was a blessing.
Unfortunately for them there is not merely a usual contingent of the disapproving couples and other respectable members of society but also a preacher very sure and proud of himself, who goes after the woman with denunciation and promised hell fire to all that would consort with her. She is brought to abject surrender and is entirely dependent on him subsequently in her submission to a pious life henceforth. And the preacher is willing to sacrifice himself, to go to her at any hour of day or night she might need him, as his wife very proudly testifies to his selfless sacrifice of his own comforts.
The preacher meanwhile has dreams of hills of Nebraska (having read it so long ago I could be wrong about the name of the particular state) - and then one day the preacher is found dead, having committed suicide, while there is sound of phonograph and laughter and dancing from the room of the woman who was trying to reform, and a note of bitter victory.
She was sincere in her repentance and her attempt to reform, but the high minded preacher all too fallible and unaware of his own Achilles's heel shared with all life, if not more than a little hypocritical in his imposition of his will and his standards of virtue on all and sundry. ..............................................................
We are begun on a gentle note with the story of a forty odd year old man, caustic and yet much loved but admittedly difficult, finding love and being completely smitten with his wife he considers himself fortunate to marry - he is the same man but now happy and his acerbic nature is taken now as wit due to his basking in his wife's love, a much loved woman in society, and their insistence on being put up together when invited is an amusing embarrassment for hostesses who lack room and are used to couples wishing to be put up rather apart.
And then there is an acquaintance of the writer (protagonist really, except one tends to assume he is the writer) from colonies in Malaya, a young man who needs to have some company and is introduced to the couple. Some time later, the couple is separated, and the wife is adamant in not returning to the husband, and he commits suicide.
The protagonist is called to interpret a letter from the young man in Malaya who has now returned, and informed that he is responsible for the love that the young man and the not so young wife (now widow) fell into since he introduced them. The letter is cautious and sympathetic about her loss but equivocal about her prospects of being able to come to Malaya to marry him.
The hostess, a friend of the protagonist makes the observation that it is up to him to make the young man realise his responsibility having gone into the love affair and caused the separation, which is when it becomes clear that the wife in love with another man had never crossed her limits being a virtuous woman.
"Virtue be damned" informs her the protagonist, since it had caused so much grief and a death of a loving husband - if only the wife had quietly had had her affair and finished it the man would still be alive.
And while to some pompous hypocrites it would be an opportunity to gasp and act shocked, today the reality of that statement is only too obvious, what with "the lack of commitment" of males being so huge a problem in US. ..........................................................
Somerset Maugham is a master storyteller and what makes his short stories a wonderful read are that they are peopled by flawed, quirky characters. This particular collection is set in the early 20th century in the Far East when the British were ruling the roost. What is most interesting is the manner in which the author brings out the peculiarities of his characters. So in Neil Macadam, the protagonist is a well mannered youngster with all the right values but when he comes across the promiscuous wife of his boss, his hackles are raised. His beliefs on how women should behave leads him to take an action that is downright monstrous. Another story about a recently widowed woman throws light on how her family is hell bent on maintaining a false facade while shoving the truth under the carpet. What is perhaps even more fascinating is that through these stories, the author's own prejudices towards Asians comes across quite starkly-- his disparaging (and dismissive) remarks about Malays and other Easterners are quite grating...In that sense the stories are a reflection of the times they were written in.
Πρόκειται για μια συλλογή μικρής έκτασης διηγημάτων, τα οποία διαδραματίζονται στην εποχή που η βρετανική αυτοκρατορία βρίσκεται στα όρια της κατάρρευσης της. Αυτό το στοιχείο είναι κρίσιμο γιατί σε όλες τις ιστορίες είναι διάχυτη η αίσθηση της παρακμής, όχι μόνο της βρετανικής γραφειοκρατίας αλλά και στους ανθρώπους που απαρτίζουν τους πρωταγωνιστές αυτών των ιστοριών, οι οποίοι αντιλαμβάνονται, έστω με δυσκολία, ότι αποτελούν τους τελευταίους των τελευταίων. Παράλληλα, ένα κλίμα νοσηρότητας παρεμβάλλεται, κανείς από τους ήρωες δεν φαίνεται να θέλει να αλλάξει την πραγματικότητα του, τις συνήθειες του, αποδέχεται τα πράγματα ως έχουν, χωρίς άλλες σκέψεις ή τουλάχιστον δεν μας τις μοιράζονται μαζί μας! Να πω ότι καμία ιστορία δεν έχει αίσιο τέλος, όταν ξεκινάς την ανάγνωση δεν σκέφτεσαι τι σου επιφυλάσσει η εξέλιξη της ιστορίας αλλά από την μέση του βιβλίου και μετά εξοικειώνεσαι ότι κάτι πρόκειται να συμβεί στον πρωταγωνιστή. Είναι το 2ο βιβλίο του, μου αρέσει πολύ η γραφή του, τώρα ο στόχος είναι να διαβάσω κάποιο βιβλίο που να μην είναι με διηγήματα.
Sometimes the heat is so enervating, the descriptions repetitive: blue sky sprinkled with clouds, energetic peopled friendly, unlike Conrad's dark brooding atmosphere. Dated: But the darkies are different from "us whites"; Brits will never understand the subjegated races - a repeated theme; loneliness causes men to take native wives and leave families for wives from "home".
Part of the reason I skipped could be also because I'd read these before; plots are memorable but I'd forgotten the ending of the loose-moral Russian woman who takes young lovers but mistook a fresh-faced Scot virgin, or I never finished.
Highly enjoyable, well written, thoughtful, observant and captivating. The longer short stories are substantial and the shorter interludes have bite. A vivid portrayal of Europeans in Malaya in the late flowering of the British empire. The ethnic characterisations are of their time. Whilst not an obvious proponent of white supremacy, Maugham is not a very avert critic either, but being an acute observer, his portraits ring true, and rather confirm a critical modern view of imperialism. Whilst so popular a writer can hardly be called "underrated" his work stands up and whilst of its time is not dated in a negative sense, his observations still resonate, and I recommend this unreservedly.
Maugham captures the world of Empire and British society deftly in these short stories. Two of them are really just shaggy dog tales, but the longer character driven pieces are excellent and subtly build tension and drama until a moment of crisis where long building undercurrents burst out. Neil MacAdam, Force of Circumstance, The Door of Oppurtunity and Before the Party are all brilliant examples of this, combining characteelr work with thematic explorations of imperial life. Maugham also has an excellent way of introducing a sudden swerve or change in the story which elevates them above mere period pieces.
Νουάρ ιστορίες στα νησιά του Ειρηνικού, στις αρχές του προηγούμενου αιώνα. Λεπτομερής αποτύπωση της σχέσης συμβίωσης/ επιβολή�� του Βρετανικού αποικιοκρατικού κόσμου στις τοπικές κοινωνίες των νησιών του Ειρηνικού, μέσα από μικρά διηγήματα- ανθρώπινες ιστορίες πόνου, φθόνου και μένους. Μικρές ιστορίες για μικρούς ανθρώπους. Καθηλωτική αφήγηση, με μια εσάνς αστυνομικού μυθιστορήματος. Καταπληκτικό βιβλίο!
Maugham’s tales about British gentry living and working overseas waxes and wanes with Twilight Zone-esque quirk or Hitchcockian tongue-in-cheek. short, droll stories that shed some insight on 19th century British character and colonialism itself. many also skewer them outright. i picture Maugham writing these with a wry smirk.
Maugham is a superb storyteller, and as this fine collection of his short stories shows, he is as deft with the pen as a master painter with the brush. While I read colonial fiction mainly for the descriptions of historic scenes both natural and man made, it is the characters and their drama where the author truly excels at creating - the tension often so thick you can cut it with a knife.
Τα διηγήματα δεν είναι κακογραμμένα, αλλά δεν είναι και καλογραμμένα. Εκτός ίσως από τον Μάκιντο, που το θεώρησα το καλύτερο της συλλογής, οι υπόλοιπες ιστορίες δεν έχουν τίποτα το εξαιρετικό είτε υφολογικά είτε όσον αφορά την υπόθεση. Το βιβλίο είναι αυτό που λέμε "για παραλία", αδιάφορο, χωρίς απαιτήσεις, χρησιμοποιεί τις -τότε-συνηθισμένες αφηγηματικές "εκπλήξεις" (για παράδειγμα τη συνηθισμένη για την εποχή διήγηση μέσα στη διήγηση), χωρίς τίποτα το καινοτόμο στο ύφος ή στο νόημα. Δεν θα το πρότεινα, εκτός κι αν κάποιος ενδιαφέρεται ιδιαίτερα για τις αποικιοκρατικές ιστορίες. Η μετάφραση καλή.
Fantastic stories which I loved even more since I've been living here for almost 15 years. I'd give it 5 stars but for the couple of weaker, albeit also shorter, stories which had an element of supposedly Far Eastern mystery.
Nuanced stories of relationships between men and women in such a different time and place. Headhunters but jolly good chaps. Newspapers a month late from Home. Women making cosy homes at the edges of the Empire.
I got this as a gift right before leaving London for Singapore in 2017. Great intro to the region and realisation of the long lasting impact of the British Empire in their former colonies, for good and bad.