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The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

The Razor's Edge (1944)

by W. Somerset Maugham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,893921,399 (4.09)241
  1. 10
    Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (anabela_aguiar)
    anabela_aguiar: Um dos melhores livros sobre a chegada da idade adulta e todos os factores que influenciam a nossa actuação nesta sociedade.
  2. 00
    Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius by Ray Monk (JuliaMaria)
  3. 00
    The Fires of Autumn by Irène Némirovsky (librorumamans)
    librorumamans: Both Némirovsky and Maugham look at the effects of World War I on individuals and on social values. Both are fine novels.
  4. 11
    On a Chinese Screen by W. Somerset Maugham (John_Vaughan)
  5. 00
    The Collected Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham, Vol. 2 by W. Somerset Maugham (John_Vaughan)
  6. 00
    Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: A young man on a journey, both literally and spiritually. Philosophical.

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» See also 241 mentions

English (83)  Italian (3)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
It was the film adaptation starring Bill Murray which brought this arresting tale to my attention. There were likely a half dozen viewings of the film before i picked this up and devoured one winter's day, the stilted light reflected from the snow outside and cast the room in bizarre aura. It appeared appropriate. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Last year while working at Clearwater, a coworker told me that this book changed her life. And this girl was not one for hyperbole. At least not books. Puppies, sure. Ice cream probably. But not books. So this was a recommendation to let cool for awhile.

The Razor's Edge may not have shaken my rock-solid life, but it was pleasant (I'm searching for a word, because that one feels like faint praise, but I mean it) and thought-provoking book. Maugham was an old fashioned storyteller when compared to the modernists that surrounded him. Even the meta-fictional aspects of his work, using himself as a narrator, and the detailed faux biographical conceits of The Moon and Sixpence, are in line with Victorian writers like Stoker and Stevenson. His style is elegant and simple, and plenty of the humor and description that made The Moon and Sixpence so much fun to read. The Razor's Edge gets an upper hand over that book though, because of the substance of it. Strickland abandons his family on his quest of self-discovery and dissipation, Larry Darrell is the soul of kindness and somehow comes across as that impossible creature, the moralist without judgement. There are other characters, great ones, and a large number of events that have very little to do with him but they are ultimately window dressing. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Maughmam is a very good author. Many themes addressed. A good read. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
(53) This was an interesting though odd book. Maugham himself is the narrator of a rambling tale of a a group of young Americans, principally, Larry. Larry is an orphan of independent means who returns from WW1 a changed young man - he tells his fiancee Isabel he means to 'loaf' instead of getting a job. Thus begins a third-person recounting, sometimes skipping huge chunks of years, where we hear of Larry and Isabel as they go their separate ways only when they happen to come into contact with Maugham.

Isabel goes on to achieve the type of 'good life' she always wanted - marriage, children, money, possessions, 'society.' This book focuses quite a bit on hobnobbing with the right crowd, going to the right parties, being seen as fashionable, etc. Isabel's Uncle Elliot is the embodiment of this ideal and he is the most memorable character of the bunch - especially his dismayed need to decline the invitation to the party of the year as he lay on his deathbed - "due to a previously made engagement with the Heavenly Father." Hilarious in a wry way.

Larry's path takes him on an introspective journey throughout the world - working in a coal mine, an ashram in India, studying in libraries in Heidelberg, a stint at a monastery. We do eventually hear what Larry has gleaned - mindfulness, gnosis, nirvana, hypnosis, among other things.

Anyway, it is hard to say what this book is really about. The closing lines sum in up nicely, I guess - success means different things to different people. I enjoyed the novel quite a bit. At times it was spellbinding, at times a bit dull. Occasionally even funny. It's messy structure and meandering plot prevents a higher rating though. I did not like this as much as the wonderful 'On Human Bondage,' and perhaps even a touch less than 'A Painted Veil.' ( )
  jhowell | Nov 25, 2018 |
This was an early 20th century trans-Atlantic treat. I loved the depiction of the Americans in Europe making their ways.
"'Why Bonn?' I interrupted.
'I'd taken a fancy to it when we stopped off there on our tramp down the Rhine. I liked the way the light shone on the roofs and the river, and its old narrow streets, and its villas and gardens and avenues of chestnut trees and the rococo buildings of the university. It struck me then it wouldn't be a bad place to stay in for a bit.'" (p. 114)

Maugham is also a great caricaturist.

Elliot Templeton, perhaps the most fully realized character in the story, "had always felt that nature was an impediment to the social life, and he had no patience with people who could bother to go see a lake or a mountain when they had before their eyes a Regency commode or a painting by Watteau" (122). Later, the narrator says of Elliot, "I never ceased to admire the way in which, while he bowed with courtly grace to those exalted personages, he managed to maintain the independent demeanor of the citizen of a country where all men are said to be born equal" (123).

Of an occupant of a Parisian cafe in the early hours: "He had the tired but satisfied mien of one who looks back with complacency upon a night of amorous dalliance." (p. 283)

And, finally, close to the end, a final observation: "One of the less agreeable features of French life is that you are apt to be pressed to drink a glass of vinegary port at an unseasonable hour. You must resign yourself to it." (p. 309)

A pleasant diversion, part 20th century Americans abroad idyll, part watery South Asian anti-materialist philosophy, and mostly diverting writing. ( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
W. Somerset Maughamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kelk, C.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maddigan, AngelaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martone, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, MichaelReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tarner, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over;
thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.

~ Katha-Upanishad
First words
I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. If I call it a novel it is only because I don't know what else to call it.
A mother only does her children harm if she makes them the only concern of her life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140185232, Paperback)

The story of the spiritual odyssey of a young American in search of God.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Leaving wealth and loved ones behind, Larry Darrell journeys to the mountains of India in search of spiritual wisdom.

» see all 7 descriptions

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