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65 Short Stories by W. Somerset Maugham

65 Short Stories

by W. Somerset Maugham

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Magnificently varied in theme this collection of stories is a treat. Keeps the reader guessing every time wondering where the story going to go. ( )
1 vote charlie68 | Nov 27, 2013 |
Somerset Maugham is widely regarded as one of the leading short story writers of all time, an author whose best work arguably rivals that of de Maupassant and Chekhov, and transcends writings of lesser figures like O. Henry and H.H. Munro. This compilation offers perhaps the most extensive one - volume collection of Maugham's short stories ever published. In breadth, it is second only to the multi-volume "complete short stories" collections published in paperback and hardback some years ago.

The 65 stories making up this compilation were (for the most part) first published in the 30 years following the First World War. They span a wide range of genres, including tales from the far east and from the south sea islands (for which Maugham is well-known), the Ashenden espionage stories, and vignettes and character studies. They contain social commentary, satire, humor, drama, terror, despair, pathos, sex, and death. In short, they encompass the range of the human experience, rendered in exquisitely sensitive prose in which every word matters. Maugham is a consummate artist with the English language, and the subtlety and nuances of his prose requires careful attention from his readers; but he rewards such attention many times over.

This volume was first published by Somerset Maugham's estate in 1976, and reprinted in 1979 and in 1985. Second hand copies are widely available; thus it may be the most accessible way for many readers to experience his work. It is highly recommended for readers who wish to explore some of the best work of a master of the short story genre.

Note added 8/2011 Since writing this review, I have discovered the enjoyment of reading Maugham's stories in the original collections. Those collections give a historical and thematic context to the stories contained therein. While this large compilation presents most of Maugham's short stories, they are not offered in a coherent order or with explanation of their origins and history, and a few of what I consider the author's best are not included. Read this book, by all means, if the opportunity arises; or better still, seek used (and inexpensive) copies of the original collections. ( )
6 vote danielx | Oct 16, 2010 |
Nearly all of the stories in this collection are highly polished gems. Maugham manages to portray a complete, self-contained universe in each of the stories, with an economy of language that is astonishing. An illustration of this is The Verger, in which Maugham tells the story of the fall and rise of an illiterate church functionary, Albert Edward Forman, in a mere 4-1/2 pages. ( )
3 vote challey | Feb 17, 2007 |
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