Es una novela de ideas y de carcter. Los personajes principales son estadounidenses de clase media alta, a pesar de Maugham, en su propia persona como el escritor, es el narrador. El personaje principal es Larry Darrell, un ex aviador de la I Guerra Mundial que est obsesionado por el hecho de que su amigo fue asesinado salvando la vida de Larry. Buscando una respuesta a la pregunta de por qu existe el mal en el mundo, Larry establece una bsqueda que lo lleva a la India, donde estudia con un gur y gana iluminacin mstica. El enfoque espiritual de Larry a la vida contrasta con el materialismo de los otros personajes, tales como Gray Maturn, quien se convierte en un rico corredor de bolsa, y Elliot Templeton, un hombre mundano y superficial, que pasa la mayora de su tiempo socializando en partidos de clase superior. En su representacin de un joven que rechaza los valores dominantes de la cultura americana y que mira hacia el Oriente para la inspiracin espiritual, Maugham prev el trabajo de los escritores Beat de los s y los valores de la contracultura de los sesenta.
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Somerset Maugham. Published in the U. In , I came into a creative stride, writing first drafts of a short story and a novella and completing the groundwork for the final draft of a novel. I started smoking a pipe. I started a new job which will finance A, B and C pipe smoking and chess playing being modest luxuries but my new salary being modest as well. Like compelling characters in all great dramas, or all chess pieces, each has a measurable affect on the other while at their core, remain true to their disparate natures to the end.
The story begins in Chicago immediately following the First World War in and concludes in Paris immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War in The worlds that Maugham explores are not geopolitical so much as they are spiritual. His six unforgettable characters might as well be on an island together.
Stopping in Chicago on his way to the Far East, Maugham crosses paths with Elliott Templeton, an acquaintance of fifteen years, an American living abroad whose expertise as a broker in fine art has allowed him to ingratiate himself in English and French high society, where the elegant bachelor lives and breathes for event planning and cultivating social relationships.
They were afraid he was a snob. And of course he was. He was a colossal snob. He was a snob without shame. He would put up with any affront, he would ignore any rebuff, he would swallow any rudeness to get asked to a party he wanted to go to or make a connection with some crusty old dowager of great name.
He was indefatigable. When he had fixed his eye on his prey he hunted it with the persistence of a botanist who will expose himself to dangers of flood, earthquake, fever, and hostile natives to find an orchid of peculiar rarity.
Elliott is in Chicago visiting his sister when he invites Maugham to a luncheon at her home on Lake Shore Drive. It is later revealed that Larry was an aviator in the war and has recently returned from Europe. She introduces Maugham to Gray Maturin, son of a millionaire investment banker in Chicago who is as virile and strong as Larry is puny and unassuming. He tells his sister that if the young people had the civility of the French, Isabel would marry Gray and take Larry as her lover, while Gray offered himself as benefactor to a prominent actress and everyone could be happy.
Maugham holds a higher impression of Larry and finding him in a library reading Principles of Psychology, learns the veteran has rejected college as summarily as he has a career.
I was butting into an affair that was no concern of mine, but I had a notion that just because I was a stranger from a foreign country Larry was not disinclined to talk to me about it. I had to laugh. Isabel lures Larry on a picnic where she reads him the riot act: She loves him but believes that a man must work, as a matter of self-respect.
Being a pilot gave him time to think, and watching his friend in the air corps sacrifice himself for Larry has led him to the choice of leaving America and searching for his own answers.
Larry visited Paris several times on leave and knowing no one there, finds the city as good a place as any to begin his sabbatical. Giving himself a year or two at the most, he compels Isabel to wait for him. He wants to know whether God is or is not. For by now she knew her value. On this occasion, having seen the break coming, she had made her plans.
She picked out a young man who was unattached and who, she thought, had talent. You need a woman to look after you. He was amused at her proposal and she saw he was inclined to accept. There were moments when his male gaze over Isabel raised my eyebrow, but overwhelmingly, the writing felt as contemporary or vital as any written in recent years.
Humor, tension and sensuality were equally strong throughout. I like to think that most people fantasize about walking away from the daily grind to see the world, reading, learning another language or just staring at the clouds. This has a greater hold on me than dragons or orcs and Maugham took me from the world of business and politics off the beaten path to the world of faith with a masterful facility that will be with me for a while.
In my mind, Larry, Isabel and Suzanne are still out there, somewhere, and so is this perfect book.
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