Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Cosmopolitans - W. Somerset Maugham



Cosmopolitans: Very Short Stories (London: Heinemann, 1936).

This collection contains twenty-nine short stories written between 1924-1929; as the title states, they are very short. Maugham explains in the preface that they are stories previously published in the magazine Cosmopolitan, whose editor at that time, Ray Long, liked on a Chinese Screen very much and commissioned Maugham to write for his magazine. The short sketches are ideal to fit two consecutive pages with space for illustrations and advertisements.

The collection includes:

  • Preface
  • Raw Material
  • Mayhew
  • German Harry
  • The Happy Man
  • The Dream
  • In a Strange Land
  • The Luncheon
  • Salvatore
  • Home
  • Mr. Know-All
  • The Escape
  • A Friend in Need
  • The Portrait of a Gentleman
  • The End of the Flight
  • The Judgment Seat
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper
  • French Joe
  • The Man with the Scar
  • The Poet
  • Louise
  • The Closed Shop
  • The Promise
  • A String of Beads
  • The Bum
  • Straight Flush
  • The Verger
  • The Wash-Tub
  • The Social Sense
  • The Four Dutchmen

They are delightful short stories, many of which are expert portraits of Maugham's fascinating characters. Some of the stories, such as "Mr. Know-All," "The Verger" and "The Ant and the Grasshopper" were later rendered into films. 

There is a simultaneous American edition of the same year published by Doubleday. The first edition with dust jacket is within very good price for this collection, for both UK and American editions. From the description, the Doubleday edition has gilt spine; the Heinemann one is the most standard, with Maugham's sign at the front with blue cloth. The copy I own is without dust jacket.

Please visit the free ebook - short stories to borrow the collection.

Modern editions can be found here: Search Amazon.com for cosmopolitans maugham

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