Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Six Stories Written in the First Person Singular - W. Somerset Maugham



Six Stories Written in the First Person Singular (London: Heinemann, 1931).

As the title of the collection indicates, these are stories narrated by the persona "I". They are among the longest short stories by Maugham. The narrator, in most cases, come in contact with the protagonists of the stories that he is going to tell. Except the "Alien Corn" which has a tragic element, the rest are well told and smooth stories of specific circumstances that verge on the ridiculous. "The Creative Impulse" reminds the reader of Cakes and Ale published a year before in its sarcasm towards the literary circle. One can't help but feel that Maugham had a great time writing it, and certainly the reader has a grand time reading it. It is a delight to denote such mutual enjoyment. No one can tell a malicious story so superbly with such an innocent look in his eye.

The collection contains the following stories:

  • Virtue
  • The Round Dozen
  • The Human Element
  • Jane
  • The Alien Corn
  • The Creative Impulse


Maugham opens his book with a habitual disclaimer that none of his character is based solely on one real person and points out the fact that when it is a laudable character his readers seldom accuse him of drawing from real life models and subtly hits back his attacker: "I draw from this the somewhat surprising conclusion that we know our friends by their defects and not by their merits" (ix).  

This time Heinemann invested in a pretty dust jacket. First edition with dust jacket is selling from US$150 onwards. There is a second impression in the same year, and it is recommended to read the descriptions from booksellers carefully. First edition without dust jacket can be had with a much cheaper price. Other editions can be found here: Search Amazon.com for maugham first person singular

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