Friday, 7 March 2014

W. Somerset Maugham, Eighteenth-Century Writer?


Maugham, 18c Writer?
Maugham, 18c Writer?

This will be my last post about misinformation. I may consider putting them all on one page. It would be interesting to see who long it will get.

W. Somerset Maugham, one of the great British writers of the late 18th century, wrote a fictionalized memoir called “The Razor’s Edge,” which in a somewhat roundabout way documents the life of Larry, a wealthy boy in search of meaning. At one point, Maugham the character is speaking with Larry’s soon-to-be jilted widow, and she is trying to recall a name that Larry had mentioned to her. In the novel, she wonders if this was a friend of Larry’s she had forgotten, but Maugham recognizes the name as an ascetic philosopher, and immediately understands the turns of Larry’s mind. He knows at that moment Larry will leave her.
Well, I wonder what Maugham would look like in 18th century costume.... Whether Larry is wealthy or not may be debatable. The "soon-to-be jilted widow" is most probably Isabel Bradley, who at that point isn't even married yet, and she is confused by Larry's mention of "Old Ruysbroek," which she mistakes as "Ruysdael." By the way, Isabel never becomes a widow in the novel.

I confess I haven't watched the movie, so it is possible that they have changed Isabel into a widow or put Isabel's words into someone else's mouth. But if it is the film version of the story that is being discussed, perhaps it would be important to say so.

2 comments :

  1. How do you find this stuff? :-)

    Really unbelievable what people write and publish online! Staff coumninst, indeed! And I thought the obituaries are ridiculously inaccurate. But this one - this one definitely beats Maugham's marrying "Sylvie Bernardo" or retiring from writing for the the stage in 1955.

    I've seen two movies on "The Razor's Edge" but don't remember much of either. My most vivid memories from the 1946 version are a terrific Herbert Marshall as Maugham and an absolutely perfect Clifton Webb as Elliott Templeton. From the version with Bill Murray I remember nothing at all - except that it had little to do with the novel.

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    1. I subscribe to Google news and whenever Maugham is mentioned I get a notification. His plays are still produced quite often, considering.

      I watched the beginning of the Tyrone Power version, but I always find it difficult to like a movie based on a book that I have read. Now you can download the whole movie on archive.org. So, one day when I have nothing to do I may finish it. As for Bill Murray, I simply can't see him as Larry. I feel like laughing when I look at the poster.

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