Thursday, 19 May 2016

W. Somerset Maugham in The Dead Ladies Project

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The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin
The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin

Crispin, Jessa. "St. Petersburg/W. Somerset Maugham." The Dead Ladies Project. Exiles, Expats & Ex-Countries. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

I finally got around to read this book, since it was just there in the library. If ever libraries have another of their existential crises, to provide books that you don't want to buy isn't such a bad reason for being. Otherwise, imagine the books one may never have read.

This review is only about the chapter on W. Somerset Maugham. I didn't expect it to shed light on Maugham. The most important thing is to have the right state of mind before reading it.

It doesn't tell you much about Maugham that you don't see in Wikipedia, nor does it say anything about St. Petersburg for that matter. But if you want to know about Jessa Crispin, you pick the right book.

I doubt if she needed to trot the globe to write the book; I bet she could have produced much the same thing lying in any bed, with the right mixture of booze and healthy junk food. The most hilarious is that she chose to watch The Bachelor (a reality show using Maugham's villa as setting, she told the reader) in her St. Petersburg (Russia) hotel room from an illegal download.

I can't be certain, definitely the name is the same as Maugham's villa, but the hotel is in Boulouris, not in St. Jean Cap Ferrat. And this is the first time I read that Maugham's villa has become a hotel, but that doesn't tell you much.

The title of the book intrigues me though. It would be unfair to make any assumption, since I only read one chapter, but where are the dead ladies? And how is their very state of being dead significant?

The other dead ladies, & gentlemen, are: William James, Nora Barnacle, Rebecca West, Margaret Anderson, Maud Gonne, Igor Stravinsky, Jean Rhys, Claude Cahun.

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The Dead Ladies Project at AbeBooks

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