W. Somerset Maugham was one of the seminal writers of the twentieth century, and his travel writing has long been considered among his finest work. Now, acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer maps out a masterful tour of these vivid, evocative pieces that are collected here for the first time.
Maugham worked as a secret agent in Russia, published novels in London, staged plays in New York, and traveled throughout Europe, Asia, India, and the United States, chronicling his travels, wherever he went, with exceptional insight. Beginning with "In the Land of the Blessed Virgin" and culminating in "A Partial View," Iyer selects vignettes of Maugham's razor-sharp prose that track his transformation from a boyish traveler in Spain to a worldly man of letters.
This is Maugham at his most keenly observant, direct, and powerful.
From the Hardcover edition.
On his way home from a remote Pacific island, Dr Saunders travels with two strangers: the treacherous Captain Nichols, and Fred, a handsome Australian with a shadowy past. Driven to shelter from a storm on the island of Banda, the trio meet good-natured Erik Christessen and his fiancee, the cool and beautiful Louise. A tense, exotic tale of love, jealousy, murder and suicide, which evolved from a passage in Maugham's earlier masterpiece, The Moon and Sixpence.
From 1892, when he was eighteen, until 1949, when this book was first published, Somerset Maugham kept a notebook. It is without doubt one of his most important works. Part autobiographical, part confessional, packed with observations, confidences, experiments and jottings it is a rich and exhilarating admission into this great writer's workshop
Cakes and Ale is a delicious satire of London literary society between the Wars. Social climber Alroy Kear is flattered when he is selected by Edward Driffield's wife to pen the official biography of her lionized novelist husband, and determined to write a bestseller. But then Kear discovers the great novelist's voluptuous muse (and unlikely first wife), Rosie. The lively, loving heroine once gave Driffield enough material to last a lifetime, but now her memory casts an embarrissing shadow over his career and respectable image. Wise, witty, deeply satisfying, Cakes and Ale is Maugham at his best.