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William Somerset Maugham Case

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WINTER CREDIT ESSAY

So far you've analyzed several works by W.S. Maugham and you've probably gained a certain impres¬sion of his works. Read the given piece of criticism on Maugham. Express your agreement or disagreement as to the author's manner of writing. Spring from your own understanding but be argumentative. Provide examples from the stories or novels you have read.

William Somerset Maugham is considered to be one of the best known English writers of the 20th century. He was a great novelist, a successful dramatist and a popular short-story writer. His short stories are characterized by the brilliance of style, a pointed ridicule of many social vices and ironical cynicism. They are amusing and exciting as well as thought-provoking.

Maugham wants the readers to draw their own conclusion about the characters and events described in his novels. His reputation as a novelist is based on the following prominent books: "Of Human Bondage", "The Moon and Sixpence" and "The Razor's Edge".

Though Maugham doesn't denounce (blame) the contemporary social order, he is criti¬cal of the morals and the narrow-mindedness. Realistic portrayal of life, keen character observation and interesting plots coupled with beautiful, expressive language, a simple, clear, plain style place Somerset Maugham on a level with the greatest English writers of the 20th century. In general, Maugham's novels and short stories could be characterized by great narrative facility, an ironic point of view, cosmopolitan settings, and an asto¬nishing understanding of human nature.

Arguably the most prolific and enduring literary novelist and playwright of the 20th century, W. Somerset Maugham has received surprisingly little attention in the academic world. Maugham's writing career coincided with the height of modernism - a literary movement that held little interest in the straightforward realism that defined his work.

Somerset Maugham came along at a time when the ideals of high modernism were rul¬ing among the writers as well as in the academic world. His theories on literature lay in direct contrast to the modernists', who believed that literature should always be striving for something new and different, and that the realist style of the 19th century was insuf¬ficient if one were to discover the underlying truths of life through writing. Maugham, on the other hand, believed that, first and foremost, the point of literature was to tell a good story (although he must have known that he was oversimplifying his own ideals when he said this). Although the modernists disliked Maugham, "no critic could explain why, with all his faults and imperfections, Maugham had been able to maintain a vast and faithful public for more than forty years." Critics could condemn Maugham, but they could not limit his popularity.

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