A TRAVELLER IN ROMANCE: Uncollected Writings 1901-1964 by W. Somerset Maugham

A TRAVELLER IN ROMANCE: Uncollected Writings 1901-1964

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Playlets, prefaces, speeches, mini-essays, mini-memoirs, book reviews, and a few pieces of fiction--66 items in ali, but hardly any that stand up on their own or shed new light on the much-chronicled Mr. Maugham. There are small tributes to such friends and colleagues as painter Gerald Kelly, actress Gladys Cooper, and quasi-rival Noel Coward. (This stylish but not-very-perceptive preface to a 1929 Coward-play collection misunderstands Coward's talent--and unprophetically notes that ""naturalistic dialogue has been carried as far as it can go."") There are slightly more substantial appreciations of Madame de S‚vign‚ and Dorothy Parker--preferring Parker's poetry to her uneven stories: ""A carping critic of these [lesser] stories might suggest that their author on occasion shows an inclination to imitate Dorothy Parker."" In the autobiographical vein, there's the mildly diverting ""On Having my Portrait Painted"" (by Graham Sutherland and others), ""Paintings I Have Liked,"" a paean to the joys of bridge--plus several statements of Maugham's unpretentious faith in simple, clear writing and genuine storytelling. (""The proper aim of the novelist. . . is to create characters and devise a story which will enable him to display them. If you like to call him a mere story teller of course you are at liberty to do so. Hard words break no bones. What to my mind it shows is merely that you don't like novels."") But, along with four small stories, the most engaging material here is a section of ""Wartime Articles in America,"" largely from Redbook magazine: patriotic pep-talks, inspirational anecdotes, and curious attempts to defuse American Anglophobia (""Why D'You Dislike Us?"") and promote US/UK friendships. Very minor matters, then, with little substance for specialists and even less for the general reader.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1985
Publisher: Potter--dist. by Crown