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The Razor S Edge Is A True Masterpiece That Is Among The Finest Novels Ever Written About The Search For Awakening And The Meaning Of Life With A Loving Girlfriend And The Promise Of A Good Career, Larry Darrell Seems To Have Everything He Could Want Yet His Life Is Missing One Vital Ingredient, For He Has No Sense Of Purpose During His Service On The Front In WWI, He Saw Good Friends Die Now He Does Not Understand Why The World Can Be So Violent And Cruel Leaving It Behind, He Travels Throughout Europe And Asia To Search For Something Meaningful His Journey Takes Him To The Tibetan Mountains, Where He Undergoes A Spiritual Enlightenment When He Returns Home, He Is An Enigma To His Friends But Seems Perfectly Content With HimselfNarrated By Frank Muller Cds Hours I didn t love it as much as I expected The premise that Eastern philosophy has something to offer us in the West just isn t as novel as when this book was originally published Maugham s description of upper crust society in Paris is bitchy and wonderfully astute at times But, like most authors, he found it easier to describe the sinners than the saints Larry Darrell, the saint of this book, just doesn t seem human or interesting He and his quest for enlightenment and or belief in God are one big yawnfest All Maugham can do is describe Larry s scintillating eyes and his smile over and over and over again and by the end of the book, even Maugham is apologizing for that Also, Maugham allows himself to be the first person narrator and, as such, does than his fair share of self aggrandizing in the book He befriends prostitutes down on their luck, flies to the deathbed of people he s mildly acquainted with and even pays the funeral expenses of heroin addicted nymphomaniacs What a prince The female cast of characters can pretty much be summed up as a gay man s view of women Maugham was bisexual, I think, but leaned towards men Not terribly flattering or fleshed out to say the least.Women reading this book should glean three lessons from it 1 It s not much fun to date a saint unless you get a kick out of living like a hobo and discussing 16th century mystics late into the night 2 Don t stay engaged to a man who won t tell you where he lives And finally 3 Never, ever tell your love problems to a novelist because nothing good will come of it In all big cities there are self contained groups that exist without intercommunication, small worlds within a greater world that lead their lives, their members dependent upon one another for companionship, as though they inhabited islands separated from each other by an unnavigable strait Of no city, in my experience, is this true than of Paris. 4 stars I liked this book a lot Much than Maugham s Of Human Bondage, but not quite as much as The Painted Veil The first person minor perspective works really well here Maugham inserts himself into the story, but mostly exists as an observer and messenger, retelling the tales passed to him by Elliott, Larry, Isabel and others I think this is one of the most interesting narrative structures we are still a part of the story, not looking down on it, but we are also an outsider peering in It seems to be exactly the right amount of proximity and distance to suit me.I also like Maugham best when he is fondly mocking human nature Elliott has to be the most lovable snob I ve ever had the pleasure of encountering It is he that introduces the narrator to young couple, Larry and Isabel, and he isn t shy about his views on their impending marriage In France, the only civilized country, Elliott says, Isabel would have the sense to marry Gray instead and take Larry as a lover Who could deny that Elliott, that arch snob, was also the kindest, most considerate and generous of menThe story is about the journey of all these characters as they each pursue their own personal goals Elliott s goal being social eminence, Isabel s wealth and comfort, and Larry s perhaps most interesting of all enlightenment and self understanding Larry is a fascinating character a First World War veteran who comes back changed, but instead of responding to his brush with death by breaking down, he becomes curious about the world and people He begins to care little for money and possessions, much to the chagrin of the affluent Americans around him His need for understanding takes him across the world, finally landing him in India Non Western philosophy features a lot in Maugham s work, and here Brahmanism offers Larry a new perspective.Maugham s narration is chock full of witty remarks that are genuinely very funny and have withstood the test of time As usual, art and literature feature heavily, as do snobbery, social interactions and character drama It s almost soapy, except it s a little too sophisticated for that But only a littleAnd you call yourself an English gentlemen, she exclaimed, savagely No, that s a thing I ve never done in all my lifeI think I like Maugham so much because he s not particularly moralistic, and any character presenting themselves as holier than thou often gets a dressing down His characters are alcoholics and prostitutes they behave jealously and question religion This is another reason I like Larry For all his pursuit of understanding and rejection of material things, he remains non judgmental of other characters I ll be back for of Maugham I ve heard The Moon and Sixpence is another good one.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube The best novel I ve read since joining Goodreads might be The Razor s Edge, the 20th century bestseller by prolific British playwright and author W Somerset Maugham Published in the U.S in 1944 a bit of my euphoria has to do with the book much of my intoxication has to do with the time in my life which I read this particular book In 2016, I came into a creative stride, writing first drafts of a short story and a novella and completing the groundwork for the final draft of a novel I started smoking a pipe I m learning to play chess I started a new job which will finance A, B and C pipe smoking and chess playing being modest luxuries but my new salary being modest as well I m reading close to fifty novels a year and feel as if I ve developed a palate for vivid storytelling, well developed characters and disarming dialogue Amid a lot of desire and confusion, The Razor s Edge put a customs stamp on these passages in my life It s the story of six characters not including Maugham, who includes himself as a seventh character and our reliable narrator who progress from acquaintances to friends to intimates in all the aspects that matter in the end Like compelling characters in all great dramas, or all chess pieces, each has a measurable affect on the other while at their core, remain true to their disparate natures to the end.The story begins in Chicago immediately following the First World War in 1919 and concludes in Paris immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 The worlds that Maugham explores are not geopolitical so much as they are spiritual His six unforgettable characters might as well be on an island together Stopping in Chicago on his way to the Far East, Maugham crosses paths with Elliott Templeton, an acquaintance of fifteen years, an American living abroad whose expertise as a broker in fine art has allowed him to ingratiate himself in English and French high society, where the elegant bachelor lives and breathes for event planning and cultivating social relationships They were afraid he was a snob And of course he was He was a colossal snob He was a snob without shame He would put up with any affront, he would ignore any rebuff, he would swallow any rudeness to get asked to a party he wanted to go to or make a connection with some crusty old dowager of great name He was indefatigable When he had fixed his eye on his prey he hunted it with the persistence of a botanist who will expose himself to dangers of flood, earthquake, fever, and hostile natives to find an orchid of peculiar rarity.Elliott is in Chicago visiting his sister when he invites Maugham to a luncheon at her home on Lake Shore Drive There, the Englishman meets Elliott s niece Isabel Bradley, a tall, radiant twenty year old of natural elegance who makes quite an impression on Maugham He also meets Isabel s boyfriend, Laurence Darrell, a pleasant looking but shy boy who goes by Larry and impresses the narrator with how effortlessly he seems to take part in conversations without ever uttering a word It is later revealed that Larry was an aviator in the war and has recently returned from Europe To the mounting insecurity of Isabel s mother and uncle, the boy has turned down offers for work.Accepting a dinner invitation from Elliott at his sister s the following evening, Maugham is seated next to a drab seventeen year old girl whose shyness belies shrewdness and intelligence the playwright gets her to open up by asking her who everyone else at the table is and much later in the book, will come to know this doomed girl as Sophie Macdonald She introduces Maugham to Gray Maturin, son of a millionaire investment banker in Chicago who is as virile and strong as Larry is puny and unassuming The worst kept secret in the room is that Gray is enad with Isabel, but won t dare make an advance or stand a chance as long as Larry is in the picture Uncle Elliott is of the opinion that Larry won t amount to much and that his niece would be advantaged marrying a man of position and fortune He tells his sister that if the young people had the civility of the French, Isabel would marry Gray and take Larry as her lover, while Gray offered himself as benefactor to a prominent actress and everyone could be happy Maugham holds a higher impression of Larry and finding him in a library reading Principles of Psychology, learns the veteran has rejected college as summarily as he has a career Larry challenges the Englishman s assertion that university would prepare him to make fewer mistakes by stating that making mistakes is how he might learn something I was butting into an affair that was no concern of mine, but I had a notion that just because I was a stranger from a foreign country Larry was not disinclined to talk to me about it Well, you know when people are no good at anything else they become writers, I said, with a chuckle I have no talent Then what do you want to do He gave me his radiant, fascinating smile Loaf, he said.I had to laugh.Isabel lures Larry on a picnic where she reads him the riot act She loves him but believes that a man must work, as a matter of self respect Larry tells Isabel that he loves her too, but that money just doesn t interest him Being a pilot gave him time to think, and watching his friend in the air corps sacrifice himself for Larry has led him to the choice of leaving America and searching for his own answers Larry visited Paris several times on leave and knowing no one there, finds the city as good a place as any to begin his sabbatical Giving himself a year or two at the most, he compels Isabel to wait for him The following year, Maugham is in Montparnasse when he spots Larry sitting by himself at a caf He s elusive with the Englishman, except to tell him that he s looking forward to spending time with Isabel when she visits with her mother next spring Reunited with his fianc e, Larry tells her that he s been reading, attending lectures and studying Greek He wants to know whether God is or is not Money still doesn t interest him, he s given no thought of returning to Chicago and when he asks Isabel to marry him and live with him in Paris, the couple mutually choose to end their engagement, remaining friends instead.Intersecting Elliott or Isabel or Larry over the years in his travels across France, through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression and the march toward world war, Maugham chronicles Elliott s strive for social imminence, Isabel s desire for fortune and community and Larry s pursuit of happiness, a journey which takes the loafer to a coal mine in France, a Benedictine monastery in Germany and an Ashrama in India Maugham introduces one unforgettable character Suzanne Rouvier, mutual friend of the narrator and of Larry who came to Montmartre from the countryside without a penny, but realized her facility as a model and artist s muse For by now she knew her value She liked the artistic life, it amused her to pose, and after the day s work was over she found it pleasant to go to the caf and sit with painters, their wives and mistresses, while they discussed art, reviled dealers, and told bawdy stories On this occasion, having seen the break coming, she had made her plans She picked out a young man who was unattached and who, she thought, had talent She chose her opportunity when he was alone at the caf , explained the circumstances, and without further preamble suggested they should live together I m twenty and a good housekeeper I ll save you money there and I ll save you the expense of a model Look at your shirt, it s a disgrace, and your studio is a mess You need a woman to look after you He knew she was a good sort He was amused at her proposal and she saw he was inclined to accept.I feel the same way about The Razor s Edge that millions feel about The Lord of the Rings Maugham s narration is as imaginative, incisive and delectable as Tolkien s, his dialogue as fanciful and his ability to create worlds within words as ingenious, but rather than transport the reader on a physical journey through an outer world, sets out across the landscape of the soul The trick of the novel is that rather than come off as preachy with counterfeit messages like Paulo Coelho s The Alchemist , the book is character driven, and the only philosophy in it is what the author observes from the characters and their decisions It s a real story.Casting himself as a relatively successful playwright and author who is neither owner or worker and whose gift is listening unobtrusively to either social class, Maugham s storytelling is boozy with passion and wit There were moments when his male gaze over Isabel raised my eyebrow, but overwhelmingly, the writing felt as contemporary or vital as any written in recent years Humor, tension and sensuality were equally strong throughout My travels have not been anywhere near as extension as the author s, but I have met people a little like each of his six major characters Their desires and limitations all felt palpable and after finishing the book, I m a lot less apt to judge them.Two of my favorite sub genres or topics are The Open Road and The Bum My favorite author John Steinbeck s work is strong with the allure of both of these and so is The Razor s Edge I like to think that most people fantasize about walking away from the daily grind to see the world, reading, learning another language or just staring at the clouds This has a greater hold on me than dragons or orcs and Maugham took me from the world of business and politics off the beaten path to the world of faith with a masterful facility that will be with me for a while In my mind, Larry, Isabel and Suzanne are still out there, somewhere, and so is this perfect book It is very difficult to know people and I don t think one can ever really know any but one s own countrymen For men and women are not only themselves they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can t come to know by hearsay, you can only know them if you have lived them.Maugham s work has lent itself well to film or television and The Razor s Edge has been adapted to screen twice In 1946, 20th Century Fox mounted a production starring Tyrone Power as Larry, Gene Tierney as Isabel, Clifton Webb as Elliott and winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress Anne Baxter as Sophie In 1984, Columbia Pictures produced a little seen remake starring Bill Murray as Larry, Catherine Hicks as Isabel, Denholm Elliott as Elliott and Theresa Russell as Sophie Murray who s always entertained an aloof professional manner went on a loafing like hiatus as a film leading man for four years following the release of the picture. 570 The Razor s Edge William Somerset MaughamThe Razor s Edge is a novel by W Somerset Maugham The book was first published in 1944 It tells the story of Larry Darrell, an American pilot traumatized by his experiences in World War I, who sets off in search of some transcendent meaning in his life The story begins through the eyes of Larry s friends and acquaintances as they witness his personality change after the War His rejection of conventional life and search for meaningful experience allows him to thrive while the materialistic characters suffer reversals of fortune The book was twice adapted into film, first in 1946 starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, and Herbert Marshall as Maugham and Anne Baxter as Sophie, and then a 1984 adaptation starring Bill Murray 1970 1341 142 20 1944.