The Narrow Corner, v

Maugham goes peak Maugham this chapter. At least in the confines of a very popularly constructed novel. But I’ll get to that bit in a moment. First, the section itself is strange. It opens with the protagonist, the Dr. Saunders, and Maugham plays him as a very comical character. Almost a goof. He’s an aware, but sort of harmless goof in paradise. It’s cute. Then there’s this description of the town he’s in and Maugham opens it beautifully. “He walked down the broad street, it was less than half a mile long, till he came to the sea. There was no quay.” What’s a quay? Why am I supposed to think about one not being there? Maugham then goes positive with the description, wrapping it up with an invitation to the reader to come into the author’s confidence, something Maugham uses again in moment. There’s a lengthy description of Dr. Saunders as a fellow who doesn’t like to read. On and on, Maugham goes. What does Saunders do? Read a book. And think about the antagonist or potential antagonist. Very, very, very boring stuff. Only then Maugham gets to that peak Maugham moment. Paragraph after paragraph revealing Saunders as this amiably-minded sociopath. But it sounds more like a description of a reader of novel than of a protagonist in a novel. His patients are “… like another page in an interminable book,” he’s “amused” to see the outcome of their sicknesses. It’s a little sensational. Maugham’s white savior is a harmless shit. It’s awesome.

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