The Narrow Corner, vii

It’s the longest section in the novel so far, with Maugham reuniting Dr. Saunders with the two mysterious sailors—Captain Nichols and Fred Blake. Given how much Maugham alternates between Fred and Blake, one has to assume the name will mean something at some point. There’s a lot of talking—so much so it progresses the plot—and a fair amount of Dr. Saunders inspecting his guests. There’s also the detail Saunders has a house-boy, who didn’t show up before when Saunders was trying to sleep. Maugham’s already established Saunders as having an intense curiosity about the world so he does a description paragraph on Nichols and ends revealing its all Saunders’s impression. It’s kind of silly, but not as awkward as when Maugham inserts Saunders and an observation between a couple lines of dialogue from Nichols. Saunders isn’t likable yet, Maugham isn’t trying to make Blake likable at all, and Nichols is getting something of a pass. It’s a slow novel. Now, when he isn’t concentrating on the island setting in exposition, more of it comes through, just because of how the characters are talking about their experience on it.

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