The Narrow Corner, ix

More happens in this chapter than anywhere else in the novel so far. Dr. Saunders doesn’t just prepare to get on the ship for his voyage, he bids farewell to his host, he has to get to the ship himself, he has small talk with Blake and the captain, he has a long conversation with the captain. It’s probably where the novel should’ve started, except Maugham pragmatically established his protagonist. And got a lot of pages out of it. It’s a solid chapter, with the action moving briskly and the final conversation—the captain and the doctor sussing each other out while Blake, the kid, can’t keep up—is quite good. Though Maugham’s use of contractions to convey the captain’s accent is annoying. The Narrow Corner is very much of its time and very much focused on itself as a narrative. Maugham’s choices are for his popular audience.

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