The Summing Up, XIII

Maugham stays on track for this chapter, wherein he talks about euphony and his preference for a “phrase that is easy and unaffected to a phrase that is grammatical.” He talks about the English language and how it’s grammatically unwieldy, at least for sounding good. Not a problem the French have with their writing. I’m sure I’ve known for years Maugham was born in France, but I never really thought about it as being so influential on his style. I also didn’t think about what he would read to learn to write. This chapter is preaching to the choir for me. Statements like, “a good style should no sign of effort” and “what is written should seem a happy accident,” get no rise out of me. They imply when reading the piece should manifest itself to the reader line by line, word by word, regardless of having been written, edited, printed, dusty from sitting too long on a shelf. I can’t imagine who would get upset or riled by Maugham’s statements; a fuddy-duddy perhaps. Or maybe a lot of people in 1936. I still haven’t gotten a sense of who Maugham thinks is going to be reading The Summing Up.

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