The Summing Up, XX

Maugham’s on the same theme—what he learned as a doctor—but he quickly moves over to talking about the problem with fiction up until the 20th century. Writers were unable to accept the “discrepancies of human nature.” I can’t figure out the chapters in The Summing Up. This one, for instance, definitely should have been lumped in with some of the previous ones. It’s still using the autobiographical frame to talk about other things, to get to the literary discussion. I also wish he took the literary discussion more seriously. He references a novel from 1830, with no mention of that year (meaning he assumed his reader was onboard with all this information); it’s a hundred years old when he’s writing Summing Up. He’s talking about big changes in literature and he seems to acknowledge it, but not take it seriously. This chapter’s focus—taking people as they are—doesn’t just tie into the previous couple chapters, but also the earlier ones where he talks about his goals for the book. Rather, his indifference to the reader’s opinion of his goals for the book. It’s actually slightly redundant. Still good, but his conclusions are obvious. He’s loitering on this subject.

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