The Summing Up, XXI

Again, those autobiographical anecdotes Maugham promised not to do… they have arrived. And gloriously. He still doesn’t have any details, but he does a phenomenal job describing his pessimistic phase. It was when he was in medical school and had started learning of the other sciences. He was “as pleased as Punch at the thought of [his] remote descendants, having long forgotten art and science and handicraft, cowering skin-clad in caverns as they watched the approach of the cold and eternal night.” Winter is coming! Only awesomely. The chapter is very short and is one paragraph and it’s my favorite Maugham writing in The Summing Up so far. There’s some other future stuff in there to make you wish he’d written a pulpy sci-fi or two. The secret Maugham pulp serials. If only. There’s also his building that autobiographical narrative a little stronger. He’s letting it just be the chapter this time, no British history, no Biblical analysis to off-set it. Maybe he just knew it was a good piece of writing and to leave it alone.

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