The Summing Up, XXII

It’s a sad chapter. It starts as a downbeat one, with Maugham talking about the creativity of youth—“the exuberance of their years … no more significant than a child’s building of a castle on the sands.” He’s comparing his roommates during his medical school years to himself; they didn’t stick with their creative endeavors, he did. And some of the chapter does seem like he’s going to build himself up—“genius arises once or twice in a century,” will it be him? And, no, it isn’t. Instead, the last paragraph of the chapter is Maugham listing his failings as they hinder his ability to write. He hasn’t had “some of the fundamental emotions of normal men.” It’s a harsh sentiment and judgment and maybe a little too self-depreciating. Maugham’s got a very romantic view of creativity and, while it’s charming, I don’t agree with it.

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