The Summing Up, XXV

Early in Of Human Bondage, when Philip Carey is still in his teens, he observes he could get lost in books and avoid human contact. Maugham talks quite a bit about the former in this chapter and seemingly rejects the latter—he ends the chapter talking about how his desire to be a rounded person meant having to get out into the world to some degree and having his own adventures. When talking about what he’s read—and how much reading means to and has meant to him—Maugham acknowledges he doesn’t reread or particularly reflect. He goes on to the next book. I suppose I did something similar in MFA school; there were weeks I’d read two books a day plus class reading, plus writing. I was reading to see what writing could do and sometimes should do; I wasn’t getting a masters in lit, after all. I’m hoping Maugham talks a bit about his development as a reader. When he says he didn’t reflect, he’s talking about when he was in medical school. He assembled lots of bits of information, which proved important as a novelist, and as he finishes the chapter, he seems to be far more aware of how he consumes writing.

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