The Summing Up, XXVI

This chapter has some wonderful Maugham quotes and not just because he’s talking about how criticism can be more entertaining to read when a person isn’t currently interested in “reading to the profit of one’s soul.” He also talks about how criticism can affect one’s personal reading of a text—trying to understand why the critic is correct and reader is not. “It was long,” Maugham writes, “before I realized that the only thing that mattered to me in a work of art was what I thought about it.” So everyone can just shush. Jaws 3 is ★★½. He goes on to talk—while I read it, I was in abject horror—about how, as a professional writer, he cannot waste his time with reading anything not informative to his work. His examples are mostly of informational, non-fiction texts, but still… it’s hard to imagine him trying anything new, which is a shame. No Joyce appreciation chapter coming up. On the other hand, I do appreciate his sensibility of reading selfishly. We only have so much time and should fill it as best we can.

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