The Summing Up, XXXVII

Maugham writes at length this chapter but covers a lot of the same ground as the previous chapter about the audience. He even rewords an anecdote from a couple pages before regarding the audience’s intelligence level. I thought I was rereading the previous chapter, not starting a new one. He’s arguing against the intellectual play—audiences don’t go for it, the intelligentsia doesn’t actually pay to see it after saying they will; he’s already laid the groundwork in the previous chapter, talking about the audience being (by his definition) part of the play itself. He also talks about how the world has changed because people see women as people now. He’s talked about women’s liberation a few times now, always portraying himself the champion of it, but he doesn’t offer any real details. It stands out as the one bewildering position he holds—if he thought women were liberated in 1938, was he just comparing it to Victorian England? I should probably read an actual Maugham biography one of these days, though maybe not. He’s prescient about the intelligentsia not wanting to pay. About halfway through the chapter, he writes, “the play is dead anyway.” He could have made that statement to end conversation, but instead he’s still rambling about it. He’s passionate and frustrated about this audience thing.

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