The Summing Up, XLI

Chapter forty-one. Or, as I now think of it, The Secret Origin of W. Somerset Maugham: Novelist. Maugham talks about the audience and how the audience works and how his plays worked with audiences. His most striking moment is when he went to another popular play, not his own, and was mortified by what his audience enjoyed. It’s peak artistic snob, but it’s also peak Maugham and he knows it. He derides himself at the start of the chapter only to emerge a valiant, noble hero by the end. He escaped the fate of dated dramatist. It’s actually kind of exciting, though I imagine if you were reading it in 1938 and really liked Maugham’s plays, he just spit in your eye. I wonder what he’s going to say about Moon and Sixpence and Razor’s Edge because I’d fight him on those two.

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