The Summing Up, XLII

Maugham finally–after foreshadowing it for a lot of chapters–talks about the end of the his career as a dramatist. He opens talking about how, after deciding to quit, he had four more plays he wanted to write. He had other ideas for plays–he calls them themes, which seems a little much but a lot about Maugham is a little much–but he didn’t feel the need to get those ones produced. He actually goes so far to say he thinks an examination of one of the plays will be “interesting enough to merit” a few minutes of the reader’s time. It’s not. I mean, it’s fine–but it’s not worthy of that declaration. It’s the least of all the dramatist chapters, maybe because it’s the last one, maybe because Maugham’s reasons for getting out of it are problematic (on a timeline). He quit writing plays in 1933, five years before the book came out, but he’d been writing novels–good ones–for fifteen years. Oh, right, his reason for quitting writing plays–he realized plays weren’t the best format for perfect art and he’d get closer with short stories or novels, which he’d been writing for fifteen years. It’s a messy finish but nice he’s finally getting to prose so maybe I gave him more of a pass than deserved.

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