The Summing Up, LIV

Maugham, again on spy duty, heads off to Russia. The mission doesn’t go well and Maugham’s sick with tuberculosis anyway; he ends up in a sanitarium for a two year recovery. There are multiple interesting aspects to this stay. It’s a short chapter, but Maugham gets across the importance of getting to know his fellow patients. They’re as varied, it turns out, as the people he met in Indonesia. But he also writes about the solitude he experiences—and rejoices in—much like a section in Of Human Bondage when he talks about the protagonist discovering the solitude reading can offer. There aren’t many details to the spying—or the sanitarium really—but it’s got a fine pace and Maugham seems sincere enough.

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