The Summing Up, LVIII

This chapter raises the possibility no one—certainly no one Maugham gave credence—edited The Summing Up for anything other than typos. This chapter, a mercifully short one, has Maugham attacking his critics. Earlier in the book, he rather defensively but even more eloquently argued against listening to critics. This chapter opens with him talking about two critics—who he won’t name—who don’t like his work. He doesn’t care. They’re more interested in the young whippersnappers who are doing new—but new and stupid—things with the novel. No one’s going to read these novels in a few years anyway, so what does it matter. Actually, “civilization is crumbling,” so it will matter even less. When Maugham implies self-awareness regarding his defensiveness, he excels. When he’s just defensive for a page and a half, he’s tiring.

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