The Summing Up, LXII

A better title for this book would be: The Summing Up, or: The World Needs Ditch-Diggers Too. And Maugham is definitely not a ditch-digger. He understands the ditch-diggers are important and he appreciates them and thinks they’re beautiful in their ditch-digging lives, but it wouldn’t be proper for him to thank the ditch-diggers for all their work because it wouldn’t be dignified to call them ditch-diggers, now would it? Besides, imagine what it would do to the class system. It’s kind of an awesome cop out, but it’s also a big one. It’s not Maugham’s fault he’s so well-off, after all. It just happened that way. He’s worried too. About the world. About the war. About the end of the life as he knows it. If he were a supporting character in a Maugham novel, he’d be terrified of his own mortality and trying to get down some kind of memoir because he desperately wants to be remembered. And if it were a Maugham novel, Maugham—or the Maugham stand-in—would eventually tell this supporting character exactly what he was doing, exactly why he was doing it, and exactly what is wrong with it. Or the Maugham stand-in—or just Maugham—would talk about this supporting character behind his back to the protagonist. He’s indiscreet. Maugham, writer of The Summing Up, not the Maugham of this imaginary novel, is indiscreet. Unintentionally. While he writes about intention in writing.

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