The Painted Veil, Chapter Two

It’s another short chapter. Maugham’s use of chapters is sometimes interesting, definitely so here. He’s guiding the reader, manipulating their perspective; this chapter’s a brief conversation establishing Kitty doesn’t care much what her husband thinks about her or of her behavior, which comes as a bit of a surprise to her lover. Maybe. Maugham’s real focused on the dialogue. It’s a couple years before Hills Like White Elephants, but somewhat familiar just in terms of how much the dialogue is supposed to hold. I’ve always held Maugham was more aware of Hemingway than conventional wisdom–and Maugham’s talking about his writing in The Summing Up–suggests. There’s just something about how he, Maugham, weighs his dialogue in works from the twenties. Painted Veil is 1925. It’s not an organic development and it’s not like when Maugham falls back on his playwright experience.

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