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The Moon and Sixpence: 01/07/23

The Moon and Sixpence

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham is a novel about a man's encounter with a reclusive artist. It's somewhat inspired by Paul Gaugin's life.

The man in question is banker turned artist, Charles Strickland. The narrator — and adoring fan — though spends so much time early on making the narrative about himself that I lost interest in the novel before it had even truly started.

Stylistically the novel is written in a manner similar to Virginia Woolf's Orlando (1928). I think their similarity is in part a function of when they were written and first published. They aren't that much different from how Watson acts as Holmes's biographer in all of the Arthur Conan Doyle novels and short stories.

What differs between these three is the method and content. Woolf's narrator is attempting to write an impossible biography of a life that spans centuries and has gaps in the flow of time. Watson's accounts of his adventures with Sherlock Holmes are not too removed from the modern day cozy, thus making them extremely entertaining, and by their very nature of being written for a weekly, short and quick reads.

W. Somerset Maugham's foray into this type of writing is very different. It's very dry and very self absorbed. The oh so subtle implication is that he, Maugham, is a fan of Gaugin. Rather than reveal just how stalkery his inclinations are, he has instead lovely written a novel that highlights the artist's rise to greatness. It's stoic and staid, and oh so very literary. It's also self absorbed and boring as fuck.

One star

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