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On a trip to research French artist Paul Gauguin, Maugham sailed into Tahiti's Papeet harbor, where he imagined an exotic tale of the ultimate outsider, one who rejects his entire way of life to pursue an obsession. The result of his efforts is a story of rebellion and escape from civilization which continues to attract and captivate readers to this day. Introduction by PeOn a trip to research French artist Paul Gauguin, Maugham sailed into Tahiti's Papeet harbor, where he imagined an exotic tale of the ultimate outsider, one who rejects his entire way of life to pursue an obsession. The result of his efforts is a story of rebellion and escape from civilization which continues to attract and captivate readers to this day. Introduction by Perry Meisel....

Title : The Moon and Sixpence
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The Moon and Sixpence Reviews

  • Rajat Ubhaykar
    2019-01-11 05:49

    Fair warning, this is going to be a long review for this is a book that is close to my heart written by an author whom I deeply admire.The Right TimeThere are some books that walk into your life at an opportune time. I'm talking about the books that send a pleasant shiver down your spine laden with “Man, this is meant to be!” as you flip through its pages cursorily. Or those that upon completion, demand an exclamation from every book-reading fibre of your body to the effect of “There couldn't have been a better time for me to have read this book!” Now, I come from deferred-gratification stock. So books like these, you don't read immediately,. You let them sit there on your table for a while. You bask in the warm expectant glow of a life-altering read. You glance at the book as you make your way to office, take pleasure in the fact that it'll be right there on your table when you open the front-door wearily, waiting to be opened, caressed, reveled in. And when that moment of reckoning arrives, you don't stop, you plunge yourself straight into the book, white-hot passionate. The Moon and Sixpence was just that kind of a book for me. I had just completed (and thoroughly enjoyed) a course on Modern Art in college and could rattle off the names of Impressionist painters faster than I could the Indian cricket team. I was particularly intrigued by Paul Gauguin, a French Post-Impressionist painter, after reading one of his disturbingly direct quotes. “Civilization is what makes me sick”, he proclaimed, and huddled off to Tahiti to escape Europe and “all that is artificial and conventional”, leaving behind a wife and five children to fend for themselves, never to make contact with them again. This struck me as the ultimate expression of individuality, a resounding slap to the judgmental face of conservative society, an escapist act of repugnant selfishness that could only be justified by immeasurable artistic talent, genius, some may call it. My imagination was tickled beyond measure and when I discovered there was a novel by W.Somerset Maugham (the author of The Razor's Edge no less!) based on Gauguin, my joy knew no bounds. I was in the correct frame of mind to read about the life of a stockbroker who gave up on the trivial pleasures of bourgeois life for the penury and hard life of an aspiring painter without considering him ridiculous or vain. Supplied with the appropriate proportions of awe that is due to a genius protagonist, I began reading the book. I have to admit I expected a whole lot from it. I had a voyeuristic curiosity to delve into the head of a certified genius. I was even more curious to see how Maugham had executed it. At the same time, I was hoping that the book would raise and answer important questions concerning the nature of art and about what drives an artist to madness and greatness.The BookThe book's title is taken from a review of Of Human Bondage in which the novel's protagonist, Philip Carey, is described as "so busy yearning for the moon that he never saw the sixpence at his feet."I admired Maugham's narrative voice. In his inimitable style, he flits in and out of the characters' life as the stolid, immovable writer who is a mere observer, and nothing more. His narrator defies Heisenberg's uncertainty principle as in observing his characters, he doesn't change their lives or nature one bit. He has a mild disdain for the ordinary life of a householder and relishes his independence.“I pictured their lives, troubled by no untoward adventure, honest, decent, and, by reason of these two upstanding, pleasant children, so obviously destined to carry on the normal traditions of their race and station, not without significance. They would grow old insensibly; they would see their son and daughter come to years of reason, marry in due course – the one a peretty girl, future mother of healthy children; the other a handsome, manly fellow, obviously a soldier; and at last, prosperous in their dignified retirement, beloved by their descendants, after a happy, not unuseful life, in the fullness of their age they would sink into the grave. That must be the story of innumerable couples, and the patter of life it offers has a homely grace. It reminds you of a placid rivulet, meandering smoothly through green pastures and shaded by pleasant trees, till at last it falls into the vasty sea; but the sea is so calm, so silent, so indifferent, that you are troubled suddenly by a vague uneasiness. Perhaps it is only a kink in my nature, strong in me even in those days, that I felt in such an existence, the share of the great majority, something amiss. I recognized its social value. I saw its ordered happiness, but a fever in my blood asked for a wilder course. There seemed to me something alarming in such easy delights. In my heart was a desire to live more dangerously. I was not unprepared for jagged rocks and treacherous shoals if I could only have change – change and the excitement of the unforeseen.”In Maugham's hands, Gauguin becomes Charles Strickland, an unassuming British stockbroker, with a secret unquenchable lust for beauty that he is willing to take to the end of the world, first to Paris and then to remote Tahiti. He is cold, selfish and uncompromising in this quest for beauty. “The passion that held Strickland was a passion to create beauty. It gave him no peace. It urged him hither and thither. He was eternally a pilgrim, haunted by a divine nostalgia, and the demon within him was ruthless. There are men whose desire for truth is so great that to attain it they will shatter the very foundation of their world. Of such was Strickland, only beauty with him took the place of truth. I could only feel for him a profound compassion.”However words such as these serve to romanticize Strickland's actions which at first glance, remain despicable. (view spoiler)[He leaves his wife as casually as one would leave to buy milk from the store, he betrays his only friend by eloping with his wife and then proceeds to drive her to suicide with his callousness. (hide spoiler)] Maugham paints him as a rogue loner, an unfathomable apparition, compelled to inhuman acts by the divine tyranny of art.“He lived more poorly than an artisan. He worked harder. He cared nothing for those things which with most people make life gracious and beautiful. He was indifferent to money. He cared nothing about fame. You cannot praise him because he resisted the temptation to make any of those compromises with the world which most of us yield to. He had no such temptation. It never entered his head that compromise was possible. He lived in Paris more lonely than an anchorite in the deserts of Thebes. He asked nothing from his fellows except that they should leave him alone. He was single-hearted in his aim, and to pursue it he was willing to sacrifice not only himself – many can do that – but others. He had a vision. Strickland was an odious man, but I still think he was a great one.”In these beautiful words he describes Strickland's strange homelessness and suggests a reason for his subsequent escape to Tahiti.“I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid strange surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scnes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.”By the end of the book, Maugham's narrator somewhat loses his grip over the reader and I could picture him in my mind floundering around the island of Tahiti, interviewing the people who came in contact with Strickland, trying to piece together a story. He finds himself in the “position of the biologist, who has to figure out from a bone, not only a creature's body, but also its habits.” The reader is promised the ineffable, a study of genius and is only delivered an admission of its elusive nature. Also the tone of the novel tends to get slightly misogynistic in places. But I suppose that is more a failing of the protagonist rather than the author. As compensation, Maugham offers delicious crisp cookies of wisdom throughout. In simple lyrical language, he penetrates to the core of the human condition and offers invaluable advice to the aspiring writer, the hopeful lover and the wannabe genius.For its unpretentious, sympathetic and humane portrayal of a deeply flawed protagonist, its quotable quotes and its ironic humour, this book shall rank as my one of my favourite books on the life and development of an artist in search of the unknowable.My Master MaughamI strongly believe that the adjectives one throws around are a barometer of one's sensitivity or at the minimum, one's desire to be accurate. Both of these qualities are indispensable to the aspiring writer because honestly, what is there to writing except fresh verbs, evocative adjectives, searing honesty and an unbounded imagination. Also, that it's easier said than done.In this context, there are moments when I feel utterly stupid and unimaginative. My inner monologues resemble the chatter of teenage girls in their lack of content and use of worn-out adjectives. I mean, awesome and amazing, like seriously? Bleeuurghh!! During such exasperating times, my inner world aches to devour a mouthful of good-looking words in the Queen's English. I head to my dusty book-closet and roughly displace its contents until I find a book either by one of the barons of British literature, a W.Somerset Maugham/PG Wodehouse or a laid-back satire along the lines of Yes Minister. The book usually serves its purpose admirably. It manages to extract me from my predicament by either making me split my sides laughing or by drowning me in a stream of sentences so beautifully constructed that I completely forget my insecurities and start shaking my head ponderously at the writer's virtuosity instead.Coming to the topic of the writer himself, W.Somerset Maugham is one of my favourite writers in the English language. Being an aspiring writer who's yet to find his voice myself, his novels never fail to stab me with a hopeful optimism. My premature belief, that I can write well, is reinforced when I read Maugham. He never intimidates me or bores me, commonplace sins many writers will have to go to confession for. While reading his prose, he possesses the singular ability of making the difficult art of writing seem pretty doable. This, I've realized with the passing of time, is due to one simple reason. It is because W.Somerset Maugham never shows off! Never! Never does he ramble pointlessly. Never does he merely graze the point instead of hitting it fair and square because he was too busy fooling around with the language. Never! He hits bulls eye with eloquence and a kind of frugal, flowing lyricism. There is always a single-minded purpose behind his writings. It is to spin a mighty good yarn by getting the point across without making his readers consult a dictionary. He even propounds profundity in a manner that typically makes me re-read the paragraph(and underline it) to admire the economy and ease with which the thought was expressed in words. I find the writing styles of Hemingway and Maugham similar in form, but while Hemingway's writing is austere to the point of being skeletal, Maugham clothes his words until they can be considered passably pretty.For his remarkable abilities, Maugham's opinions about his own writing were always modest. He believed he stood "in the very first row of the second-raters." Asked about his method of writing, he simplified it to a matter of keen observation and honest reproduction. ""Most people cannot see anything," he once said, "but I can see what is in front of my nose with extreme clearness; the greatest writers can see through a brick wall. My vision is not so penetrating."My favourite excerptsAdvice to aspiring writers“ I forget who it was that recommended men for their soul's good to do each day two things they disliked: it was a wise man, and it is a precept that I have followed scrupulously; for every day I have got up and I have gone to bed. But there is in my nature a strain of asceticism, and I have subjected my flesh each week to a more severe mortification. I have never failed to read the Literary Supplement of The Times. It is a salutary discipline to consider the vast number of books that are written, the fair hopes with which their authors see them published, and the fate which awaits them. What chance is there that any book will make its way among that multitude? And the successful books are but the successes of a season. Heaven knows what pains the author has been at, what bitter experiences he has endured and what heartache suffered, to give some chance reader a few hours relaxation or to while away the tedium of a journey. And if I may judge from the reviews, many of these book are well and carefully written; much thought has gone to their composition; to some even has been given the anxious labour of a lifetime. The moral I draw is that the writer should seek his reward in the pleasure of his work and in release from the burden of his thoughts; and indifferent to aught else, care nothing for praise or censure, failure or success.”“Until long habit has blunted the sensibility, there is something disconcerting to the writer in the instinct which causes him to take an interest in the singularities of human nature so absorbing that his moral sense is powerless against it. He recognizes in himself an artistic satisfaction in the contemplation of evil which a little startles him but sincerity forces him to confess that the disapproval he feels for certain actions is not nearly so strong as his curiosity in their reasons. The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.”On the ironic humour of life “Dirk Stroeve was one of those unlucky persons whose most sincere emotions are ridiculous.”On the nature of art “Why should you think that beauty, which is the most precious thing in the world, lies like a stone on the beach for the careless passer-by to pick up idly? Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.”

  • Rowena
    2019-01-15 04:30

    "Art is a manifestation of emotion, and emotion speaks a language that all may understand."- W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and SixpenceI'd only ever read one Maugham before this ("Of Human Bondage") but even with just that one read I could tell Maugham was a very special writer and destined to be one of my favourites. I picked up this thin book thinking it would be a quick, simple read, but I wasn't prepared for the depth and profundity in it. There is a lot going on in this little book, lots to think about.Reading the back of the book you'll know that the main character in this book, Charles Strickland, was modelled after Paul Gauguin. There's no way I would have guessed that for most of the book, until Strickland/Gauguin moved to Tahiti.Even without knowing much about Gauguin's life, this book was interesting as it took us on a tour of his life, done by a narrator who operates as an unofficial biographer, taking us through Strickland/Gauguin's life from England to Paris, and finally Tahiti.Strickland is an awful person and extremely misogynistic. It's been a while since I've read such an odious character in literature. I despised him: "He was a man without any conception of gratitude. He had no compassion. The emotions common to most of us simply did not exist in him, and it was as absurd to blame him for not feeling them as for blaming the tiger because he is fierce and cruel."It was surprising to witness how the passion in Strickland seemed to remain dormant for years but eventually caused him to act like a man possessed and completely re-evaluate his life as that passion needed an outlet:"That must be the story of innumerable couples, and the pattern of life it offers has a homely grace. It reminds you of a placid rivulet, meandering smoothly through green pastures and shaded by pleasant trees, till at last it falls into the vasty sea; but the sea is so calm, so silent, so indifferent, that you are troubled suddenly by a vague uneasiness. Perhaps it is only by a kink in my nature, strong in me even in those days, that I felt in such an existence, the share of the great majority, something amiss. I recognised its social values, I saw its ordered happiness, but a fever in my blood asked for a wilder course. There seemed to me something alarming in such easy delights. In my heart was a desire to live more dangerously. I was not unprepared for jagged rocks and treacherous shoals if I could only have change -- change and the excitement of the unforeseen."Gauguin comes up a lot in discussions on primitivism and orientalism, and reading up on his time in Tahiti really leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The discussion on place and how we might be searching for a place where we are free to be really spoke to me, but Gauguin being himself meant taking child brides in the tropics, and that reminded me of the fact that Europeans had/have free reign in some parts of the world all due to their perceived power. But still, the idea that we can be perceived differently in different areas, and therefore be more suited to one area than another, is interesting:"I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest."It's hard to summarize this book without bringing up the racist language. There were quite a few racial epithets which, I'm not sure spoke of Maugham's insensitivity to different races, or just that he was reflecting the language and sentiments of the time. Either way, they were shocking, and I could have done without them.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-01-12 06:49

    The Moon and Sixpence, W. Somerset Maughamتاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و چهارم دسامبر سال 1970 میلادی؛ خوانش عنوا: قلب زن؛ ماه فوریه سال 1991 میلادیعنوان: قلب زن؛ نویسنده: ویلیام سامرست موآم؛ مترجم: حسین بدلزاده؛ رشت، انتشارات روزنامه سایبان، 1336، در 220 ص؛ ماه و شش پشیز (پنی) را سامرست موام براساس زندگی پل گوگن نقاش نگاشته و با ترجمه زنده یاد پرویز داریوش به زیور نشر آراسته شدهدر کتاب قلب زن؛ پس از مقدمه ها از مترجم و نویسنده؛ فصل نخست کتاب با عنوان: «در محفل ادبی» چنین آغاز میشود: هنگامی که اولین داستان خود: «جنون عشق» را که خوشبختانه سر و صدای زیادی در محافل ادبی برانگیخت نوشتم؛ جوان بودم ... ؛ ا. شربیانی

  • Mary
    2019-01-18 03:25

    We want the world. We want it all. We want the moon. And still it's not enough.It's my long term goal to read everything Maguham wrote, a goal that I doubt will be very difficult to reach. He writes with such poignant observation and wit and in The Moon and Sixpence he captures the all encompassing, obsessive and brutal nature that perhaps it takes to be an artist.Told by an unnamed narrator, we are introduced to Charles Strickland, a beastly yet seemingly ordinary man who one day leaves his wife, his children, his job and his entire life to paint. The drive to create is all there is in him, and leaving a trail of destruction he goes to Paris (don't they all?) and then to Tahiti. He is displaced, disassociated and curiously unappealing. It is a wonderful and extreme portrait of the innate need some have to follow their calling, or better still, the lack of choice they have to do so.I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace,and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that send men far and wide in search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. (p.135)

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2018-12-30 05:29

    The Moon and Sixpence, W. Somerset Maugham The Moon and Sixpence is a novel by W. Somerset Maugham first published in 1919. It is told in episodic form by a first-person narrator, in a series of glimpses into the mind and soul of the central character Charles Strickland, a middle-aged English stockbroker, who abandons his wife and children abruptly to pursue his desire to become an artist. The story is in part based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin.عنوانها: ماه و شش پشیز (پنی)؛ ماه و شش پنی؛ قلب زن؛ نویسنده: سامرست موام؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و چهارم ماه دسامبر سال 1970 میلادی و در ماه فوریه سال 1991 میلادیعنوان: ماه و شش پشیز (پنی)؛ نویسنده: سامرست موام؛ مترجم: پرویز داریوش؛ تهران، انتشارات پیروز، 1333؛ در 263 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، امیرکبیر، 1344؛ در 263 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: اصفهان، زمان نو، 1362؛ در 334 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، اساطیر، 1370؛ در 355 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1376؛ چاپ سوم 1388؛ شابک: 9789645960108؛عنوان: ماه و شش پنی؛ نویسنده: سامرست موام؛ مترجم: الهه مرعشی؛ تهران، فرهنگ جاوی، 1393؛ در 284 ص؛ شابک: 9786006182216؛عنوان: قلب زن؛ نویسنده: ویلیام سامرست موآم؛ مترجم: حسین بدلزاده؛ رشت، انتشارات روزنامه سایبان، 1336، در 220 ص؛ ماه و شش پشیز (پنی) را سامرست موام براساس زندگی پل گوگن نقاش نگاشته و نخستین بار با ترجمه زنده یاد پرویز داریوش به زیور نشر آراسته شده بسیار خواندنی ست. ا. شربیانی

  • Mohammed
    2019-01-12 22:45

    تصور أنك استيقظت اليوم ورأسك تعتريه هذه الأفكار: أنا لا أريد هذه الحياة، لم أعد أطيق هذه الوظيفة، ولا هؤلاء البشر...إنني أكره هذه البلد.... تتقلب ذات اليمين وذات الشمال وهناك هاجس واحد يمسك بتﻻبيب همّتك: أن تستقيل من وظيفتك، تهجر عائلتك، وتبدأ حياة جديدة، في بلد غريبة مهما انتحب من يحبونك، ومهما كان الثمن الذي ستدفعه من فقر وجوع وتشرد.هذه الرواية مستوحاة من حياة الفنان بول جوجن -وإن كان باسم مختلف ومع الكثير من التصرف- الذي عاش حياة مثيرة للجدل، ولم يعرف العالم أعماله بشكل جيد إلا بعد أن قضى نحبه.هذا هو لقائي الثاني مع سومرست موم، والإنطباع هو ذاته. موم كاتب كﻻسيكي ممتع، يقدم شخصيات فريدة على فترة زمنية ممتدة، دون الإسراف في المساحة الورقية. مثل روايته الشهيرة: "عن عبودية الإنسان"، وجدت موم مولعاً بالتوغل في النفس البشرية بمبضع دوستويفكسي، لا يتوانى عن كشف ضعفها، وسوادها وكل ما يربض هناك في الجانب المظلم من القمر. ستلتقي بعينات نادرة- ولكنها واقعية- من البشر. فهناك من يهجر أولاده ليمارس هوايته الفنية في أقاصي الارض، هناك من يترك منصباً حكومياً عالياً ليعيش على هامش الحياة في أحد الموانئ الغريبة. هناك من يحب رغم الخيانة، هناك من يحقد على من مد له يد العون...الخ. أي ستجد من تراهم حولك كل يوم إذا تجردوا من قيود المبادئ والمجتمع وأصبح اللعب "على المكشوف".بالرغم من أن النص يروي جانباً من سيرة فنان ينتمي إلى مدرسة مابعد الإنطباعية -اتحداك إن كنت تعرف ماهية هذه المدرسة- إلا أن النص بعيد كل البعد عن الوصف الفني والغوص في فنيات وتقنيات الرسم. بل إن الرواي قد صرح بأنه لا يتمتع بخلفية كبيرة عن الفنون وكأنه يطمئن القارئ بأنه لن يصدّع رأسه بكل تلك التفاصيل المرهقة. يطيب لي أن أشيد بأسلوب الحكي الوراد على لسان رواة عدّة، ممن التقوا أو عايشوا الفنان بطل الرواية. كما وجدت الانتقال في الأماكن، من لندن إلى باريس ثم هاييتي، سلساً وممتعاً ويضيف إلى عنصر التشويق في الرواية.تستحق القراءة بواقع ثلاثة نجوم ونصف

  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell
    2018-12-18 01:32

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI'm working my way through an omnibus edition of Maugham's work, and man, he can write. I'm torn between the impulse to swim leisurely through his prose or just gleefully cannonball into it. Unlike some writers of this time, Maugham is not particularly flowery, but he has an interesting way of presenting ideas and constructing sentences that makes you want to read over them several times, just to appreciate their ideas and form.MOON AND SIXPENCE, which could just as easily be called "Portrait of the Artist as a Douche," is based loosely off the life of the artist, Paul Gauguin. I tried to pronounce his name several times, ineffectively, ranging from gewgaw, to Google, to gaijin. As it turns out, the way it's actually pronounced makes him sound like a creature from a Japanese monster movie (it rhymes with "Rodan"), which is only the first way this book surprised me.Strickland seems like he has the ideal of the moderately successful life: a wife, children, a good job with steady pay. But he is discontent, and one day, coldly decides to leave his wife and job and go to Paris, living in squalor. Why? So he can paint. The confusion of his family, neighbors, and the narrator himself is palpable. To paint? Not because of madness, or because of another woman - but just... for art? For art's sake, and not for fame?The narrator follows Strickland, as he wrecks yet another marriage, paints more art, and eventually goes to Tahiti, where he finds the climate agreeable and even obtains one of the locals as a "wife." The whole time he is cruel and scornful, dismissive of others' feelings, wants, or desires, and even his own comfort. Everything must be sacrificed for art. Ultimately, I'd say this is a tragedy, because that vision ends up consuming Strickland; he pours his entire being into his art, and like many artists, it isn't until he's dead that his work becomes first a curiosity and then something far more powerful.A lot of my friends did not enjoy this book and I can certainly see why. Strickland is a jerk, and so is the narrator. There's a casually dismissive attitude towards the things that people generally consider worthy in a human being: compassion, empathy, loyalty, family, kindness, charity, etc. Art here is portrayed as something wholly selfish, and the message here seems to be that it is somehow okay; that an artist is allowed to be an egotist, because self-absorption is necessary for introspection. I don't like that message, so I can see why some people might write off MOON AND SIXPENCE as too dark and grim and irritating. However, I found myself fascinated by these terrible characters.I enjoyed this book a lot. I've read Maugham before and really liked his work, so this isn't really surprising. His other book was more of a comedy of manners, though; it was nothing like this. I'm really looking forward to working my way through his repertoire and seeing how his stories vary, while enjoying his beautiful writing and compelling, yet flawed characters.4 stars

  • Matthew
    2019-01-06 06:41

    my affection for this book may, in part, stem from the fact that it was one of those novels that i read at a period in my life when my tastes in both literature and life outlook were taking shape (that is, while playing hooky from high school) but its appeal has endured far more than the other usual suspects in that category (kerouac's meanderings, pirsig's pretentions, etc.) apart from its romantic appeal to the Quiet and Solitary Youth demographic (of which i was a card-carrying member) i think that's due to the simple fact that in a quiet, british sort of way, this is a nearly perfect piece of writing. and it's also, out of everything i've read, the novel that i would most liked to have written myself.

  • Tatiana
    2019-01-16 05:46

    This novel is by far my favorite account of an artist's life in fiction.The story of Charles Strickland is based on Paul Gauguin's life. To what extent, I don't know. What I do know is that there is something infinitely irresistible about how artistry is portrayed in this novel. I love the idea that a real artist creates art because he cannot not to. That all other aspects of his life - family, money, acclaim, food even - are secondary to his desire to create. Strickland is remarkable in his drive to paint - he abandons his comfortable life, wife and children, career as a stockbroker - to do something that he feels he can't live without. What I also love about Moon And Sixpence is how Maugham portrays relationships between men and women. He really makes a case that women are very much into men who treat them badly. He does so with humor, even though a bitter and puzzled humor. This is one of my favorite bits of the novel, where Strickland "proposes" to his Tahitian wife and an observer chimes in afterward:"Well, Ata, he said, "do you fancy me for a husband."She did not say anything, but just giggled."I shall beat you," he said, looking at her."How else should I know you loved me," she answered.Tiare broke off her narrative and addressed herself to me reflectively."My first husband, Captain Johnson, used to thrash me regularly. He was a man. He was handsome, six foot three, and when he was drunk there was no holding him. I would be black and blue all over for days at a time. Oh, I cried when he died. I thought I should never get over it. But it wasn't till I married George Rainey that I knew what I'd lost. You can never tell what a man is like till you live with him. I've never been so deceived in a man as I was in George Rainey. He was a fine, upstanding fellow too. He was nearly as tall as Captain Johnson, and he looked strong enough. But it was all on the surface. He never drank. He never raised his hand to me. He might have been a missionary. I made love with the officers of every ship that touched the island, and George Rainey never saw anything. At last I was disgusted with him, and I got a divorce. What was the good of a husband like that? It's a terrible thing the way some men treat women."I want to laugh at this quote and say that Maugham's views are outdated and plain wrong, but then I read another 5-star review of Hush, Hush, and think - Nah, things, unfortunately, have not changed that much.On a bright note, I do very much want to visit Strickland's Tahiti.

  • Sarah Booth
    2019-01-03 00:47

    I read this right after I read the Painted Veil. I guess I am on a Somerset Maugham kick. His characters are richly developed and yet hard to know. I imagine that he may find them and humanity that way, though he does his best in bringing you along on his journey of discovery. I am never quite sure what he thinks about women. Sometimes, such as in the Painted Veil, he finds them redeemable and then in other instances trifling and slow-witted. The Moon and Sixpence was the story based upon the painter Gaughan though referred to as Strickland and it was an examination of the mindset, passion, be it good or evil, and focus that is required in being an artist and how it can own ones soul through out. The artist was Machiavellian in his pursuit of what he knew not in his art, and in finding it, it both saved and damned him. Those who could put up with his personality were privy to a genius that was not swayed by the opinion of others but deeply committed to his art. He lived to paint and painted to live; nothing else held value.A great book. Some slow parts and i find Maugham's beginnings a bit over taxing, but like the other things I've read of him, they are thought provoking stories that slightly change your view of the world.

  • Sara
    2018-12-24 00:52

    It must be said up front that I am a huge fan of Maugham. I like his writing style, which always makes me feel as if I am sitting with a friend and he is telling me about someone he actually knows. With this conversational tone, Maugham leads you into the depths of the human soul and sometimes leaves you to find your own way out. Based very loosely on the life of Paul Gauguin, this novel is a study in how much a true artist will do for the sake of his art: not only how much he will endure, but how much he will inflict upon others. You cannot like Maugham's character, Strickland, nor, I think, can you truly understand him. Even our narrator never manages to understand the man, and he has been observing him for a lifetime. I can't help wondering how much Maugham felt that he was, himself, a man who had to follow his art at any cost. Of course, for Strickland and anyone who happens to come too close to him, the costs are extreme. One of the important questions Maugham raises in this novel is what makes up success and who gets to decide if you are successful. Is it truly about how much you acquire outwardly or how much you acquire inwardly? "I wondered if Abraham really had made a hash of life. Is to do what you want, to live under the conditions that please you, in peace with yourself, to make a hash of life; and is it success to be an eminent surgeon with ten thousand a year and a beautiful wife? I suppose it depends on what meaning you attach to life, the claim which you acknowledge to society, and the claim of the individual."I think Maugham thought that we too often attach the wrong meaning to life, that we strive too often for what others tell us should be our want instead of the things that our soul cries out for in the night. None of us wishes to be Strickland. Hell, we don't even want to know Strickland, but each of us is faced with his same choice--cut our own path or follow the dictates of society--and too often we make the wrong decision.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2018-12-27 02:29

    This was a perfect follow-up to Fabrizio Dori’s Gauguin, a graphic novel I reviewed earlier in the month. Maugham’s short novel functioned like a prequel for me because, whereas Dori focuses on the artist Paul Gauguin’s later life in the South Pacific, Maugham concentrates on his similar character Charles Strickland’s attempt to make a living as a painter in Paris.The Moon and Sixpence – the unusual title comes from the TLS reviewer’s description of the protagonist in Of Human Bondage as so absorbed in reaching for the moon that he doesn’t notice the sixpence at his feet – is narrated by an unnamed author drawn into Strickland’s orbit through his wife Amy Strickland’s attendance at London literary soirées. He hasn’t gotten to know the couple very well at all when he hears that Charles, a stockbroker, has abandoned his family and left for Paris to pursue painting – a hobby for which he’s never previously shown any aptitude.Amy sends the narrator off to Paris to talk sense into her husband, but Charles never shows the least remorse. The narrator marvels at his insouciance and utter conviction that he is meant to be an artist.He was single-hearted in his aim, and to pursue it he was willing to sacrifice not only himself – many can do that – but others. He had a vision. Strickland was an odious man, but I still think he was a great one.I noted familiar themes from Of Human Bondage (published in 1915, four years prior to The Moon and Sixpence), especially the artist’s struggle, nomadism and the threat of poverty. Dirk Stroeve, the talentless Dutch painter who becomes friendly with the narrator in Paris and recognizes Strickland’s brilliance even as he lets the man walk all over him, reminded me of the happy-go-lucky Thorpe Athelny in Bondage.At less than a third of the length of that earlier novel, though, The Moon and Sixpence struck me as a condensed parable about genius and sacrifice.Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. … It was the work of a man who had delved into the hidden depths of nature and had discovered secrets. … There was something primeval there and terrible. It was not human. It brought to … mind vague recollections of black magic. It was beautiful and obscene.This is a fascinating character study, whether or not you’re aware of Gauguin’s life as the inspiration, and would be a great introduction to Maugham’s work if you’ve not read him before.Originally published with images on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  • Perry
    2019-01-04 04:45

    Beguiling Roman à clef of French painter Paul Gauguin and An Artiste's Obsessive Quest for Beauty [4.3 stars]This rather short novel is Maugham's intriguing, thought-provoking study of the life of the painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and partly his mockery of society's ready willingness to turn sinners into saints, as well as a sobering look at an artist's lifelong pursuit of beauty, at whatever the cost to himself or to loved ones.Gaugin was a despicable misogynist and a dreadfully negative person who left his wife and 3 kids in London in his early 40s, without a smidgen of remorse or regret and without ever contacting them again, to pursue a painter's life in Paris. He then stole another painter's wife and soon thereafter rejected her out of hand as no longer necessary, shortly after which he moved to Tahiti to paint masterpieces, and so on I'll omit for you as spoilers. Let's just say he was a destroyer of lives and relationships.Paul Gaugin, "Where Did We Come From, What Are We Doing, Where are We Going," 1897I recommend this novel, especially if you favor Somerset Maugham, which I do, despite his being an old lady in temperament at times and seeming a bit of a misogynist himself: "Women are strange little beasts... You can treat them like dogs, you can beat them till your arm aches, and still they love you." He shrugged his shoulders. "Of course, it is one of the most absurd illusions of Christianity that they have souls.... In the end they get you, and you are helpless in their hands. White or brown, they are all the same."Paul Gaugin, "Fatata Te Miti, aka By the Sea," 1892.Of course, this is Maugham giving voice to Gaugin; all the same, I've seen many examples in his other works to fairly surmise him a chauvinist to females while loathing himself for being attracted to males in their stead. Notwithstanding, this is an excellent novel sur la vie dans l'art et la recherche de l'artiste et la poursuite de la beauté.

  • Jamie
    2019-01-09 06:35

    Someone would have had to physically pry this book out of my clutches last night to get me to eat dinner. Finished it in five hours flat without intending anything of the sort. I couldn’t put it down. I know I say this a lot but Maugham, goddamn.“But who can fathom the subtleties of the human heart? Certainly not those who expect from it only decorous sentiments and normal emotions.”And this: I remember saying to him: “Look here, if everyone acted like you, the world couldn’t go on.”“That’s a damned silly thing to say. Everyone doesn’t want to act like me. The great majority are perfectly content to do the ordinary thing.”And once I sought to be satirical. “You evidently don’t believe in the maxim: Act so that every one of your actions is capable of being made into a universal rule.”“I never heard it before, but it’s rotten nonsense.”“Well, it was Kant who said it.”“I don’t care; it’s rotten nonsense.”

  • Kim
    2018-12-22 22:46

    Maugham's fictional biography of an artist whose life is based on that of Paul Gaughin, explores the nature of obsession and the creative urge. The central character, Charles Strickland, is a thoroughly unlikeable man: selfish, lacking in empathy and able to abandon his wife and children without a second thought. And yet, as unsympathetic as Maugham makes Strickland, his compulsive pursuit of beauty is understandable. This is short, powerful and accessible, written in Maugham's beautifully clear prose. Not a word is wasted, and every word is worth reading.

  • Bruce
    2018-12-25 06:50

    I thought this 1919 novel was amazing. W. Somerset Maugham’s use of language and his psychological insights fascinated me. Told by an anonymous narrator, a writer, it is the story of the life and personality of one Charles Strickland, a bland, steady, unremarkable London stockbroker who left his career and family, moved to Paris, and became a painter whose paintings were viewed by few people, most of whom thought they were awful. Eventually he moved to and died in Tahiti, achieving great posthumous fame. The story was apparently inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin, although any parallels between the lives off Gauguin and Strickland are loose indeed.Based up comments made by other readers, I have several suggestions to make. First, this is not, nor was it intended to be, a biography or work of historical fiction. It is a story quite independent of Gauguin, and I think the reader is advised to forget about Gauguin and not seek similarities. Second, this is not a narrative intending to portray the normative psychological drives of all artists, and attempts to generalize to other painters, authors, composers, etc, are misguided. This is a story of one artist. Third, this is not Maugham’s autobiography in disguise. Fourth, the novel’s narrator may or may not be reliable and should not be assumed to be an alter ego for Maugham; the narrator’s many philosophical comments and artistic judgments are not necessarily those of the true author. This is a probing narrative of personalities and motivations, pure and simple, and the careful reader will find himself responding out of his own experience. And enjoying the language per se.All that being said, the book is filled with quotable passages. Here are a few:“Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain.”“One (can) be certain of nothing in dealing with creatures so incalculable has human beings.”“Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.”“The writer should seek his reward in the pleasure of his work and in release from the burden of this thought; and, indifferent to aught else, care nothing for praise or censure, failure or success.”I found myself gasping at page after page of this narrative. The author’s precision of language and his insight into human nature, in particular the nature of one specific fictional character, captivated me. Many readers may find that they are reminded of the social ambiance and subtleties in the fiction of Anthony Powell, and the last part of the book may bring back suggestions of Joseph Conrad.

  • Khinna
    2019-01-10 03:26

    It would be a mistake to read this novel as an inspiring tale of the triumph of the spirit. Strickland is an appalling human being--but the world itself, Maugham seems to say, is a cruel, forbidding place. The author toys with theidea that men like Charles Strickland may somehow be closer to the mad pulse of life, and cannot therefore be dismissed as mere egotists. The moralists among us, the book suggests, are simply shrinking violets if not outright hypocrites. It is not a very cheery conception of humanity (and arguably not an accurate one), but the questions Maugham raises are fascinating. Aside from that, he's a wonderful storyteller. This book is a real page turner. Plus, I am an artist and I can be an elitist.

  • LaCitty
    2018-12-18 02:26

    Gran bel libro. I primi 3-4 capitoli sono molto lenti e quasi scoraggiano il lettore, ma poi la storia decolla e seguiamo la trasformazione di Strikland da impiegato londinese a pittore nei bassifondi di Parigi e a Tahiti. È un personaggio strano: freddo, determinato a vivere per l'arte, anaffettivo. Non esita a travolgere quello che si frappone tra lui e il suo destino (emblematico quello che succede con Stroeve e sua moglie) fino al finale agghiacciante, ma per certi aspetti anche catartico.Bella l'idea di raccontare il periodo tahitiano attraverso la voce di tanti testimoni diversi che l'hanno incontrato in quel periodo. Super consigliato.

  • Marigold
    2018-12-29 01:55

    I admire Maugham’s writing - & I loved The Razor’s Edge. But I didn’t enjoy this book. The extreme misogyny of most of the characters really bothered me - & don’t tell me it’s an accurate depiction of social mores of the time – else I shall have to throw some other books from 1919 at you! In this book, Charles Strickland leaves his wife & children after 17 years of a conventional life & passionately pursues his art through starvation & being an utter prick in Paris; then goes to Tahiti where his art really blossoms since here he can beat his wife & she won’t talk back because gosh darn it, “he’s my man.” Getting regular sex with a young brown doormat-woman who you don’t have to pay attention to – very conducive to the artistic lifestyle. Charles doesn’t have to talk to anyone on the island, & because they’re cheerful, barefoot natives, they’re OK with that. Yeah, right. Bored with this happy state of affairs, writer Maugham can’t stand his own main character anymore, so he strikes him blind, gives him leprosy, kills him off & destroys most of his paintings. This is a very short book (thankfully). Basically the tone of this book is that Strickland is a bastard & so’s your uncle. I get it – Maugham is merciless in the last two pages, where Wife #1, back in England, is swiftly cashing in on her former husband’s artistic reputation – though she hadn’t lived with him or heard from him in years - & their now grown children are talking about how war makes a man & quoting the Bible. Yes – we all hate the upper middle class. Maugham takes this a few steps further by showing what happens if you (potential artist) try to get out of this mess. 1. You’ll be a bastard. (Speak for yourself, Somerset!) 2. You’ll starve. 3. You’ll go blind. 4. You’ll die. 5. Someone will burn your paintings. 6. Your upper middle class wife will win in the end. Sheesh!!

  • Henry Avila
    2018-12-28 02:44

    How much do we forgive a great, talented, artist, who is also a despicable human being? Will his admirers look the other way, thinking since he is no longer around and no more harm can be done by him, it is all right now to forgive, and forget, besides, he didn't do anything to their family, but to other people...Shakespeare said, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones"... Englishman Charles Strickland, a thinly disguised Paul Gauguin, is one of those men, selfish, cruel, disloyal, an unfeeling cad, you would loathe if you had ever met, nothing matters but his art, everyone else he can and does step on to reach his higher calling, being a superb painter, but nobody believes in his abilities, they see only a primitive man with the same tendencies on canvas, besides there are hundreds of better painters in Paris. Strickland had abandoned his wife and two children in London, leaving his family without any means of support, if they starved he wouldn't care, nothing is really important but his destiny, set at the turn of the 20th century, Somerset Maugham, does not try to hide the fact that he is the person narrating this novel. Having briefly met Strickland in London when the future legend , was just another boring, ordinary, nonentity, a monosyllabic stockbroker, who could guess of his later fame, Maugham is more impressed by the charming Mrs.Strickland, though not pretty, she does radiate what the perfect Englishwoman should be in that era. Later the shocked lady embraces the rumors that her husband had fled with a young shopgirl to France , she could not face the truth which would be humiliating....Mr. Strickland had secretly gone because he needed to paint. In Paris living in squalor, in an one room, filthy, pungent, airless apartment, he ekes out a living by guiding curious Englishmen, to the sordid sections of the city, that no respectable person would go, the kind of areas, policemen hate foreigners to see. This or any other jobs that puts money in his hands, more so for buying things to continue painting, than to eat or pay the rent, he has lost much weight, to rather an unhealthy level . None buys his paintings but he doesn't care. Finally meeting a bad Dutch painter, the humane Dirt Stroeve, who actually sells his mediocre paintings, short, plumb, gregarious, he never takes it personally when fellow artists disparage his product, but his English wife Blanche, does, she has a checkered past and this type of woman can't forgive the man who saved her, Dirt. An ailing Strickland becomes dangerously ill, he is nursed by the generous Dutchman, the only person who perceives his genius, in is own home, the reluctant wife helps, the life of this scoundrel will not end, here, he pays back his huge debt by taking away his Blanche . Maugham, who is now living in Paris, and becomes friends with the always kindly Dirt, writing a play, there, is more upset than her husband, he will forgive, if she returns... but tragedy ensues. Strickland somehow, gets on a ship and after much travels, arrives in the beautiful , tropical, south seas island of Tahiti...Years pass, nothing is heard about this fugitive from civilization, until during WWI, Somerset Maugham, at his government's request, goes to the same island that Strickland was on, there the paintings he had been indifferent to, shocks his senses, the sparkling, plethora of colors, the blues, greens, yellows, reds, violets, and whites, bright, brilliant, a glorious stream of unending shades, it teases the mind, and makes him dizzy, this, never captured before, so well on canvas...now he has seen the real Strickland.

  • Maryam Hosseini
    2019-01-10 05:44

    ایده داستان از زندگی ِ نقاش فرانسوی (پل گوگن) گرفته شدهو خـواسـت یک انسان از زندگی اش و چگونگی رسیدن او به هدف اش رو مطرح کرده. و این دغدغه رو خیلی خوب به ذهن خواننده منتقل می کنه و به فـکـر وا می دارهروند داستان جذاب و پرکشـش هست و تحلیل شخصیت ها از جوانب مختلف خوب صورت گرفتهاگرچه شخصیتی مثل دیرک استروو و رفتار او برای من دور از ذهن و غیر قابل باور بود..بخش های گفتگوی راوی با استریکلند(نقاش) فوق العاده جذاب بودکتاب "راهی به سوی بهشت"از ماریو بارگاس یوسا هم متاثر از زندگی همین نقاش *نوشته شدهدر هدف خود یک دل بود و برای دنبال کردن آن حاضــر بود نه فقط خود را "فـــدا کند (این کار را خیلی ها می توانند بکنند) بلکه دیگران را نیز قـربانی می کرد. استریکلند مرد منفـــوری بود اما باز هم فکر میکنم که مرد منفـــور بـزرگی بود"

  • John Farebrother
    2019-01-18 03:52

    This book is awesome. It's about a middle-aged English stockbroker who gives up his family, job and everything and moves to Paris to live his dream of being a poverty-stricken painter. Still not satisfied, after he has learned the basics he works his way by sea to Tahiti and goes native, living only to paint, and ultimately dying in the midst of his ultimate creation and his new family. Selfish? Yes. Irresponsible? Yes. But you only live once. If you have a dream don't let conventions and routine bind you. As TE Lawrence wrote in Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, “Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” The facts of the book are based loosely on the life of the French painter Gaugin.

  • Chrissie
    2019-01-14 00:48

    Don’t repeat my mistake. I chose this book because I thought it would give me a better understanding of Paul Gauguin’s life and inner thoughts. This is instead a book of fiction. Maugham creates a new story from a few of the well known facts about Paul Gauguin. Gauguin was a stockbroker who left his wife and family to paint. Maugham creates the fictional character Charles Strickland. He too is a stockbroker who leaves his family. Both go to Tahiti. Neither receives recognition for their artistic talent until after death. The differences are however so numerous that you cannot look at Strickland’s life and draw any conclusions about Gauguin’s motivations or thoughts. Here follow just a few of the differences:(view spoiler)[1. Gauguin was French, Strickland English.2. Gauguin had five children with a Danish wife. Strickland two with an English wife.3. Gauguin died of syphilis, Strickland of leprosy.4. Gauguin was part of the art community in France, Strickland was on his own. Not a word is referred to Gauguin’s time with Van Gogh in Arles. (hide spoiler)]Because of these differences you cannot draw any parallels. You cannot get inside the head of Gauguin through the character of Strickland. For this reason, the book cannot be classified as a book of historical fiction whose purpose is to teach you more about the artist Gauguin. OK, what does the book offer? It looks at the motivation of an artist, any artist. What drives them? What motivates them? What pleasures and what sacrifices result from this creative urge? Except…. can you generalize to this extent? Isn’t it better to look at one specific person? The only person we have to follow is Strickland.Strickland’s story/biography, which constitutes the story of this book, is told by an unnamed author who knew Strickland, his wife and his acquaintances. His story is told in episodic form employing a first-person narrative. However, the narrator himself points out that information is lacking and that some of his sources are unreliable. The unreliable evidence is not weeded out; all is related. By collecting information from different sources the retelling becomes both choppy and disconnected. Few of the characters in the side-stories are well developed. Dirk Stroeve and his wife were the exception. Only this diversional side-story drew me in. I adored Dirk, but then Strickland’s story goes on and that is the last we hear of Dirk. What are we given? A choppy, disconnected and incomplete story about a man who is in some ways similar to Gauguin. You cannot draw any conclusions from such a story. Still, Maugham has a way with words. How he describes people, the dialogs, the humorous lines and his ability to capture how people behave, talk and interact - all of this is marvelous. It was the details of the story that I liked not how the story is constructed and laid out.Steven Crossley narrates the audiobook. It is easy to follow. Fine in all respects.And then there is the title: The Moon and Sixpence. It is fun to think about. What is Maugham saying? Wiki says: “According to some sources, the title, the meaning of which is not explicitly revealed in the book, was taken from a review of Of Human Bondage in which the novel's protagonist Philip Carey, is described as ‘so busy yearning for the moon that he never saw the sixpence at his feet.’ According to a 1956 letter from Maugham, ‘If you look on the ground in search of a sixpence, you don't look up, and so miss the moon.’ One can reason either way. They are not the same. But I would add the question: Do we choose, or is it our personality that decides? Could Gauguin be anything except who he was? I am back to Gauguin again because it is him that I am interested in, not Strickland!

  • Antonomasia
    2019-01-07 22:49

    Since I last read a full-length novel, at the end of August 2012*, I've watched c. 450 films - that's a quarter of the total number of films I've seen in my life. I think this has led to a new set of likes and dislikes in the way a story is communicated, which may be as much about written fiction per se as about this book in particular.Quite my favourite thing was Maugham's authorial voice: wise, certain and given to bold idiosyncratic statements which not all will agree with, and not all of which have aged well in the ensuing 94 years. The Moon and Sixpence, like Colin Wilson's The Outsider, having the theme of art above all, art at all costs, could be taken as a late-teens to student book. But the narrative is that of one who, whilst nowhere near life's end, has seen a little of the world and knows what it is to observe a younger generation coming up behind with a slightly different way of doing things which you just don't like as much, even if you know that's how the world inevitably grinds its cogs. At mid-thirties it has considerable resonance. The obviousness of one voice is rarely so strong in film, and this must be something I've missed. Description of characters though, and their personalities especially - even if it was a balanced portrayal - had me rolling my eyes at this embarrassing, repetitive exposition . But I've a feeling that with books, you need some of it. I also watched the film of The Moon and Sixpence a year ago so the story was already familiar. Was that the only reason I felt like I'd heard too many of these tropes before? Or simply because I've read and seen rather a lot on similar subjects? (At any rate I was entirely unable to decide between 4 and 5 stars. I'd probably fumble similarly if attempting to review sculpture ... I just don't feel I've quite got a handle on the medium right now... )Maugham gets a great deal of praise for his style. And the book sailed by at a rate of knots because he is very readable, in a relatively serious and occasionally dry-witted manner. Whilst not every single sentence is perfect of course, he manages to make much other prose appear flabby. Just after finishing this I opened St. Aubyn's Never Mind which had likewise been loitering about in the infernal Kindle for many months and I was seized by the impulse to give those sentences a good tidy. As one who can be perhaps too much a fan of biographical interpretations, it stupidly surprised me that such sparkling clean prose was produced by a man so decadent. *Not exactly so. I had forgotten that in January I read a mostly-autobiographical novel, but it was by a screenwriter and therefore rather filmic.

  • Cheryl
    2019-01-07 01:25

    A book about genius and the artistic process. The story is told by a man who knew Strickland, years after the artist's death. (The format of the novel reminded me of Citizen Kane.) The narrator relates both first and second hand info about Strickland's life. The novel is sort of divided into two parts, with the first part portraying Strickland from society's view (his behavior towards people, more than his painting), and the last part showing Strickland's psychology and artistic process (from the artist's view).Although I never liked Strickland as a person and found it hard to read some parts about his behavior, I did find his obsessive striving towards his artistic goal fascinating. Not an easy read for me, but ultimately a rewarding one.

  • Pradnya K.
    2019-01-18 04:51

    Quite an insightful read into the behaviours of men! (and women, of course) I picked it up sooner due a recommendation from a friend and I say, it surpassed my expectations. Though it's not very long book, the description never seemed lacking and one can easily picture and feel the surroundings. And the paintings too. The characters, though make short and fleeting appearances, are unforgettable. The events and the situations they face are intricately unfolded that I was marvelled how a few paragraphs can make this happen. But that's the art, right? And in my first rendezvous with Maugham, I accept him as an artist.The story inspired on the life of the artist, Paul Gauguin, is told matter of fact, without taking sides. Sometimes I felt the author was on a constant lookout for finding something to give thumps up to the protagonist but if so, he isn't very articulate about it. So many things are left to the reader's imagination without being stated but well-hinted. The wife of the protagonist, Charles Strickland, for example, comes across as a hypocrite but only in the end reader can conclude so. Blanche Stroeve, a lady who falls in love with Strickland, seems obscure but not untill the revelation of Strickland of after her sad fate one can be sure of. The protagonist is, though central figure, remains obscure. I was somehow in knowledge of the story did not find his acts shocking. Inhuman? Base? No. Cruel, yes. Inconsiderate, yes. But would he be happy or could have kept his family happy if he remained his home and kept on doing what he did. I feel the answer is no. People often spend lives in compromise, though always beckoned by some true passion. And repent in the end days. I asked myself what would have happened if he was dead? The things won't change much. But we are not taught to think this way. Saying that I'm not justifying the deeds of Strickland but I cannot find him wrong entirely. But then, I'm talking and thinking the situation in today's world. For centuries back, I don't know how it might have been. So without any further thought I'd let the things go. Great artists are not always great human beings. And if we expect so, we're setting wrong expectations. As Maugham says in the very beginning that the artist's personality is something as important as his art, we might be in dark in many cases. Today, we know the artist well through social media but earlier their company was limited to a very few people and their art required them to live a life of hermit. Hence we never know the complete truth about them.

  • Sandra
    2019-01-17 05:51

    "Se guardi a terra in cerca di una moneta da sei pence, non puoi guardare in alto, e così non vedi la luna"Ecco spiegato, dalle parole di Maugham stesso, il significato del titolo del romanzo. In esse è riassunto il senso del racconto della vita di Charles Strickland, che di punto in bianco abbandona la vita agiata in una famiglia alto borghese londinese per seguire il demone che fino ad allora era stato in agguato dentro di lui e all’improvviso è esploso con la violenza di un uragano che travolge ogni cosa: il demone dell’arte, la rabbiosa ricerca della bellezza che gli tormenterà l’esistenza. Nonostante le tragiche vicissitudini che l’uomo attraversa dal momento in cui viene travolto dall’oscura forza interiore, che lo portano ad affrontare pericoli, miseria e malattie da Parigi a Marsiglia fino a Tahiti, Charles Strickland non desta compassione in chi legge, ma sprizza solo antipatia, si rivela un bruto, non solo sgraziato e quasi animalesco nell’aspetto, ma del tutto indifferente ed irrispettoso nei confronti di chi lo avvicina, tranquillamente pronto a calpestare chiunque si frapponga nell’esclusiva meta che lo spinge, la sua Musa, la necessità artistica di dipingere. Questo è l’Artista, ci dice Maugham. Prendere o lasciare.Lo scrittore narra, con impagabile bravura come sempre, una biografia non lineare del pittore, ma ricostruita grazie in primo luogo alla conoscenza diretta del narratore con l’artista fin da quando viveva a Londra con la famiglia, sia grazie ai racconti di chi l’ha incontrato, lasciando al lettore il compito di trarre le conseguenze, che ci riportano al titolo del libro: se ci si ferma in superficie si vede solo l’aspetto sgradevole della persona Charles Strickland e delle sue opere, rimaste incomprese finchè l’artista è vissuto, perché il genio è una fiamma interiore che brucia ed illumina il cielo. Non fermiamoci alle apparenze, la natura umana è contraddittoria, l’esperienza di Strickland mostra “quanto c'è di posa nel sincero, di bassezza nel nobile, di bontà nel reprobo”. La saggezza dello scrittore britannico, basata sul buon senso e la conoscenza degli uomini, mai scevra di ironia e cinismo, genera ammirazione nel lettore per la semplicità con cui viene posta e la profondità dei segni che lascia. Leggete Maugham, non ve ne pentirete!

  • kaelan
    2019-01-09 03:37

    I bought The Moon and Sixpence years ago. But looking back on it now, I'm not sure what first attracted me to the book. I've never been an especially ardent admirer of visual art, nor do I recall ever having heard the name "W. Somerset Maugham" brought up in conversion. Maybe I just liked the cover design: Penguin Black Classics standard, featuring a detail from Gauguin's Self-Portrait with Christ. Or maybe I was intrigued by the quaint and enigmatic and vaguely antiquated Englishness of the title.In any case, I recently decided to dust off my copy (I was in need of something short to read) and boy am I glad I did so. The Moon..., which follows the life of a dull, middle-aged stockbroker who abandons everything to become an artist, reads like the novelThe Fountainhead wanted to be yet couldn't. Both investigate the relationship between genius, selfishness and obsession. Yet unlike Rand, Maugham doesn't wish to shove any particular ideology down your throat. No, there's a question—not a point of dogma—lurking at the heart of this novel: When pitted against one another, does morality trump artistry—or vice versa?Regrettably, Mr. Maugham (like Rand) suffers from a slightly underdeveloped prose sensibility; and despite his overall even-handedness, he betrays a tendency (again like Rand) to portray his female characters in a less-than-stellar light. But such peccadilloes notwithstanding, the extraordinary agnosticism with which The Moon... treats its moral content, coupled with several intriguing formal devices, makes The Moon... a more than worthwhile read. Recommended for lit buffs, artists, aesthetes, Modernists and closet/recovered Randians.

  • Kelly
    2018-12-22 22:52

    I can't imagine ever disliking a Maugham book. I may just like some more than I like others. I feel that he has to be the most quotable author of all time. When I read his work, I highlight so much that stands out for me. The enormity of this man's talent just leaves me in awe. His words flow like fluid from the pages. He gives you so much to reflect on.This book is great, but I don't think I liked it quite as much as The Razor's Edge or Of Human Bondage, which I really thought were brilliant. But, there is really nothing negative to say here... The character of Charles Stickland is not a very likeable one, but it is very intersting to read about his passion and drive for art. It was like he had an inner mission, and he did not really care or expect anyone else to understand it or accept it. I feel like this book is a perfect example of not necessarily liking the characters, but loving the book for what it is.

  • Bill
    2019-01-03 00:29

    Such an excellent story! My first experience with Somerset Maugham was The Razor's Edge, a book I had great difficulty putting down. The Moon and Sixpence is my second experience and I found this story much the same. It is based somewhat on the life of Paul Gauguin and follows one Charles Strickland, a London businessman, who in his '40s decides to leave his family, move to Paris and become a painter. The author of the tale meets up with Strickland throughout his time in Paris and follows him ultimately to Tahiti, where Strickland has finally found out where he belongs and what he wants to paint. Strickland is not a likeable character; he abandons his wife and children, ruins other lives during his travels. But there is something about him that draws the author in. Maugham is a wonderful story-teller, his style is clear and flows so wonderfully. He puts you in his story, you can picture the people and the locations. And the story is fascinating, a joy to read.