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The Razor's Edge

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Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of this spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brillant characters - his fiancee Isabel, whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions, and Elliot Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob. The most ambitious of Maugham's novels, this is also one in which Maugham himself plays a considerable part as he wanders in and out of the story, to observe his characters struggling with their fates.

314 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1944

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About the author

W. Somerset Maugham

1,449 books4,986 followers
William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in Of Human Bondage, Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he almost literally starved while pouring out novels and plays.

Maugham wrote at a time when experimental modernist literature such as that of William Faulkner, Thomas Mann, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf was gaining increasing popularity and winning critical acclaim. In this context, his plain prose style was criticized as 'such a tissue of clichés' that one's wonder is finally aroused at the writer's ability to assemble so many and at his unfailing inability to put anything in an individual way.

During World War I, Maugham worked for the British Secret Service . He travelled all over the world, and made many visits to America. After World War II, Maugham made his home in south of France and continued to move between England and Nice till his death in 1965.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
January 11, 2019
In all big cities there are self-contained groups that exist without intercommunication, small worlds within a greater world that lead their lives, their members dependent upon one another for companionship, as though they inhabited islands separated from each other by an unnavigable strait. Of no city, in my experience, is this more true than of Paris.

4 ½ stars. I liked this book a lot. Much more than Maugham's Of Human Bondage, but not quite as much as The Painted Veil.

The first person minor perspective works really well here. Maugham inserts himself into the story, but mostly exists as an observer and messenger, retelling the tales passed to him by Elliott, Larry, Isabel and others. I think this is one of the most interesting narrative structures-- we are still a part of the story, not looking down on it, but we are also an outsider peering in. It seems to be exactly the right amount of proximity and distance to suit me.

I also like Maugham best when he is fondly mocking human nature. Elliott has to be the most lovable snob I've ever had the pleasure of encountering. It is he that introduces the narrator to young couple, Larry and Isabel, and he isn't shy about his views on their impending marriage. In France, the only civilized country, Elliott says, Isabel would have the sense to marry Gray instead and take Larry as a lover.
Who could deny that Elliott, that arch-snob, was also the kindest, most considerate and generous of men?

The story is about the journey of all these characters as they each pursue their own personal goals. Elliott's goal being social eminence, Isabel's wealth and comfort, and Larry's - perhaps most interesting of all - enlightenment and self-understanding.

Larry is a fascinating character; a First World War veteran who comes back changed, but instead of responding to his brush with death by breaking down, he becomes curious about the world and people. He begins to care little for money and possessions, much to the chagrin of the affluent Americans around him. His need for understanding takes him across the world, finally landing him in India. Non-Western philosophy features a lot in Maugham's work, and here Brahmanism offers Larry a new perspective.

Maugham's narration is chock-full of witty remarks that are genuinely very funny and have withstood the test of time. As usual, art and literature feature heavily, as do snobbery, social interactions and character drama. It's almost soapy, except it's a little too sophisticated for that. (But only a little.)
“And you call yourself an English gentlemen,” she exclaimed, savagely.
“No, that’s a thing I’ve never done in all my life.”

I think I like Maugham so much because he's not particularly moralistic, and any character presenting themselves as holier-than-thou often gets a dressing down. His characters are alcoholics and prostitutes; they behave jealously and question religion. This is another reason I like Larry. For all his pursuit of understanding and rejection of material things, he remains non-judgmental of other characters.

I'll be back for more of Maugham. I've heard The Moon and Sixpence is another good one.

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Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
972 reviews17.6k followers
June 2, 2023
Books like this, that I’ve read so long ago in my past, come back even now to haunt me, like the lilting, plaintive refrain of an old Beatles Love song!

But I only started it in the mid-seventies. Even back then, working in soulless offices, I needed to replenish my heart in long, lingering draughts.

So how did I do that?

If you guessed by hanging around bookstores you nailed it!

There was a Centretown bookshop of irregular modern architectural design right at the hub of the nearby city - my wonderful Dad used to cuss and call it Confusion Square - a hub which would have been ironically termed the heart of the city.

Cause it wasn’t.

Postmodern cities are quite heartless, as their great refabricator Henri Lefebvre used to say.

No: the heart of the city was its bookstores - this one, Classics (my fave chain back then) - and W.H. Smith, Coles, Prospero and later Chapters, all within that two- or three-block epicentre.

Books, as I say, replenish my heart. Always have - ever since that halcyon summer’s day in 1956, when I took up Jules Verne, after digesting my Dick & Jane book in Grade One - and finally discovering reading.

Since that time, books always seem to remind me of my Grandmother, whose literary spending habits were downright prodigal! And she got it from her hubby, my bibliophile Viennese Granddad...

And of course they both passed that on to Mom, the village librarian, and her beloved children.

Mom and Dad had (obliquely) introduced me to Maugham in 1957, I remember, and it was in the form of the then-popular Mr Maugham Himself, a late-life anthology in bite-sized chunks of reading.

Mom was a great admirer of his books!

And no, of course I didn’t actually Read Maugham back then, though my parents extolled his sophistication to the skies.

And THIS book, the Razor’s Edge, I never finished until I was 56.

I had just finished The Moon and Sixpence, which had left a foul taste on my mouth - but, no - I wasn’t about to give up so easily, because my parents swore by Maugham’s genius.

And I remembered The Razor’s Edge GLARING down at me from the top of my piano, unfinished, in ‘76:

“Read me! Read me!” it had seemed to scream out.

And so, now, 30 years after that - having been burnt out in retirement, and being now browned off by my own disaster summed up in The Moon and Sixpence - I picked it up.

And I remembered then... that in my twenties I had thought its hero, Larry, was me!

Larry: the Good self I had almost lost along the way. At least that self was burned by years of passive, though conscientious objection to the Fire at the centre of our times.

And I remembered that I DESPISED myself in my naive twenties for my passive betrayal of that self...

Well, THIS time I loved the book.

It was so ME, it wasn’t funny.

For I was by now relearning my own version of the razor’s edge, my own straight and narrow path through the fire, and had been learning it since the nineties. Just like Larry.

Now, looking back 15 years later, I see the book started an amazing process of Platonic recollection in my soul...

Remembering all my lost beginnings and roads not taken, and straight paths discarded out of hand early on. And Virtues shrugged off as uncool.

A process that made me come to gradually understand, through Larry, my OWN SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY -

Its shaky conception; and

Its happy, Peace-filled conclusion.

Where I am NOW...

Thank Heaven - and many thanks to you, Larry, also.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 2, 2021
(Book 570 From 1001 Books) - The Razor’s Edge – William Somerset Maugham

The Razor's Edge is a novel by W. Somerset Maugham. The book was first published in 1944.

It tells the story of Larry Darrell, an American pilot traumatized by his experiences in World War I, who sets off in search of some transcendent meaning in his life.

The story begins through the eyes of Larry's friends and acquaintances as they witness his personality change after the War.

His rejection of conventional life and search for meaningful experience allows him to thrive while the more materialistic characters suffer reversals of fortune.

The book was twice adapted into film, first in 1946 starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, and Herbert Marshall as Maugham and Anne Baxter as Sophie, and then a 1984 adaptation starring Bill Murray.

لبه تیغ - ویلیام سامرست موام (فرزان روز) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یکی از روزهای سپتامبر سال 1970میلادی

عنوان: لبه تیغ؛ نویسنده: ویلیام سامرست موام؛ مترجم: مهرداد نبیلی؛ تهران، سازمان کتابهای جیبی، 1341؛ در 142ص؛ چاپ دوم 1343؛ چاپ سوم، سال 1345؛ چاپ چهارم، 1349، در 554ص؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

عنوان: لبه تیغ؛ نویسنده: ویلیام سامرست موام؛ مترجم: داریوش شاهین؛ تهران آپ‍ادان‍ا‏‫، 1365؛ در 616ص؛ چاپ دوم 1368؛ چاپ دیگر تهران‏‫ م‍دب‍ر‏‫، چاپ سوم 1369؛

داستان «لبه تیغ» را نویسنده ی «بریتانیایی»، «ویلیام سامرست موآم»، نخستین بار در سال 1944میلادی منتشر کردند، رمان درباره ی جوانی به نام «لاری» است؛ که درآمد ناچیزی دارد، و از زندگی خویشتن نیز خشنود است، او در جستجوی یافتن پاسخ پرسشهای خویش است، «لاری» میخواهد بداند غایت زندگی چیست؛ روش «لاری» خوشایند نامزدش «ایزابل» نیست؛ «لاری» از پذی��فتن شغل‌هایی که پیشنهاد می‌شود، سر باز می‌زند، و برای یافتن پاسخ پرسشهای خویش، به کتابخانه می‌رود؛ «ایزابل» که پس از دو سال تلاش، نتوانسته «لاری» را از پژوهش دور کند، تهدید به جدایی می‌کند؛ «لاری» جدایی را می‌پذیرد؛ در یک معدن زغال سنگ استخدام میشود، و از آنجا به همراه یک «لهستانی»، که گرایشی به عرفان دارد، به «آلمان» سفر می‌کنند؛ اما پاسخ پرسشهای خویش را نمی‌یابد، سپس به «اسپانیا» می‌رود، و همچنان سفر به نقاط گوناگون دنیا را پی می‌گیرد؛ آرامشی به او دست می‌دهد؛ به «پاریس» برمی‌گردد، و تصمیم می‌گیرد با «صوفی» ازدواج کند؛ و ادامه داستان...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 18/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 10/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews812 followers
December 24, 2016
The best novel I've read since joining Goodreads might be The Razor's Edge, the 20th century bestseller by prolific British playwright and author W. Somerset Maugham. Published in the U.S. in 1944. a bit of my euphoria has to do with the book; much of my intoxication has to do with the time in my life which I read this particular book. In 2016, I came into a creative stride, writing first drafts of a short story and a novella and completing the groundwork for the final draft of a novel. I started smoking a pipe. I'm learning to play chess. I started a new job which will finance A, B and C (pipe smoking and chess playing being modest luxuries but my new salary being modest as well).

I'm reading close to fifty novels a year and feel as if I've developed a palate for vivid storytelling, well-developed characters and disarming dialogue. Amid a lot of desire and confusion, The Razor's Edge put a customs stamp on these passages in my life. It's the story of six characters--not including Maugham, who includes himself as a seventh character and our reliable narrator--who progress from acquaintances to friends to intimates in all the aspects that matter in the end. Like compelling characters in all great dramas, or all chess pieces, each has a measurable affect on the other while at their core, remain true to their disparate natures to the end.

The story begins in Chicago immediately following the First World War in 1919 and concludes in Paris immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The worlds that Maugham explores are not geopolitical so much as they are spiritual. His six unforgettable characters might as well be on an island together. Stopping in Chicago on his way to the Far East, Maugham crosses paths with Elliott Templeton, an acquaintance of fifteen years, an American living abroad whose expertise as a broker in fine art has allowed him to ingratiate himself in English and French high society, where the elegant bachelor lives and breathes for event planning and cultivating social relationships.

They were afraid he was a snob. And of course he was. He was a colossal snob. He was a snob without shame. He would put up with any affront, he would ignore any rebuff, he would swallow any rudeness to get asked to a party he wanted to go to or make a connection with some crusty old dowager of great name. He was indefatigable. When he had fixed his eye on his prey he hunted it with the persistence of a botanist who will expose himself to dangers of flood, earthquake, fever, and hostile natives to find an orchid of peculiar rarity.

Elliott is in Chicago visiting his sister when he invites Maugham to a luncheon at her home on Lake Shore Drive. There, the Englishman meets Elliott's niece Isabel Bradley, a tall, radiant twenty-year old of natural elegance who makes quite an impression on Maugham. He also meets Isabel's boyfriend, Laurence Darrell, a pleasant looking but shy boy who goes by "Larry" and impresses the narrator with how effortlessly he seems to take part in conversations without ever uttering a word. It is later revealed that Larry was an aviator in the war and has recently returned from Europe. To the mounting insecurity of Isabel's mother and uncle, the boy has turned down offers for work.

Accepting a dinner invitation from Elliott at his sister's the following evening, Maugham is seated next to a drab seventeen year old girl whose shyness belies shrewdness and intelligence; the playwright gets her to open up by asking her who everyone else at the table is and much later in the book, will come to know this doomed girl as Sophie Macdonald. She introduces Maugham to Gray Maturin, son of a millionaire investment banker in Chicago who is as virile and strong as Larry is puny and unassuming. The worst kept secret in the room is that Gray is enamored with Isabel, but won't dare make an advance or stand a chance as long as Larry is in the picture.

Uncle Elliott is of the opinion that Larry won't amount to much and that his niece would be advantaged marrying a man of position and fortune. He tells his sister that if the young people had the civility of the French, Isabel would marry Gray and take Larry as her lover, while Gray offered himself as benefactor to a prominent actress and everyone could be happy. Maugham holds a higher impression of Larry and finding him in a library reading Principles of Psychology, learns the veteran has rejected college as summarily as he has a career. Larry challenges the Englishman's assertion that university would prepare him to make fewer mistakes by stating that making mistakes is how he might learn something.

I was butting into an affair that was no concern of mine, but I had a notion that just because I was a stranger from a foreign country Larry was not disinclined to talk to me about it.

"Well, you know when people are no good at anything else they become writers," I said, with a chuckle.

"I have no talent."

"Then what do you want to do?"

He gave me his radiant, fascinating smile.

"Loaf," he said.

I had to laugh.

Isabel lures Larry on a picnic where she reads him the riot act: She loves him but believes that a man must work, as a matter of self-respect. Larry tells Isabel that he loves her too, but that money just doesn't interest him. Being a pilot gave him time to think, and watching his friend in the air corps sacrifice himself for Larry has led him to the choice of leaving America and searching for his own answers. Larry visited Paris several times on leave and knowing no one there, finds the city as good a place as any to begin his sabbatical. Giving himself a year or two at the most, he compels Isabel to wait for him.

The following year, Maugham is in Montparnasse when he spots Larry sitting by himself at a café. He's elusive with the Englishman, except to tell him that he's looking forward to spending time with Isabel when she visits with her mother next spring. Reunited with his fiancée, Larry tells her that he's been reading, attending lectures and studying Greek. He wants to know whether God is or is not. Money still doesn't interest him, he's given no thought of returning to Chicago and when he asks Isabel to marry him and live with him in Paris, the couple mutually choose to end their engagement, remaining friends instead.

Intersecting Elliott or Isabel or Larry over the years in his travels across France, through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression and the march toward world war, Maugham chronicles Elliott's strive for social imminence, Isabel's desire for fortune and community and Larry's pursuit of happiness, a journey which takes the loafer to a coal mine in France, a Benedictine monastery in Germany and an Ashrama in India. Maugham introduces one more unforgettable character: Suzanne Rouvier, mutual friend of the narrator and of Larry who came to Montmartre from the countryside without a penny, but realized her facility as a model and artist's muse.

For by now she knew her value. She liked the artistic life, it amused her to pose, and after the day's work was over she found it pleasant to go to the café and sit with painters, their wives and mistresses, while they discussed art, reviled dealers, and told bawdy stories. On this occasion, having seen the break coming, she had made her plans. She picked out a young man who was unattached and who, she thought, had talent. She chose her opportunity when he was alone at the café, explained the circumstances, and without further preamble suggested they should live together.

"I'm twenty and a good housekeeper. I'll save you money there and I'll save you the expense of a model. Look at your shirt, it's a disgrace, and your studio is a mess. You need a woman to look after you."

He knew she was a good sort. He was amused at her proposal and she saw he was inclined to accept.

I feel the same way about The Razor's Edge that millions feel about The Lord of the Rings. Maugham's narration is as imaginative, incisive and delectable as Tolkien's, his dialogue as fanciful and his ability to create worlds within words as ingenious, but rather than transport the reader on a physical journey through an outer world, sets out across the landscape of the soul. The trick of the novel is that rather than come off as preachy with counterfeit messages (like Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist), the book is character driven, and the only philosophy in it is what the author observes from the characters and their decisions. It's a real story.

Casting himself as a relatively successful playwright and author who is neither owner or worker and whose gift is listening unobtrusively to either social class, Maugham's storytelling is boozy with passion and wit. There were moments when his male gaze over Isabel raised my eyebrow, but overwhelmingly, the writing felt as contemporary or vital as any written in recent years. Humor, tension and sensuality were equally strong throughout. My travels have not been anywhere near as extension as the author's, but I have met people a little like each of his six major characters. Their desires and limitations all felt palpable and after finishing the book, I'm a lot less apt to judge them.

Two of my favorite sub-genres or topics are The Open Road and The Bum. My favorite author John Steinbeck's work is strong with the allure of both of these and so is The Razor's Edge. I like to think that most people fantasize about walking away from the daily grind to see the world, reading, learning another language or just staring at the clouds. This has a greater hold on me than dragons or orcs and Maugham took me from the world of business and politics off the beaten path to the world of faith with a masterful facility that will be with me for a while. In my mind, Larry, Isabel and Suzanne are still out there, somewhere, and so is this perfect book.

It is very difficult to know people and I don't think one can ever really know any but one's own countrymen. For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives' tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in. It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can't come to know by hearsay, you can only know them if you have lived them.

Maugham's work has lent itself well to film or television and The Razor's Edge has been adapted to screen twice. In 1946, 20th Century Fox mounted a production starring Tyrone Power as Larry, Gene Tierney as Isabel, Clifton Webb as Elliott and (winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress) Anne Baxter as Sophie. In 1984, Columbia Pictures produced a little-seen remake starring Bill Murray as Larry, Catherine Hicks as Isabel, Denholm Elliott as Elliott and Theresa Russell as Sophie. Murray--who's always entertained an aloof professional manner--went on a loafing-like hiatus as a film leading man for four years following the release of the picture.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book489 followers
September 11, 2021
Oh, Mr. Maugham, there are moments when I love you so much I could burst. Moments when I wish there were a six star rating, so I could put it into your hands and say "I got that part and it resonated with me." Moments when I want to say, "enough of that, get back to the story", only to find That is the story, That is the heart.

This novel made me wish to live in the post WWI twenties and have endless possibilities open to me. It made me examine the life I have lived and wonder if I couldn't have gotten more out of it if I had been bolder or less worried.

It's strange how many people suffer from it (fear). I don't mean fear of closed spaces and fear of heights, but fear of death and, what's worse, fear of life. Often they're people who seem in the best of health, prosperous, without any worry, and yet they're tortured by it. I've sometimes thought it was the most besetting humour of men, and I asked myself at one time if it was due to some deep animal instinct that man has inherited from that primeval something that first felt the thrill of life.

How any things have I not done in life because I was afraid to try them? More than a few I can remember. Here at the end, I wish I had been braver, bolder and, yes, a little crazier.

This is surely amongst the best, if not the best, of Maugham's works I have found so far. By inserting himself into the novel, he makes it seem so vital and real, and even while understanding it as a contrivance, it lends these characters heft and weight and importance. For each of them, life is about choices and one has to question which of these characters is the most fulfilled. In the end we are told they all got what they wanted, but did they? Eliot wants to be very important, but is he? Does anyone truly want death? Should we choose security over adventure and love? Is a higher truth worth striving for? Can a man ever identify and know God?

The Maugham who is a character in this book is only an observer, no wiser than the others, unable to give us the answers and willing to accept the failures. The Maugham who wrote this book is wise and savvy and enlightened. He knows. This book is like an onion. I kept peeling it back to find another layer, and another layer, and a layer deeper even than that.

Unless love is passion, it's not love, but something else, and passion thrives not on satisfaction, but on impediment. What d'you suppose Keats meant when he told the lover on his Grecian urn not to grieve? 'Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!' Why? Because she was unattainable, and however madly the lover pursued she still eluded him.

Perhaps true knowledge is as unattainable as love, always more to know, always another place to seek in, always a little out of our reach. In the hands of God, who might reveal it to us at the moment of our deaths or might send us back to strive again and again until we have gotten it right.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,154 reviews1,694 followers
September 12, 2022

Il primo film dal romanzo di Maugham è del 1946, due anni dopo la pubblicazione. A giudicare dalla foto, le montagne sono ricostruite e dipinte in studio.

Per alcuni (molti) il romanzo migliore di Maugham. Di sicuro il suo più celebre.
Per me un’altra occasione per Maugham di dimostrare quanto bene sappia scrivere storie emozionanti. Come se fosse la cosa più semplice e naturale del mondo.
Per lui.

Il film fu diretto da Edmund Goulding, Tyrone Power era Larry, con una decina d’anni in più, e Gene Tierny era Isabel.

Sembra il romanzo di Elliot, vecchio snob, che si preoccupa solo di feste mondanità e posizione sociale: ma nel profondo nasconde la consapevolezza di non poter mostrare il suo vero io, ben più umano e compassionevole di quanto appaia, perché circondato da un ambiente superficiale e ‘borghese’.
Ma sembra anche il romanzo di Isabel, nipote di Elliot, la quale appare davvero innamorata di Larry, ma non riesce ad aspettarlo: e soprattutto non sa rinunciare a lusso e agi. Perciò sposerà un uomo che non ama, ma saprà garantirle quel tenore di vita cui lei tiene tanto. E passerà il resto della sua vita a rimpiangere Larry.
E non è neppure il romanzo di Gray che sposerà Isabel, nemmeno quello di Sophie o di Suzanne Rouvier…

In piedi a sn Herbert Marshall che interpreta W. Somerset Maugham. Seduto a sn Clifton Webb che è lo zio Elliot. Al centro Anne Baxter nel ruolo di Sophie, per il quale vinse l’Oscar come migliore attrice non protagonista.

In verità, è il romanzo di Larry. È lui il vero protagonista. Quello che cammina sul filo del rasoio.
È difficile camminare sul filo del rasoio; così, dice il saggio, è aspro il cammino verso la salvezza.
Così recita l’epigrafe presa dalle Upanishad.
Larry è giovane, bello, intelligente, affascinante, ricco. Ma è stato aviatore nella Grande Guerra, ha visto da vicino l’orrore, ha visto morire un suo compagno per salvargli la vita. Un trauma che non riesce a superare, non riesce a tornare alla vita di prima, a quella che lo aspetterebbe (e gli spetterebbe) sposando Isabel.
Ha bisogno di cercare l’illuminazione, una regola di vita che gli soddisfi la testa e il cuore, e ha bisogno di cercare se stesso.
La sua ricerca lo porta a camminare sul filo del rasoio perché è aspro il cammino verso la salvezza.
Rinuncia: Larry rinuncia ai soldi, a una vita di sicurezza e svaghi. Preferisce vivere con poco. Preferisce cercare la sua strada come minatore, o meccanico, o mozzo di nave. Preferisce andare in India (un quarto di secolo prima che ci arrivino i Beatles e i figli dei fiori: il romanzo di Maugham è stato pubblicato nel 1944).

L’io narrante, però, assiste alle vicende, le segue, più che prendere parte. Perché, con colpo da maestro, il narratore in prima persona è uno scrittore che rispecchia fedelmente lo spesso Maugham:
Non ho mai cominciato un romanzo con maggiore apprensione. Lo choiamo un romanzo, badate, solo perché non saprei che altro nome dargli. Ho pochi fatti da raccontare e non chiudo né con una morte né con un matrimonio.
Amico dello zio Elliot, vino entrambi preferibilmente a Parigi, senza disdegnare Chicago: ma Parigi è sempre Parigi, specie per gli americani.

Il remake del 1984 mantiene il titolo orginale, è diretto da John Byrum, elimina il personaggio di Maugham, e rende più importante Sophie di Isabel.

Non c’è moralismo in Maugham, non c’è critica alla società borghese e capitalista, non c’è gusto civettuole dell’alternativo, non c’è tentazione di “vendetta” per l’essere rimasto orfano, per la sua omosessualità che ha richiesto molto tempo prima di poter essere vissuta in libertà.
C’è attenzione verso il prendere coscienza di sé. Per scelte non scontate, e non obbligate. Per il lato indefinibile, sfuggente e inafferrabile della vita. C’è attenzione per la spiritualità – orientale in questo caso, ma che non esclude quella dell’occidente – attenzione interesse per sentieri esistenziali diversi, per dolore e incertezza, per profondità e rinascita.

Il protagonista Larry è interpretato da Bill Murray.

Se Maugham scrive libri di intrattenimento, viva la letteratura d’intrattenimento.
E se anche gli intellettuali inarcheranno le sopracciglia, noialtri, il grande pubblico, amiamo tutti, nel fondo dei nostri cuori, le storie a lieto fine e forse la mia conclusione, così com’è, piacerà ai più.

Theresa Russell è Sophie Macdonald, l’amica che muore.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,864 reviews522 followers
March 20, 2023
It took me a long time to read this book, this beautiful book, this excellent book. I took time because every sentence deserves to would read carefully. It is indeed serving by subtle prose, sought after in its simplicity.
The stories are complete. They demonstrate how each life carries a greater or lesser share of tragedy and ridicule; happiness cannot be an exact science. However, it is happy that each has its definition: it can hide in futility like the Absolute. They also allow you to position yourself facing each character described in this beautiful, lovely book.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,242 followers
October 15, 2019
In 1919 war hero Larry (Laurence) Darrell returns to his hometown of Chicago, wounded twice, the brave aviator, has a deeper injury which changes him considerably. A comrade saved his life but lost his, over France, dying on the cold ground. Isabel Bradley, Larry's faithful fiancee notices the alteration .When his best friend Gay Maturin, gets his millionaire father Henry to offer his pal a good job. Darrell turns it down, he doesn't want to sell bonds, who does ? Still you can make a lot of lovely money, in the roaring
era of wealth, naturally some acceptable dissipation occurs by hungry men, for the mighty dollar . W.Somerset Maugham the famous British author is visiting the windy city ( yes, he the novelist puts himself in the story) . Another of his books, "The Moon and Sixpence", has just been published and is an unexpected bestseller. Doing interviews with the local newspapers, Maugham gets an invitation to have lunch with Elliott Templeton, an old friend and Isabel's rich uncle. Elliott lives in Paris and comes home to see his family, Maugham the great writer, resides mostly in France too. Mr.Templeton is a big snob and proud of it, he nevertheless surprisingly... also a kind man, loves High Society and thinks Paris is the only place to live. Later Maugham has dinner with all the main characters, at Isabel's mother's home, Elliott's sister (the author insists that this is a true story, we will never know for sure). Sophie, Isabel's childhood friend, talks to the writer, a shy teenager. She is in love with Larry and Gay with Isabel, Sophie, Isabel and Larry, all have known each other since they were children in school. Everyone there tells the veteran, be smart, be a man and sell bonds...Larry is suffering from war shock... one of the many names, which future wars will apply different labels to, this tragic illness. Not strangely however but understandable, the former intrepid pilot has seen plenty...
enough gore, and never glorious death, for anyone to stomach in a lifetime...instead...
just wants to loaf. After joining up in Canada, the air corps in France, at seventeen ( he's now 20), in the unmourned, horrific, bloody long ago conflict, 100 years old in the past...
now decides to go back to Paris for two years, to forget and live on his small inheritance. Explaining to the not very understanding Isabel,"The Dead look so terribly dead when they're dead". Many years after, they all will meet again, in a seedy Paris nightclub, Larry roams the world and looks like a bum, trying to find a reason for life. Takes a job as a coal miner, for the experience, stays at a monastery for months, seeing if inner peace can be achieved there, of course it probably never does. Even visits faraway, exotic India, and a famous, charismatic Yogi. Saintliness, is how Larry describes the man in a loincloth, however can Darrell ever find the happiness he desperately seeks ? A book for the adventurous, not of the lands of the Earth, but a bigger territory...the mind.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,385 reviews2,257 followers
April 21, 2020
Tracing the intimate lives of representative British and American upper class, The Razor's Edge, set in Chicago, largely in Paris, and also India, was one of the first Western novels to explore non-Western solutions to society’s ills. Larry Darrell maybe seen as the protagonist, but Maugham, who is himself a character in the book, only focuses on Larry occasionally and provides little insight to this man, who, early on, declares he simply wants to loaf until it becomes clear to him what he wants out of life. I would even go as far as to say he is completely overshadowed by the other characters: Maugham as the partially-omniscient narrator, clearly more interested in other people's relationships than his own, the rich Chicago matron Bradley, the sharp-witted daughter Isabel, the old financier Maturin, and his dull-witted son Gray. Yet it's Larry who remained strongest in my mind after the closing pages. Whilst parts of the novel, especially in Paris, had me thinking of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, in terms of the drinks flowing, the cocktail parties, the restaurants and the scintillating conversations, Maugham's novel I found to be much deeper, and far more profound.

The novel opens with Maugham admitting his apprehension at writing a novel that doesn't have a clear ending, but regardless what readers read into that, in the end, The Razor's Edge delivers a compelling and thoroughly engaging narrative.
Larry, who is a sensitive, intelligent young man refuses to conform to the prevailing social norms of America after the Great War, and instead of wedding a rich, pretty Chicago girl, he starts a vagabond quest searching for answers to questions about man, God, and the meaning of life. This would first involve travelling to Paris, which would eventually lead to stops in Germany, Spain and more importantly, India. With the latter destination finally answering some of his questions through the teachings of Eastern spiritual men, in particular an influential holy man Larry discovers who is clearly Ramana Maharshi, as described by Maugham (he himself visited Ramana's ashram on a journey to India in 1938).
His former fiancée, Isabel, marries Gray for financial security rather than love, and still holds Larry close to her heart, but is completely baffled by the way he chooses to now, with little money, live his life. They would meet up again, but as completely different people.
Long conversations that drive the novel's narrative is clearly one of Maugham's greatest assets here, and with his elitist friend Elliott, the opportunistic French artist Suzanne Rouvier, and tragic addict Sophie, with whom Larry would fall in love, Maugham gives the lesser characters that drop in and out of the novel important roles that do in fact shape the story.

Unsurprising to me, The Razor's Edge became one of the biggest-selling books of Maugham's career, and I doubt I'd read a better one. I only wish I got to read at least fifty pages at a time, as reading in smaller chunks, which ultimately I had to, it was difficult to find a suitable place to stop, sometimes making it a bummer to pick up again right in the middle of a conversation. It's a novel that would fully benefit being read with the least amount of breaks possible. Other than that, The Razor's Edge was one of the best novels I've read in 2019. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything negative to say, so it's two big thumbs up to Maugham!
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews7,023 followers
February 14, 2012
This has to be the most endearing and accessible of Maugham's books. With the right smattering of philosophy and literary techniques to keep one challenged too.

It has been one of the defining books in my life.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,135 followers
June 3, 2021
In Asian countries, the custom of “home leaving” is not as common as it used to be, but it is ingrained in the culture deeply enough that it’s not yet considered weird. Home-leaving essentially means literally leaving your home, but also your secular life, in order to go on a spiritual journey, maybe even go live in a monastery and take vows and be ordained. There is no equivalency to this custom in Western civilization: usually, people who leave everything behind to go look for the meaning of life are considered to be a little crazy (or cashing in on the trendiness of mindfulness and enlightenment). As a culture, we’ve actually gotten a bit cynical about it, and with reason. But that quest can certainly be genuine, and the cultural bias against it probably intimidates a lot of people who could greatly benefit from giving it all up for a while and trying to see beyond the world they were raised in.

This simple yet astonishingly layered novel by Mr. Maugham is about a man who goes on such a quest, maybe one of the first “white dude goes to India to look for the meaning of life” story in English literature. I didn’t know anything about the plot before I picked it up, and I’m going to try and not give anything away in this review because I am sure that experiencing this novel with as few expectations as possible is the best way to experience it.

Larry is a smart and sensitive but directionless young man. After a traumatizing experience in service during WWI, he comes back to the United States incapable of fitting into the societal mold his guardian and fiancée try to force him in. He can’t go back to school or get a job. He doesn’t quite fit in with his old crowd either, they seem preoccupied by things that make no sense to him, like marriage, money, social status – and none of them understand why he won’t try to cash in on the wonderful potential he has to be an early 20th century American success. Larry’s aimlessness eventually leads him to leave his lovely fiancée Isabel behind as he goes off to Europe, and eventually Asia to quench what we recognize today as a spiritual need that his society cannot satisfy. Dejected, Isabel marries Gray, an old friend she has affection but no passion for, and it will be years before she crosses Larry’s path again. Their story is told to us directly by Maugham, who in a very post-modern manner, makes himself a part of his narrative: he meets Larry and Isabel through his friend, the charming but inveterate snob Elliot Templeton, and crosses paths with them many times through years and travels, and they catch him up on their lives with each encounter. This makes the book feel like a quiet and introspective study of human emotions through the lens of friendly gossip, peppered liberally with Maugham’s amazing wit and delightful prose.

While I was reading “The Razor’s Edge”, I caught myself thinking that this is a book for grown-ups. Not because it has dirty stuff in it, though the characters talk quite frankly about sex, for a novel published in the 40s, but because I don’t think the events it describes could be empathized with by teenagers. Heartbreaking and life-changing decisions such as the ones made by Larry, Isabel, Gray and Sophie are the kind that gives adulthood its true meaning. Leaving someone you are still in love with, understanding that the weight of your responsibility is greater than your personal satisfactions, dreading irrelevancy in other people’s lives, grieving until your own welfare doesn’t matter... That is some grown-up stuff.

I was very interested in Larry’s musings about religion, God and the meaning of life, as well as our place in it. His perspective and interrogations echo my own thoughts on those subjects, and it was fascinating to read those words, written more than 70 years ago because they felt very fresh, very modern and very relevant. I do believe that it is important to think critically about your own culture and to be constantly curious until you can find something that makes sense to you.

Maugham’s work never ceases to amaze me, and each of his novels that I have read has taken me to an unexpected and deeply affecting place. I am starting to think that no one does characters just like he did, because seldom to I encounter characters that are so human, so flawed, so tragically real – and who’s struggle cracks my heart like an egg. But most importantly, his characters are beautifully layered confections – that may or may not be real people, and the beauty of the way they are written is that you can’t help but feel deep compassion for them: they may not be great people, but you never get a sense that he looks down on them, that their immoral actions are held against them or judged. Sophie’s terrible downward spiral and relapse are described with shocking frankness, but the reaction Maugham teases out of the reader is not disgust, but sadness and an urge to grab the poor woman and give her a hug and a helping hand.

This was a wonderful read, subtle, funny and bittersweet. I absolutely loved it.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,077 reviews495 followers
May 6, 2022
A Timeless, stirring drama, scaling the heights of ecstasy to the dregs of utter despair.

"The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard." (Paraphrased from the Katha Upanishad)

Larry Darrell is a likable fellow, engaged to young socialite, Isabel Bradley. Larry goes off to war, but returns a changed man. He breaks his engagement to Isabel and leaves his former life behind, and sets off on a series of spiritual quests. (My teen self fell in love with the ideal that was Larry Darrell!)

Larry Darrell was as close to Nirvana as a human could be, according to the narrator in this story. I just saw Larry as a simple, decent person who took life as it came and made the best of things, refusing to be sucked into the sham that was success and social status.

There were a few somewhat decent movie adaptations of this book, but I was totally upset when comedian Bill Murray was cast in the part of the luminous Larry Darrell. Talk about miscasting: it put Larry in a totally foolish, bumbling light! Catherine Hicks and Theresa Russell were excellent as Isabel and the tragic Sophie.

Sophie's character stayed with me long after I finished this story: in the beginning, she had the perfect life. But her happiness would be painfully fleeting: she lost her adoring husband and sweet little baby in an accident and turned to alcohol and drugs to dull her pain. Maugham described her fall from the sublime to the dregs so eloquently and with such moving compassion.

This was a stirring melodrama that often had me on the edge of my seat. I didn't know what to make of the ending, but I was so very young at the time. Now, I would just turn the page, sigh, and say: such a thrilling life! Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Pramod Nair.
232 reviews194 followers
July 22, 2015
Its a toss-up when you decide to leave the beaten track. Many are called, few are chosen.

A classic which is really worth reading. The author narrates the tale of a man who is in search of the true meanings of life by turning down opportunities and taking up a "road less taken" lifestyle.

In The Razor’s Edge Maugham introduces the reader with Larry Darrel, an American pilot who is in shock after his experiences during the World War I. After returning from war, he was so changed with his perspectives about life that leaving his fiancée and the opportunities of an affluent lifestyle he sets on a journey in search of the truth regarding the life. After a lot of loafing about and trying his hand at several arduous jobs like mining and farming he becomes a ship-man which takes him to India where he is influenced by the Eastern mysticism and discovers the path of salvation.

The book makes the reader ask himself some very difficult to answer, but pretty straight forward questions about life. The book dwells on some major concepts of Advaita Vedānta Philosophy and Maugham’s lucid narrative combined with his clever style of placing himself inside the story as a narrator and taking the story forward by focusing on people around Larry and sketching their reactions on the changes that occur in Larry’s lifestyle makes this a fantastic book to read.

"The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard," - This translation from a verse in Kaṭhopaniṣad, which was chosen by Maugham as the novel's epigraph explains the title of the book and the difficult path which leads to true salvation.

The 1944 first edition hardbound copy of this novel, which i had the luck to pick up from a thrift shop some years ago, is a proud gem in my library.
Profile Image for M.rmt.
126 reviews230 followers
February 6, 2017
دلم میخواد مثل لری تو یه خونه کوچیک زندگی کنم، کتاب بخونم و با آرامش زندگیمو پیش ببرم. هر وقتم که دچار روزمرگی شدم،کوله پشتیمو بردارم؛ از کشوری به کشور دیگه برم؛ از فرانسه و آلمان بگذرم، کوه ها و روستا هارو پشت سر بذارم و از شهرای متمدن عبور کنم و به هند،مهد عرفان برسم.
دیدن فرهنگ های مختلف و انسانهای رنگارنگ و خوندن کتابها هر انسانی رو به جواب سوالش نزدیک میکنه همان چیزی که باعث شد لریو از یه زندگی معقولانه دور کنه. افسوس که لری نیستم و وابستگی ها مثل زنجیری مانع از رسیدن به رویاها میشه.شاید خیلی از ماها آرزوی لری بودن داشته باشیم اما محافظه کاری بر ما غلبه میکنه و ترجیح میدیم مثل دیگران ادامه بدیم، همون تصمیمی که الیزابت گرفت و تا آخر عمرش تو دوراهی موند که چقدر تصمیمش درست بود و هیچ وقت هم نفهمید.
موام برخلاف همینگوی و گری و فیتز جرالد از عشق های اسطوره ای و مرگ معشوق و داستانهای فانتزی_ که تو دنیای واقعی خبری ازشون نیست_نمیگه بلکه روایت زندگی خودمون به صورت حقیقی و واقع بینانست.
با اینکه میتونست خیلی کوتاهتر باشه شاید هر 200 صفحه یه صفحه پیدا میشد که میتونستی بگی" وای موام عجب حرف جالبی!" با این حال روند شیرین و گیرایی داشت.و میشه راجع به شخصیت لری و الیزابت و سامرست موام و تک تک افراد ساعت ها نوشت و بازم کم نیورد.
Profile Image for Jenn(ifer).
159 reviews952 followers
March 21, 2013

"One of Maugham's three major novels ..." TIME. That's high praise coming from TIME magazine. This MUST be good.

I’m sure some of you are familiar with a little American television drama series that aired on HBO from 2002-2008 called The Wire. I was way late to the party, but over the past 6 months or so, I’ve managed to watch all 5 glorious seasons back to back to back. Well, glorious to a point. But what the hell happened in season 5? I kept waiting for it to get good, kept waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the outlaw Omar Little to come along, whistling ‘The Farmer in the Dell,’ and take that bitch Marlo down. Man. Talk about anticlimactic. How you gonna do Omar like that, huh?

I had a similar experience with this book. I was really digging it for about 200 pages. Then an unfortunate thing happened…

I forgive the weirdness of Maugham interjecting himself as a minor character in the story and the weirdness of him being the narrator. I forgive the implausibility of every character just happening to feel the need to unburden themselves in his presence, whether they really knew him or not. What I cannot forgive is this:

I feel it right to warn the reader that he can very well skip this chapter without losing the thread of such story as I have to tell, since for the most part it is nothing more than the account of a conversation that I had with Larry. I should add, however, that except for this conversation I should perhaps not have thought it worth while to write this book.

What? What the What??? Well of course I have to read it now that you’ve said “(blah blah blah) except for this conversation I should perhaps not have thought it worth while to write this book.” But good God man, I wish I hadn’t. That was just awful. All that bullshit Eastern philosophy seemed so contrived. I think Maugham got confused for a moment there and thought he was Hermann Hesse. He is not Hermann Hesse. No one wants him to be Herman Hesse.

I loved that the main character (Larry Darrell) was going through his own ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ spiritual journey type thing, travelling from country to country trying to find his own version of Truth. I loved him, and I loved the way he eschewed all of the so called social norms and expectations and did his own thing. But that whole conversation was just plain hackneyed and I wish I had never read it. Minus that chapter, this is definitely a 4 star book. But quite honestly, I was sitting in a park reading the chapter that INSPIRED THE BOOK and I almost threw it in the garbage can unfinished.

I’m just bitterly trying to pretend that chapter never happened. If I could do it all again, I’d be like that annoying little kid who doesn’t want to listen to his mother, with his fingers in his ears going “la la la laaaa.. I can’t hear you." The end.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,896 reviews1,927 followers
May 31, 2019
Rating: 4.25* of five

The Publisher Says: Intimate acquaintances but less than friends, they meet and part in postwar London and Paris: Elliot, the arch-snob but also the kindest of men; Isabel, considered to be entertaining, gracious, and tactful; Gray, the quintessence of the Regular Guy; Suzanne, shrewd, roving, and friendly; Sophie, lost, wanton, with a vicious attractiveness about her; and finally Larry, so hard and so trustful, lost in the world's confusion. Their story, one of Somerset Maugham's best, encompasses the pain, passion, and poignancy of life itself.

My Review: It is pleasant to give yourself over to the care of a master, or mistress, of craft. The Razor’s Edge is masterful. It is an expression of the mastery Maugham earned through many long years of novel-writing and mostly successful critical reception of his work that this book, which came almost forty years into a career of more than sixty years, feels as fresh as his first great novel (Of Human Bondage, 1915). It deals, as is the case with so many writers’ oeuvres, with many of the same themes and issues as the first book and most of his subsequent work.

A critic reviewing The Razor’s Edge today would likely fault the author for choosing to write the story from his own first-person point of view. The fashion today is for first-person narratives, it’s true, but Maugham uses a narrative device…the story told to the narrator by others…very much out of fashion in today’s world. It is accused, perhaps with justice, of taking the forward thrust out of a story. It makes the reader a follower, a passive observer of the story, instead of giving the presently fashionable sense of watching the story unfold before the reader’s eyes. In a world that craves “The Real World” and “Survivor,” the technique of the cicerone leading the reader around the story feels artificial and affected. That is too bad. The Razor’s Edge is a pleasant journey in the company of interesting people. It’s not a fast-lane zoom like Less Than Zero, in a car full of noisy meretricious mercenary monkey-boys. It is a subtler pleasure, a trip more akin to touring the blue roads of the American countryside than that superhighway journey.
Profile Image for Maryll.
41 reviews4 followers
March 4, 2008
I didn't love it as much as I expected. The premise that Eastern philosophy has something to offer us in the West just isn't as novel as when this book was originally published. Maugham's description of upper crust society in Paris is bitchy and wonderfully astute at times. But, like most authors, he found it easier to describe the sinners than the saints. Larry Darrell, the saint of this book, just doesn't seem human or interesting. He and his quest for enlightenment and/or belief in God are one big yawnfest. All Maugham can do is describe Larry's scintillating eyes and his smile over and over and over again and by the end of the book, even Maugham is apologizing for that. Also, Maugham allows himself to be the first person narrator and, as such, does more than his fair share of self-aggrandizing in the book. He befriends prostitutes down on their luck, flies to the deathbed of people he's mildly acquainted with and even pays the funeral expenses of heroin-addicted nymphomaniacs. What a prince. The female cast of characters can pretty much be summed up as a gay man's view of women (Maugham was bisexual, I think, but leaned more towards men) Not terribly flattering or fleshed out to say the least.
Women reading this book should glean three lessons from it: 1)It's not much fun to date a saint unless you get a kick out of living like a hobo and discussing 16th century mystics late into the night. (2) Don't stay engaged to a man who won't tell you where he lives. And finally....(3) Never, ever tell your love problems to a novelist because nothing good will come of it!
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
September 9, 2021
I am considering starting a project to find out why some books are infinitely better at curing a reader's block than others.

This would be my first field study. I picked it up with the tired feeling of not being able to concentrate, and before I knew what had happened, I was completely immersed in the strange lives of upper class Chicago people - charmingly interacting with a fictional Maugham in all kinds of settings.

Maybe the trick is that these people lose the direction of their lives over and over again, but still continue to look for meaning? Who could not relate to that?

Maybe the trick is in the unspectacular development of ordinary life, eloquently narrated and observed?

Or maybe it is just the brilliant spirit of the author shining on each page?

Whatever it is, it's wonderful!
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews517 followers
February 21, 2021
Self-sacrifice, a most "overwhelming" human "passion."

This novel of Larry Darrell's spiritual journey struck me hard with Maugham's valuable instruction on how self-sacrifice to "save" another is greater than any other human passion. The sobering story begins with Darrell returning immensely affected by WW I and yearning for something more substantial than a return to material success in Chicago. His yen leads him to Europe then to Asia, including a 5-year sabbatical in India studying and meditating.

Maugham examines the human effects of self-sacrifice. By this, I refer to sacrifice of self as it transforms into a weakness in the form of a Messianic complex in which one believes she has the power to save a poor soul who is quite clearly past the point of no return.

If you've witnessed it firsthand--as I have a couple of times--you know it ultimately fails unless the person to be saved accepts that she has a problem for which she needs help and completely commits herself long-term to helping in the solution. If either of these conditions is absent, the ultimate crash (commitment, prison or death) will crush the would-be savior who deceived herself into believing in her own miraculous powers, and ignored the truth that some people are constitutionally incapable of attaining an honesty that they have a problem and they need help, or they suffer from some mental disorder.

After protagonist Larry is severely affected by the death of a fellow soldier in WW I, he does much traveling over continents, experiencing different religions as he comes to several self-realizations. The novel became charged with atmosphere and emotions after Larry and the group of characters meet one night at a bar in Paris and in falls a drunk Sophie, a wayward girl from Chicago who's recently lost her husband, and her way through various chemicals and bedfellows. Larry eventually asks Sophie to marry him. She says yes, and well, the rest would be a spoiler.

Still resonating with me is the tug I felt by Larry's frustrations arising from his hopeless desire to save Sophie through self-sacrifice. In describing the grip of passion that's overtaken Larry, an otherwise bright guy, Maugham writes that by becoming engaged to Sophie, Larry tries "to save the soul of a wanton woman whom he'd known as an innocent child," and,
... self-sacrifice is a passion so overwhelming that beside it even lust and hunger are trifling. It whirls its victim to destruction in the highest affirmation of his personality. The object doesn't matter; it may be worthwhile or it may be worthless. No wine is so intoxicating, no love so shattering, no vice so compelling. When he sacrifices himself man for a moment is [or believes himself to be] greater than God, for how can God, infinite and omnipotent, sacrifice himself? At best he can only sacrifice his only begotten son.
Powerful stuff. The only novel I've read that fully explores this significant human blindspot.

The novel's title comes from the Katha Upanishad, a Hindu book of wisdom: The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over: thus, the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.
Profile Image for Steven Kent.
Author 37 books228 followers
October 6, 2012
I love this book. I absolutely adore it.

Larry has returned from World War I and refuses to engage in life. Isabel, his finance, is a member of Chicago high society who finds Larry's lack of interest in life troubling.

Grey, Larry's good friend and a successful stock broker, is loyal to Larry despite his secret love for Isabel.

Sound like a soap opera? It should. Told from the first person by Maugham himself, who runs into Larry every few years over a twenty-year period, this is the story of one man's successful search for the meaning of life.

The writing is so simple and crystal it's almost lyrical. The characters are so lifelike you feel like you know them personally. They impress you, make you laugh, and sometimes disappoint you. This story is filled with tragedy and triumph.

In 1984, I happened upon a beat up paperback copy of The Razor's Edge while perusing a used book store in Honolulu. I read it, then re-read it. It has been among my five favorite novels ever since.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,828 followers
August 27, 2015
Back in the dark days of the mid-’80s, I read somewhere that Bill Murray was going to be in a movie called The Razor’s Edge, and that it was based on a book. Since this was long before the days where you could check IMDB to see what the movie was going to be about, I figured the book had to be hilarious since Murray was starring in it. So I found the book at the library and started reading. I was pretty shocked to find that it was a serious story about a guy who goes looking for the meaning of life. I was even more shocked that I loved it. And even though the movie version flopped and caused Murray to drop out of film making for years, I still want to say thanks to Bill because if it wasn’t for the movie, I probably never would have read this.

Maugham engages in a bit of meta-fiction by incorporating himself into a story he claims at the beginning was true. (I guess there’s been a fair amount of debate on if it actually was based on fact, but I’m content to consider it fiction.) Maugham is friends with Elliot Templeton, an American born snob whose passion is for European high society. Maugham meets Templeton’s relatives while on a trip to Chicago, including Elliot’s niece, Isabel. Isabel is engaged to Larry Darrell. (Feel free to insert your own jokes about “Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother Darrell, and my other brother Darell.”) Larry was a World War I pilot who is driving Isabel’s family crazy with his continued refusal to get a job and start grabbing some of that postwar prosperity that the rest of America is cashing in on.

Over the course of the next two decades, Maugham will learn the story of Larry and Isabel from updates by Elliot and chance encounters with the people involved. Larry and Isabel break their engagement, and Larry travels the world, taking different jobs and doing extensive research on varying subjects without explaining why. Eventually, Maugham learns that the war gave Larry a burning desire to explore the nature of existence and eventually leads him to India where he‘d try to find enlightenment.

Re-reading this, a couple of things struck me about why it appeals to me. The first is the character of Larry. The idea of a character profoundly changed by war isn’t anything new, but Larry comes across as distinct and unique. He isn’t bitter or angry. He isn’t seeking solace in booze or sex or turning into a raging nihilist. Larry comes across as a curious person who was genuinely puzzled about the nature of death and evil, and decides to look for his own answers. His ability to withstand the overwhelming peer pressure to follow his friends into jobs shows his will to follow his own path, but Larry isn’t looking down his nose at anyone. He doesn’t judge others and is content to live his own life in the way he’s chosen. As another character describes Larry, he’s a very religious man who doesn’t believe in God, and that’s a really great character to read about.

The other thing I like is the structure of the novel. Telling the story over a period of years, sometimes as second hand stories told to Maugham was a way to make you curious about Larry and his quest, and Maugham’s talent makes the other characters and subplots come alive.
Profile Image for Gypsy.
399 reviews508 followers
June 23, 2019

کی می‌تونه لاری رو دوست نداشته باشه و حسرت سبک زندگیشو نخوره و بهش حسودی نکنه؟ یه شخصیت بیخیال و جسور و هرکار دلم بخواد می‌کنم و زندگیشو «ولگردی» توصیف می‌کنه، یونانی و فرانسوی یاد می‌گیره و...

ظاهراً این شخصیت واقعی بوده و موام خیلی تخیل نکرده براش. انسان آزادِ عصر مدرن، دغدغۀ خیلی از ماهاست و نویسنده‌ها و فیلسوف‌ها و جامعه‌شناس‌ها و روانشناس‌ها و هنرمندها و دیگران هم از بین ما براومدن. پس صدای انسانی رو همه می‌شناسیم. گریز از آزادی رو همه بلدیم. ولی مشکلات زندگی مدرن بهش دامن می‌زنه. باعث می‌شه بیشتر از خودمون دور بشیم و به چیزی که جامعه می‌خواد نزدیک شیم. ایزابل شیم. تشریفات و زرق و برق زندگی چشم‌مونو بگیره و دنبالش باشیم و توی دنیای درونی خودمون ذره‌ای رشد نکنیم.

نمتونم حجم بیزاریمو از ایزابل توصیف کنم. ینی هربار دهن باز می‌کرد دیالوگ می‌گفت دلم می‌خواست کتابو مچاله کنم. فکر کنم مشخصاً جوان ایرانیِ امروز خیلی این بیزاری رو می‌تونه احساس کنه، چون تقریباً همۀ آدمای دورمون ایزابلن. دختر و پسر و بزرگ و کوچیک هم نداره. این بلاییه که مدرنیسم و تکنولوژی و فضای مجازی و صنایع تجاری و به‌ویژه شرایط کشور، سرمون اورده و نمتونیمم ازشون فرار کنیم. فقط باید دفاع کنیم از خودمون.

لبۀ تیغ کار نسبتاً روونی هم هست. جز یکی از بخش‌های رو به پایانش که خود نویسنده هم می‌گه می‌خواین نخونین و فرقی در داستان ایجاد نمی‌کنه و فقط ذهنیت لاری و گفت‌وگوهاشه و عذرخواهی هم کرده از این بابت. اون قسمت به‌طرز رواعصابی سخنرانی‌طور و معلم‌اخلاق‌گونه و شعاری شده بود و منِ خواننده هم پامنبری. حرفای فوق‌العاده‌ای داشت، اما فرمی که ارائه‌ش کرد اثرشو تقلیل داد. انگار داستان‌گویی قطع می‌شد و سر از متنِ پیاده‌شدۀ یه سخنرانی درمی‌آوردی. بعد راوی اون وسط فقط چندتا سؤال می‌پرسه که مخاطب خسته نشه این همه جمله پشت سر هم می‌خونه و سنجاقی شه برا ادامۀ سخنرانی. سؤالات هم تصنعی می‌شه دیگه. تکرار هم می‌کرد سخنان گوهربارشو. حیف شد.

بعضی جاهام داستان ملال‌آور می‌شد و شخصیت‌ها خیلی حرف می‌زدن. یه مشکلی که من دارم اینه که مدرسان داستان‌نویسی این همه می‌گن، بعد یه کاری می‌خونی می‌بینی یه سری چارچوب‌ها رو اصن نویسنده به یه ورش گرفته و داره کار خودشو می‌کنه. آدم می‌مونه. ینی این نویسنده اینقد به کارش مطمئن بوده و به درجه‌ای رسیده که تونسته چارچوب خودشو بیافرینه و جایی که لازمه رعایت کنه، جایی که نیست نه. به این تشخیص رسیده. و البته یه جاهایی می‌تونه به مخاطب هم اهمیت نده. اولویت همیشه داستانه.

نیمۀ اول یه حالت مقدمه‌ای داره و کند می‌گذره و همه‌ش داری سعی می‌کنی شخصیت‌ها رو بشناسی و بین حرفاشون گیج نشی. (بابا چقد حرف می‌زنن شخصیت‌های این کتاب) از نیمۀ دوم به‌جز اون قسمتی که گفتم، خیلی پرکشش می‌شه. مخصوصاً که دیگه لاری رو می‌شناسی و باهاش همراه می‌شی و به تیکه‌های فوق‌العاده‌ای برمی‌خوری.

من ترجمۀ مهرداد نبیلیِ جدید رو خوندم، از علمی‌فرهنگی. منتها به‌نظرم ویرایش نشده و فرقی با چاپ نشر قبلی نداره. شما فرض کنین در متنی که یارو دیالوگ می‌گه: «چقد خری!» راوی فرو هشتن به کار می‌بره. 😐 یهو از قرن بیستم میلادی می‌ریم به قرن پنجم شمسی! یه سری کلمات اینطوری داشت که اصلاً به متن نمی‌خورد. چرا آقای مترجم؟ چرا علمی‌فرهنگی؟

پایان‌بندیش ولی عالیه. یه سری اتفاق سرنوشت‌ساز برا شخصیت‌ها می‌افته و تقابل زندگی لاری با بقیه رو می‌بینیم. به‌خصوص با ایزابل، ایزابل اونقد خودشو کشت و آخرم رفت آمریکا، لاری هم رفت آمریکا ولی به‌قولِ راوی آمریکایی که لاری می‌ره با مال ما فرق داره. خیلی کوبنده بود.

داستان داستانِ لاریه. بقیه اومدن که فقط به داستان بُعد و عمق بدن تا قابلیت داستانی شدنش رو ارتقا بده. لاری که به خوشبختی دلخواهش رسید، بقیه رم گفت رستگار شدن. :)) تموم دیگه. برین خونه‌هاتون. البته به‌نظرم نویسنده هم داعیۀ داستان نوشتن نداشته خیلی. گفته من یه شخصیت جالبی دیدم، می‌خوام براتون بگم ای خواننده‌های عزیز. این‌طوری.

February 24, 2020
«Η κόψη του ξυραφιού», συνολικά, είναι μια βαθύτατα εμπνευσμένη ιστορία που επιβεβαιώνει τη ζωή.

Είναι ένα επαναστατικό μανιφέστο γραμμένο πολυπρισματικά, έντονο, κρυμμένο σαν σιωπηλή εξέγερση, πίσω απο απλούς χαρακτήρες,
καθημερινούς ανθρώπους, άμεσους και γ��ήσιους εκπροσώπους της ανθρώπινης γενιάς.

Θα μπορούσαμε να του προσδώσουμε φιλοσοφική πνοή σε κάθε παράγραφο, σε κάθε σελίδα, σε κάθε κεφάλαιο αφηγηματικής διδασκαλείας απο τον ίδιο τον συγγραφέα που συμμετέχει ενεργά ως ένα απο τα κύρια πρόσωπα του βιβλίου.

Ο δάσκαλος Μωμ κάνει ευανάγνωστο και αρκούντως αντιληπτό κάθε νόημα που καθρεφτίζεται στον συμπαντικό καθρέφτη με τον ατελείωτο πλούτο και το πνευματικό ξεφάντωμα, την ποικιλία συλλογισμών και ιδεών και το απρόβλεπτο.

Μια κλασική ιστορία καλογραμμένη σαν επίδοξο εργαλείο πνευματικής, ψυχικής, νοητικής και φυσικής μηχανικής στην θεωρία της ολότητας, της προσωπικής επανάληψης και του παντοτινού πουθενά ενός συγκεχυμένου και απαισιόδοξου υλισμού.

Ένα ταξιδάκι αυτοανακάλυψης που περνάει απο τις συμπληγάδες της κοσμικής ματαιοδοξίας και της σειρήνες των πατροπαράδοτων κοινωνικών θεσμών.

Περιγράφει χωρίς πομπώδη συναισθηματικά αναθήματα πάνω σε ένα μ��κροσκοπικό τέμενος εξομολόγησης,
όλα τα αρχαία μνημεία για την δύναμη της θέλησης
που συνεχίζει να ψάχνει το νόημα της ύπαρξης με κόστος την αποπομπή απο τις διαλεχτές θέσεις που διαφημίζει η κοινωνία.

Ο ήρωας μας είναι πραγματικά από τα σπάνια, τα εκλεκτά και τα λίγα κομμάτια που καταφέρνουν να σωθούν

Ο άνθρωπος αποδίδει την έσχατη σημασία σ’ αυτό το οποίο έχει υπό τον έλεγχό του, το ορίζει, το αγοράζει,
το πουλάει,το νοικιάζει.

Σ’ αυτό που ξέρει πως μπορεί να τροποποιήσει κατά βούληση ή να αρνηθεί.
Το σύμπαν της αλήθειας ��άθε ελεύθερου ατόμου παγιδευμένο στον καθρέφτη ευημερίας, εξάρτησης και ηθικών κατεστημένων.

Οι υπόλοιποι χαρακτήρες ακολουθούν την πεπατημένη οδό ,διότι έχουν πεισθεί πως αφού τα πράγματα είναι έτσι, δεν θα μπορούσαν να ειναι αλλιώς.

Ένοχοι αποδέκτες μοιραίων ταξικών πεποιθήσεων.
Τα φαντάσματα των αντιφάσεων αμφισβητούν κάθε μη χρηματοδοτούμενη πραγματικότητα.

Πώς θα έκανε διαφορετικά;
Έχει εδὡ και αιώνες αποκτήσει τη βεβαιότητα της αυτονομίας του, ξέρει πως θα ζήσει, θα πεθάνει και τα αγορασμένα του σταθερά θα εγγυώνται πως το μέλλον θα ήταν τόσο ήρεμο και ασφαλές όσο και το παρελθόν των ένδοξων προγόνων της φυλακισμένης ελευθερίας του, της παντοδυναμίας του.

Ο ήρωας μας έχει μάθει να τροποποιεί τον κόσμο με τα εργαλεία του, έχει περιορίσει με την κριτική του κάθε δυνατότητα για άλλες διεξόδους.

Και όταν ψάχνει να βρει από
πού θα ερχόταν η βοήθεια, τώρα μπορεί μόνο να κοιταχτεί στον καθρέφτη και να σκεφτεί: «μόνον από εμένα».

Πῶς θα μπορούσε να υποφέρει μια κατάσταση που αμφισβητεί την πραγματικότητά του;

Ειναι ένας αναζητητής που ύστερα απο τον εφιάλτη
του πολέμου ακύρωσε την πραγματική κοινωνία και θεοποίησε την σκέψη για πνευματικότητα.

Οι αρχαίοι μυστικιστές, οι κβαντικοί φυσικοί και οι υπαρξιακού φιλόσοφοι δίνουν το ίδιο μήνυμα. Δεν υπάρχει απολύτως τίποτα πέρα απο αυτό που δημιουργούμε στο μυαλό μας.

Σε αυτό το βιβλίο ο καθηλωτικός Μωμ εύκολα μας αποκαλύπτει πως κάθε άνθρωπος υποφέρει με τους ιδιαίτερους τρόπους του, διότι κόλαση δεν ειναι ένας φυσικός χώρος αλλά μια άρνηση με τον θεό σου.

Ο ήρωας μας, έχει την δύναμη της ευελιξίας
σε σχέση με τον εαυτό του ως δίκτυο σχέσεων το οποίο δεν εξαρτάται απο άλλους και δεν έχει προβλέψιμο μέλλον. Υπάγεται σε μια εκτελεστική κατάρτιση ζωής που ορίζεται ως μεταβατικότητα.

Δεν υπάρχει καμία σταθερή ποσότητα υλική ή πνευματική σε τούτη την ιστορία αλλά ένα δίκτυο εξελισσόμενων σχέσεων με ανθρώπους και θεούς.

Εν, ολίγοις ο πρωταγωνιστής
μας είναι πλήρως ζωντανός σε αντίθεση με τους συμβατικούς και βολεμένους φίλους του.
Διαφορετικά ολόκληρο το μήνυμα του μυθιστορήματος θα είχε χαθεί κάπου μεταξύ κοινωνικής ανέλιξης και κληρονομικής κατάντιας.
Οι σχέσεις. Οι εμπειρίες. Η πραγματικότητα που εκδηλώνεται ύπουλα.
Η κόψη του ξυραφιού.
Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς εορταστικούς γλυκούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Raha.
186 reviews177 followers
July 5, 2019
داشتم فکر می کردم که شخصیت یک نفر چقدر باید تاثیرگذار و الهام بخش باشه تا نویسنده ای رو وادار کنه پس از گذشت سال ها، سرگذشت این فرد رو به رشته ی تحریر در بیاره!!؟

شخصیت اصلی این داستان ،"لاری"، اساسا" ��خصیت خوب و بی گناهی نیست، فیلسوف و عارف هم نیست. فقط خودشه، دل مهربونی داره و با اون لبخند گرم و دلنشینش دوست داره همه ی زندگی رو به همراه تمام زیبایی ها و عظمتش، تجربه کنه. پای هیچ آرمان بزرگ و خارق العاده ای در میون نیست، صحبت از کارهای بزرگ و خاص هم نیست، اما در این میون سرنوشت تک تک آدم هایی که به نوعی با"لاری" رابطه دارن، به شخصیتی گره خورده که هر وقت ازش سوال می پرسن: دوست داری چه شغلی داشته باشی!؟ جواب میده : ولگردی
لاری در حقیقت به دنبال دلیل و برهانی برای زندگی و حضورش در این جهان پهناوره، به دنبال دلیلی برای وجود این همه زشتی و تباهی و فلاکت در کنار همه ی زیبایی ها و عظمتی که زندگی و طبیعت عرضه میکنه

جوابش رو البته به باور خودش در انتهای داستان پیدا میکنه و به اون آرامشی که تمام این سال ها به دنبالش بوده می رسه، اما اشکالی که به وجود میاد اینه که این جواب نه تنها شخصیت های دیگه ی داستان رو که حتی خواننده ی کتاب رو هم اونجوری که باید اقناع نمیکنه
دلیل این ناخرسندی، اینه که اصولا جواب خاص و واحدی برای سوالاتی از این قبیل وجود نداره، بلکه به فراخور شخصیت ها و باورهای فردی، جواب های متفاوتی وجود داره که لزوما درست و حقیقی هم نیستن، اما باورپذیرن و اونقدری قانع کننده هستند تا آرامشی رو که در جستجوی اون هستیم، برای مدتی کوتاه در اختیارمون بزارن. حالا یه نفر جوابش رو در دین و مذهب پیدا میکنه، یکی در پول و ثروت، یکی دیگه در فداکاری و ایثار، یکی هم در نابودی بشر و نسل کشی

اوایل نظرم این بود که "لاری" اونقدرها هم هنر نکرد که وقتی همه ی شرایط (پول و وقت) براش محیا بود عازم چنین سفری شد... اما واقعیت اینه که، همین که تصمیم بگیری پاتو از "قلمروی امنت" بیرون بزاری و عازم سفری بشی که خودت هم نمیدونی قراره آخرش به چی و کجا ختم بشه، اگر نشه اسمش رو جسارت گذاشت حماقت هم نیست، بلکه یه "تجربه" ست، تجربه ای که اگر به جاش خودت رو تو چهار دیواری اتاقت حبس کنی و هزار هزارتا کتاب هم بخونی هرگز بدستش نمی آری و لمسش نمی کنی

با تمام این اوصاف کتاب اونجوری که دلم می خواست انتظاراتم رو برآورده نکرد. پراکنده و نامنسجم بودن داستان و حضور کمرنگ "لاری" انقدر آزاردهنده بود که نمی شد از داستان لذت کافی برد. اصلا این کتاب حول محور شخصیت "لاری" شکل گرفته بود دیگه!؟ پس چرا هر 50 صفحه یه بار و اونم در حد یکی دو صفحه ظاهر می شد و بعد دوباره خدافظ تا پنج سال آینده !؟ ...انصاف نبود واقعا
در مورد ترجمه ی کتاب اینکه من دوتا ترجمه از این کتاب دارم. به نظرم ترجمه ی آقای "نبیلی" از هر جهت بهتر و روان تر از ترجمه ی جناب "کرمی فر" بود
Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
714 reviews594 followers
May 19, 2022
110th book of 2021.

Our guests the other day were some of our English family friends who have lived in France for the last 20 or so years (I’ve written about their home in Aston in my mostly non-review of Lolita here). Naturally, we sat around eating a lot of food (lentil shepherd’s pie, with equal number vegetarians to not) and drinking good drink (lager, Limoncello, Bailey’s, Norwegian potato spirits). The adults went to bed and I was left with B., the daughter (a year younger than me) and her boyfriend, S., a Frenchman from Toulouse. By this time, we were a little drunk and more talkative. I told them that I hated England and wanted to live the European/transatlantic life. It was to easy to say, drunk, with little money and no command of any language except English. I’ve long flirted with the idea of learning French (in hope of one day living there, even for a time) and German (to read my great-grandfather’s letters in their original language). My hatred of England isn’t absolute and is only amplified with drink. I asked B.’s mother earlier that same night, looking out at W——’s pier if she ever looked at a little English seaside town such as ours and missed it. She said that though she liked to visit England, she would probably never consider coming back; France was her home, and she preferred it.

This isn’t overly relevant but my drunken desires returned to my mind as I read this Maugham novel which trotted between America, England and, as ever with Maugham, France, Paris. Most interestingly, the narrator of this novel is none other than W. Somerset Maugham—he is our protagonist. He’s a sort of Nick Carraway though, our eyes, and in fact at one point a character says to him, ‘‘I look upon you as a disinterested observer’’. The blurb of my edition reads, ‘Maugham himself plays a part, as he wanders in and out of the story, observing his characters struggling with their fates’, and I find this slightly misleading for two reasons. Firstly, Maugham is the ‘I’ in the novel and is consistently present throughout the novel and scenes that do not include him find their way into the plot because they are being reported to him. Secondly, the words ‘observing his characters struggling with their fates’ implies that the novel is self-aware that Maugham is ‘real’ and they are not—this is also not the case; the novel is framed as ‘true’: the characters are as real as Maugham is. From the first page:
This book consists of my recollections of a man with whom I was thrown into close contact only at long intervals, and I have little knowledge of what happened to him in between. I suppose that by the exercise of invention I could fill the haps plausibly enough and so make my narrative more coherent; but I have no wish to do that. I only want to set down what I know of my knowledge.
Many years ago I wrote a novel called ‘The Moon and Sixpence’. In that I took a famous painter, Paul Gauguin, and, using the novelist’s privilege, devised a number of incidents to illustrate the character I had created on the suggestions afforded me by the scanty facts I knew about the French artist. In the present book I have attempted to do nothing of the kind. I have invented nothing.

The blurb sounds like some very meta and Kundera-esque narrative play, but it is not the case; at most points throughout the novel, I forgot that the narrator was ‘Maugham’ and read the story as a novel like any of his others.

And it is like many of his others. This novel is reminiscent in some ways of his others that I have read. Our main focus character, who Maugham refers to in the quoted passage, Larry Darrell, is similar to many other of his inventions. He is in search of the absolute, he appears to give up love, goes in search of something, travels the world, disappearing for long periods of time, lives in poor conditions by choice, eats little (one meal a day), dedicates himself to artistic pursuits (in this case extreme reading), and so on. He is a rather typical Maugham character and brings in the rather typical Maugham themes: the pursuit of knowledge, the concept of ‘genius’, art and life/love, the nature of fame and immortality, Larry is another vehicle for these recurring themes. In this novel there is the added layer of India and mysticism/eastern religion as he converses with Maugham for a large chapter about Hinduism, the soul, reincarnation and the self. This very chapter is one Maugham informs the reader they can skip if they’d like as it brings nothing to the plot other than the fact it is another instance he speaks to Larry.

There is marriage and love and death and all the usual things involved too. Though I very much enjoy reading Maugham’s novels, I am yet to give a single one that full 5-stars and I thought this would finally be the one; it is just missing that spark that tips it over the edge for me, in some ways still too similar to his other novels to stand out from them. Next year I will be reading his other masterpiece, Of Human Bondage so perhaps that will finally grant him a 5-star rating from me. Nevertheless, I never tire of reading about Maugham’s intellectual characters bustling about Europe and beyond, drinking, talking, reading and writing. All the things I wish I was doing, basically.
Profile Image for Ali Karimnejad.
313 reviews150 followers
December 14, 2020

بسیار ناکافی و کاملا سطحی

نویسنده محترممون، آقای موآم، اومده بر اساس وقایع و شخصیت‌هایی که واقعا دیده و باهاشون حشر و نشر داشته، داستانی نوشته نه آنچنان تخیلی بلکه کاملا ملموس و واقعی. که خوب تا اینجاش اصلا هم بد نیست و اتفاقا برعکس، خیلی هم خوبه. چون حرفهایی که زده می‌شه و اتفاقاتی که در کتاب رخ می‌ده (هرچند واقعا اتفاق خاصی رخ نمی‌ده!) برای خواننده نامانوس نیست، اگرچه یکم خاله‌زنک و عمومردک(!)-طور میزنه.

اما مشکل دقیقا از اونجایی شروع می‌شه که آقای موآم جز نقّالی کردن هیچ کار دیگه‌ای نمی‌کنه و شما بعد از 400 صفحه همچنان منتظری که یک حرف حسابی زده بشه، یک موشکافی‌ای، یک ریشه‌یابی‌ای، چیزی! شخصیت‌ها محدوده و تیپ‌های شخصیتی‌شون محدودتر. در واقع به جز کاراکتر "لاری"، و تا حدی "سوفی"، باقی شخصیت‌ها خیلی به همدیگه نزدیک هستن و همین مساله، جایی برای مقایسه آنچنانی که دست خواننده رو بگیره، باقی نمی‌ذاره. بگذریم که سوفی هم تکلیفش مشخصه و در واقع کل کتاب رو می‌شه "لاری و دیگران" تلقی کرد!ا

با این‌حال اگر ما با کتابی طرف بودیم که از زبان "دانای کل" تعریف می‌شد و طی کتاب، ما به زندگی خصوصی و احساسات درونی شخصیت‌ها آگاهی پیدا می‌کردیم، با وجود کم بودن تیپ‌های شخصیتی، می‌شد یک چیزی از توی کتاب درآورد. اما متاسفانه بخاطر شکل روایت حتی اینم از ما دریغ می‌شه و نهایتا ما جز مکالمات نویسنده (که خودش یکی از بازیگران داستانه) با دیگر شخصیت‌ها، چیز دیگه‌ای دستمون نمی‌یاد و این واقعا ناامید کننده‌ است.

و باز لااقل اگر این جناب لاری، که همه کتاب فدای اون شده، کاراکتری آنچنانی می‌بود، حاضر بودم همه اینها رو یه جوری به عنوان دورچین(!) کتاب قبول کنم اما بدبختانه راه و رسم لاری هم بنظر من قابل قبول نیست و بشخصه اون رو هم نتونستم بپذیرم. من در عین اینکه شجاعت و شهامت لاری رو برای رها کردن همه چیز و رفتن به دنبال معنای زندگی ستایش می‌کنم، اما بنظرم لاری در این جست‌وجو گم شد. انزوا و مرتاضی‌گری برای رسیدن به معنویت بیشتر یاد‌آور همون تفکرات صوفی‌گری هستش که هیچ‌جوره تو کت من نمی‌ره. بقول اون شیخ ما(!) که گفت: "مرد آن بُود که در میان خلق بنشیند و برخیزد و بخورد و بخُسبد و بخرد و بفروشد و در بازار میان خلق، داد و ستد کند و زن خواهد و با خلق درآمیزد و یک لحظه از خدای غافل نباشد"
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
494 reviews243 followers
August 5, 2021
در کتاب لبه تیغ نویسنده آقای سامرست موام به جستجوی سوالاتی مانند معنای زندگی و سعادت در دل زندگی و از نگاه افراد مختلف می گردد ، قهرمانان کتاب او ایزابل دختر جوانی که به دنبال یک زندگی معمولی ایست و و لَری پسر جوانی در پی کمال هستند .
داستان از نگاه نویسنده که در کتاب هم نام موام را دارد روایت می شود ، راوی تقریبا به تمام شخصیتهای کتاب نزدیک است و نگاه مختلف ایزابل و لَری به مسائل مختلف و تاثیر گذاری کاراکترهای فرعی داستان را به جلو می برد .
داستان در شهرهای مختلف در پاریس ، شیکاگو و لندن می گذرد و توانایی نویسنده در توصیف پاریس و جذابیتها و زرق و برق فراوان آن ستودنی ایست ، نویسنده همین طور طبقه اشراف آمریکایی و اروپایی و زندگی آنها را به زیبایی تصویر کرده ، طبقه پولدار و پوچی که زندگی آنها در برگذاری مهمانی و همنشینی با افراد مشهور و پولدار می گذرد ، الیوت نماینده این قشر جامعه است .
اما در این میان لَری ایست که معنای زندگی را در کار یا ثروت یا تشکیل خانواده نمی بیند ، او به دنبال ول گردی یا جهان گردی و هر دم آموختن است . از نگاه لَری هر گونه تلاشی در زندگی تا مفهوم زندگی را درنیابد بی فایده است .
آقای موام قلم روانی دارد و نگارش خاص او خواننده را خسته نمی کند ، در داستان او لَری ایست که در مرکز توجه قرار داد و گویی هر کس از نگاه خویش او را نقد می کند ، خود لَری شخصیت کم حرفی ایست از این رو زمانی که بدون مکث در حدود سی صفحه پُر گویی می کند و فلسفه بدست آمده خویش را برای موام بیان می کند ، خواننده ممکن است حرفهای او را خسته کننده بیابد .
در پایان نویسنده شخصیتهای داستان و لَری رابه حال خود رها می کند ، موام پاسخ واضحی به سوال های طرح شده در کتاب نمی دهد ، اما شاید بتوان درک کرد که حقیقت و سعادت معنای یگانه ای ندارد ، هر فرد بسته به نگاه خود به زندگی به تعریف منحصر به فردی از معنای آن می رسد .
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
November 4, 2018
Chatty, erudite, engrossing and thoroughly entertaining.

W. Somerset Maugham’s 1944 publication, called by many his most ambitious work, centers around a group of friends from Chicago whose lives are chronicled by the narrator over a period of more than twenty years from before the first World War, though the Great Depression and after World War II.

The most stimulating character is Larry Darrell, whose journey towards enlightenment is almost Hessian in its eloquence and single-mindedness. Maugham draws Darrell as an esoteric seeker after perfection who walks away from the material world and chases his own agenda, in stark contrast to the more worldly pursuits of his friends. Darrell’s pre-marriage conversation with Isabel about what is best in life is rare literary magic. A more conventional, but less talented writer, would have used Larry’s quest as a vehicle to explore the spiritual over the material, but Maugham is too much of a well-rounded man of the world and instead blends Larry’s story with a more universal tale of successes and failures.

** Just a thought – was the 1980s TV show Newhart’s characters of Larry, Darrell and his other brother Darrell a playful homage?

This book is full of brilliant characterizations and the dialogue was absorbing. This read like a garrulous visit with friends over years; gossipy and fun but also revealing Maugham’s astute judge of character and situation. The reader finds hidden treasures of sophisticated observation and social commentary delivered with a knowing understanding of the human condition.

This is also a very American novel, even though from the perspective of an Englishman and much of the action is in Europe and abroad. Maugham’s theme of attainment, love and loss transcends a pedestrian account of haves and haves nots and is simply a very good story.

Profile Image for Alice Poon.
Author 5 books270 followers
July 9, 2018

This is a perspicacious study of characters whose fates are indubitably shaped by their respective aspirations, natural tendencies and outlook on life. Maugham doubles as the narrator and as one of the cast (a writer), and through his narration, readers are engaged with the intertwining stories of the various characters, who move between post-WWI Europe, America and India.

Isabel and Larry, two young American lovers who have known each other from childhood, discover the unbridgeable gulf between them before it’s too late, and break off their engagement. With her eyes set upon having an easy and well-provided-for life, Isabel marries a local wealthy heir, Gray, who adores her, but in her heart she can’t let go of penniless Larry. Larry, having witnessed his best friend killed in war trying to save him, goes off on a prolonged knapsack journey to Europe and then to India in quest for the true meaning of life. He has no regrets about breaking off with Isabel and gets on with living life his own way, aiming at cultivating his intellect and at self-perfection. When he decides to marry a childhood friend in an attempt to save her from a downward spiral, Isabel takes it upon herself to sabotage the intended union. Only when confronted by Maugham much later is she forced to confess her malice in the act.

Isabel’s uncle Elliott is a narcissistic socialite who hobnobs with the European aristocracy but is kindly disposed towards his sister and niece. He often dispenses meddling advice to people he is fond of, thinking he is doing them a great favor. In his eyes, Larry is all wrong for Isabel, because he is against making something out of himself. He thinks Gray is the obvious choice as a spouse for Isabel. Later, when Gray and Isabel are ruined by the 1929 stock market crash, Elliott lends them a generous helping hand. But at his senile age, even in his sickbed, Elliott still gets upset at not having been invited to a glamorous party.

I love how Maugham imparts his own wisdom about the philosophy of living through Larry in this richly drawn novel. This is a passage I like:

Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence, one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.

Overall, it is a realistic and thought-provoking story masterfully told, and is the best by Maugham I’ve read so far. I’m giving it 5 deserving stars!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
Author 1 book150 followers
January 16, 2022
“'What’s the good of knowledge if you’re not going to do anything with it?’
‘Perhaps he is. Perhaps it will be sufficient satisfaction merely to know, as it’s a sufficient satisfaction to an artist to produce a work of art.’”

This book. It’s hard to think what to say about it. I find myself not wanting to say much.

It begins in 1919, and takes us through to World War II, following a small group of upper-class characters from a dinner party in Chicago to Europe and beyond. We watch some come of age, some grow old, and some die.

Somerset Maugham sets this story up as true, and puts himself in it as a sort of witness to the events. He is intimate with the characters, but we never get in any of their heads. Everything is from his observation and the many conversations he has with the characters.

He is the perfect observer: gentle, thoughtful, and knowledgeable enough to hold his own in conversations about art, society, literature, business and spirituality. He also makes a good confessor, since he is a kind but indifferent friend to all of the characters. And as a successful writer, he has the means and the time to travel widely and spend many hours in social situations taking place in drawing rooms and cafés. It’s easy for us to believe that a writer would be curious about these people, and that a writer would be able to later relay their stories the way he says he is doing in this novel.

So I guess I’m saying the style was unique, and a big part of the book for me. What he uncovers using this style, is that his characters are each on a quest. Some seek happiness, others security, or acceptance, or love, or fulfillment. And in writing about their quests, he uncovers truths. He explores philosophy and spirituality, but also marriage and relationships. He weaves in his understanding of traits peculiar to Americans, English, and French, and paints a picture of a slice of life during the time between the wars.

It’s beautifully done, soothing to read, vastly enlightening while also being entertaining. A tour de force.

“A God that can be understood is no God. Who can explain the Infinite in words?”
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