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Traveller's Library (1933)

– tekijä: W. Somerset Maugham

Muut tekijät: Arnold Bennett (Avustaja), Joseph Conrad (Avustaja), John Galsworthy (Avustaja), Ralph Hodgson (Avustaja), Aldous Huxley (Avustaja)6 lisää, D. H. Lawrence (Avustaja), John Masefield (Avustaja), W. Somerset Maugham (Selection, Introduction & Notes), H. G. Wells (Avustaja), Virginia Woolf (Avustaja), W. B. Yeats (Avustaja)

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[From the General Introduction to Traveller’s Library, Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1933, pp. 1-11:]

I do not want to tire the reader of this preface with a long account of the reasons for which I have inserted this or that, but I should like him to have patience with me while I tell him exactly what I have been at. I am not a critic or a scholar. Either of these would doubtless have chosen very different things from I have, but if the publishers of this volume had needed the taste of the one or the learning of the other I should certainly not have been invited to make the selection. I am a professional writer. I have read a great deal, sometimes for instruction and sometimes for pleasure, but never since I was a small boy without an inward eye on the relation between what I was reading and my professional interests. […] I am more interested in an author’s personality than in the books he writes. I follow him in the attempts he makes to express himself, his experiments in this manner and that; but when he has produced the work in which he has at last said all he has to say about himself, when he has arrived at what perhaps for many years he has only approached, then I read him no longer. At least if I do it is out of politeness, because he has given me his book, or fear, in case he should be affronted if I didn’t, and not from inclination. Sometimes I have to read many books by an author before my curiosity about him is satisfied and sometimes only his first or second. He may write half a hundred masterpiece after that, but life is short and there is a great deal I urgently want to read, and I am content to leave their enjoyment to others. I daresay some of the authors represented in this volume are not represented by their best things. I dare say they have written since much of greater merit, but I do not happen to have read it.

[…]

This volume then does not pretend to be a survey of English literature during the last thirty years or so, but merely a hap-hazard collection of pieces that I have read and thought I should like to read again. I have chosen them from the work of English writers partly because I know current English literature better than current American literature and because it seemed to me that by keeping to the authors of one country I obtained at least an illusion of unity, which is the only completeness such a miscellany can hope to have; but also because American literature during the last thirty years is so rich, especially in the short story, a form I am particularly attracted by, and in the light novel, a form not often successfully cultivated in England, that I should have been overwhelmed by the mass of matter. I could never have got into the limits of this book half the things I should have urgently wanted to put in. I have in point of fact read again all that is here offered to the reader and I think that it is good. When I was gathering the materials I made a list of a number of things that I thought I should like to include, but when I came to tackle them found that many of them did not bear a second reading. I made some unforeseen discoveries. Stories that I had thought profound now seemed to me pretentious and others that I had thought humorous, silly; verses that had moved me left me cold and essays I had found suggestive I now found trivial. I have thrown many old friends into the dustbin; but not without a sigh. Lest the kindly reader should think me heartless I hasten to add that I speak metaphorically; I have in fact put them in a large packing-case and sent them to the local hospital.

The ablest editor I know is accustomed to say: I am the average American and what interests me will interest my readers; the event has proved him right. Now I have most of my life have been miserably conscious that I am not the average Englishman. Let no one think I say this with self-satisfaction, for I think that there is nothing better than to be like everybody else. It is the only way to be happy, and it is with but a wry face that one tells oneself that happiness is not everything. [...] The accident of my birth in France, which enabled me to learn French and English simultaneously and thus instilled into me two modes of life, two liberties, two points of view, has prevented me from ever identifying myself completely with the instincts and prejudices of one people or the other, and it is in instinct and prejudice that sympathy is most deeply rooted; the accident of a physical infirmity, with its attendant nervousness, separated me to a greater extent than would be thought likely from the common life of others. In my communication with my fellows I have generally felt ‘out of it’; in that uprush of emotion that sometimes seizes a crowd so that their hearts throb as one I have been lamentably aware that my own keeps its accustomed and normal rhythm. When ‘Everybody suddenly burst out singing’ as Siegfried Sassoon says in one of the most moving of the poems I have been allowed to reprint in this book, I have always felt exceedingly embarrassed. And when on New Year’s Eve people join hands and swinging them up and down to the music, like a nurse rocking the baby, sing lustily Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot, my shivering nerves whisper, yes, please. I cannot then offer this book as the choice of the average man and I cannot say that because these things please me they will please you. If you like me they will please you, and if you don’t they won’t. Though I do not share many of the prejudices that many people have, I naturally have prejudices of my own, and they will be obvious to anyone who reads this book through.

[…]

In this volume there is nothing that I would not have been glad to write myself. Of course I know that there is a great deal that I have not the gift to write. When I was young in moments of passion I used to beat my fists on the writing table and cry, by God, I wish I had more brains; but now, resigned though far from content, I am prepared to make do with what I have. Just as there are painters’ pictures, there are writers’ books. There are also readers’ books. These are books that a reader enjoys but a writer, knowing the trick, finds intolerable. They are written to a formula. The author has set himself too easy a task. It is as if you expected a juggler to be amused by a child bouncing a ball. [...] Another kind that comes for me under the head of readers’ books is the whimsical. These are much written by the literary sort of critics who think they will take a rest from serious work. They are often cultured and written with distinction. They have what is generally described as a charming fantasy. The formula here is simple. A middle-aged literary man takes a holiday in the country and on his walks meets a leprechaun and exchanges pleasantly philosophical remarks with him; or a young poet seeks lodgings in a London suburb where the maid-of-all-work is of an astonishing beauty; she converses with an ingenuousness that brings a lump to your throat, and there is certainly another lodger, a middle-aged literary man, who makes pleasantly philosophical remarks. Generally somebody dies in the end and it makes a very pathetic scene. There are very delicate descriptions of scenery. The reader will find nothing of the kind in these pages. He will find humour and he will find pathos. He will not find the namby pamby.

Nor will he find the didactic. Of late years the novel as everyone knows has widened its scope; it has become a platform for the exposition of the author’s ideas. Novelists have become politicians, economists, social reformers and what not. They have used the novel to advocate this cause and that. They have been deeply concerned with the vital problems of the day. [...] I know it is out of fashion just now to think that the object of art is to entertain. I cannot help it. When I want instruction I go to philosophers, men of science and historians; I do not ask the novelist to give me anything but amusement. I am not in bad company, for Corneille (after Aristotle) thought that the pleasure of his audience was the poet's only aim, and the tender and perfect Racine contended, even with acrimony, that the first rule of the drama was to please and all the others were devised merely to achieve that end. And did not the philosophic Coleridge say that the object of poetry was delight. [...] I wonder if the writers of fiction who are so determined to teach us and improve us noticed that the other day a racing motorist who had driven a car faster than anyone else in the world was brought up on to a public platform to tell the free-born electors of a great constituency how they should vote on a question concerning the relations between the British Empire and India. There is a certain vulgarity in setting yourself up as an authority in matters on which your knowledge can be but superficial. I do not see why the storyteller should not be content to be a story-teller. He can be an artist and is that so little?

I read in the papers that rhetoric is coming into fashion again; and an eminent anthologist (but a less eminent novelist) is, I hear, bringing out a collection entirely devoted to purple passages. I shall not read it. In poetry, which is the happy avocation of youth, I do not mind, in moderation, a little rhetoric, but I do not like it in prose at all. I think the reader will find little in the following pages that is not written with simplicity. In my youth, influenced by the fashion of the day, I did my best to write in the grand manner. I studied the Bible, I sought phrases in the venerable Hooker and copied out passages from Jeremy Taylor. I ransacked the dictionary for unusual epithets. I went to the British Museum and made lists of the names of precious stones. But I had no bent that way and, resigning myself to writing not as I should have liked but as I could, I returned to the study of Swift. […] For long I thought that Swift was the best model on which the modern English writer could form his style, and I still think there is something intoxicating in the order in which he places his words. But now I find in him a certain dryness and a dead level which is somewhat tiring. He is like a man who, whatever his emotion and however emphatic his words, never raises his voice. It is a little sinister. I think if I were starting over again I should devote myself to the study of Dryden. It was he who first gave the English prose its form. He released the language from the ponderous eloquence that had overwhelmed it and made it the lovely, supple instrument which at its best it is. He had the straightforwardness and the limpidity of Swift; but a melodious variety and a conversational ease that Swift never attained. He had a happy charm of which the Dean was incapable. Swift’s English flows like the water in a canal shaded by neat poplars, but Dryden’s like a great river under the open sky. I know none more delightful. Of course a living language changes and it would absurd for anyone to try to write like Dryden now. But his excellencies are still the excellencies of English prose. English is a very difficult language to write. Its grammar is so complicated that even the best writers often make gross mistakes. The various influences to which it has been subjected have made it a difficult medium to handle. Pedants have burdened it with pomposities. Clowns have jumped with it through paper hoops and juggled with its beauties as though they were the properties of the circus ring. Rhetoricians have floundered in the richness of its vocabulary. But its excellencies remain unimpaired. It is with joy and pride that I can point to them in many of the authors who grace this collection by their works.
1 ääni WSMaugham | Dec 5, 2019 |
Traveller’s Library

Compiled and with Notes by
W. Somerset Maugham

Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., New York, Hardback, 1937

8vo. xii+1688 pp. Compilation, Notes and Introduction [1-11] by Maugham.

First published, 1933.

CONTENTS:

General Introduction by W. Somerset Maugham

A NOVEL

Nocturne by Frank Swinnerton

SHORT STORIES
Section I

Note by W. Somerset Maugham
Youth by Joseph Conrad
An Outpost of Progress by Joseph Conrad
The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbohm
Enoch by Max Beerbohm
The Inmost Light by Arthur Machen
The Country of the Blind by H. G. Wells
The Celestial Omnibus by E. M. Foster
Io by Oliver Onions
The Second-Class Passenger by Perceval Gibbon
The Ginger-Nut by A. Neil Lyons
Bringing a New Boy by C. S. Evans
The Prussian Officer by D. H. Lawrence
The Tillotson Banquet by Aldous Huxley

ESSAYS
Section I

Note by W. Somerset Maugham
Swinburne by Edmund Gosse
Robert Louis Stevenson by Edmund Gosse
No. 2 The Pines by Max Beerbohm
Wordsworth in the Tropics by Aldous Huxley
Reminiscences on Conrad by John Galsworthy
A Hermit's Day by Desmond MacCarthy
Dr Burney's Evening Party by Virginia Woolf
How to Know a Good Book from a Bad by H. W. Garrod

POEMS
Section I

Note by W. Somerset Maugham
The Making of a Poet by Roy Campbell
The Serf by Roy Campbell
Horses on Camargue by Roy Campbell
On Some South African Novelists by Roy Campbell
Blighters by Siegfried Sassoon
Base Details by Siegfried Sassoon
Idyll by Siegfried Sassoon
Vision by Siegfried Sassoon
Everyone Song by Siegfried Sassoon
Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc
Lines to a Don by Hilaire Belloc
The Statue by Hilaire Belloc
On a Dead Hostess by Hilaire Belloc
On a Great Election by Hilaire Belloc
Partly From the Greek by Hilaire Belloc
Autumn Evening by Frances Cornford
To a Lady Seen From the Train by Frances Cornford
In the Caves of Auvergne by W. I. Turner
The Bull by Ralph Hodgson
The Mystery by Ralph Hodgson
Leisure by William H. Davies
Sea-Fever by John Masefield
I See His Blood Upon the Rose by Joseph Plunkett
The Rio Grande by Sacheverell Sitwell

A NOVEL
Note – On Arnold Bennett by W. Somerset Maugham
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett

POEMS
Section II

Note by W. Somerset Maugham
A Passer-By by Robert Bridges
On a Dead Child by Robert Bridges
Nightingales by Robert Bridges
Renouncement by Alice Meynell
The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson
The Kingdom of God (In No Strange Land) by Francis Thompson
The Soldier by Rupert Brooke
The Hill by Rupert Brooke
The Old Vicarage, Grantchester by Rupert Brooke
Heaven by Rupert Brooke
An Epitaph by Walter de la Mare
The Three Strangers by Walter de la Mare
The Little Salamander by Walter de la Mare
Arabia by Walter de la Mare
The Listeners by Walter de la Mare
The Golden Journey to Samarkand: Prologue by James Elroy Flecker
War Song of the Saracens by James Elroy Flecker
The Old Ships by James Elroy Flecker
Brumana by James Elroy Flecker
Hyali by James Elroy Flecker
Down by the Sally Garden by William Butler Yeats
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats
When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats
To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to a Nothing by William Butler Yeats
That Night Come by William Butler Yeats

ESSAYS
Section II

Note by W. Somerset Maugham
Florence Nightingale by Lytton Strachey
Religion and Science: Old Wine in New Bottles by Julian Huxley
The Last Judgment by J. B. S. Haldane
On the Value of Scepticism by Bertrand Russell
Eastern and Western Ideals of Happiness by Bertrand Russell
A Free Man's Worship by Bertrand Russell
A Night at Pietramala by Aldous Huxley

SHORT STORIES
Section II

Note by W. Somerset Maugham
Mrs. Johnson by Norah Hoult
The Machine Breaks Down by Osbert Sitwell
The Man With the Broken Nose by Michael Arlen
Biography by Martin Armstrong
The Poet and the Mandrill by Martin Armstrong
The Big Drum by William Gerhardi
Pictures by Katherine Mansfield
Psychology by Katherine Mansfield
Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield
The Marquis de Chaumant by Harold Nicolson
Arketall by Harold Nicolson
Lady Into Fox by David Garnett
Louise by Saki (H. H. Munro)
Tobermory by Saki (H. H. Munro)
Esme by Saki (H. H. Munro)

A NOVEL
Note by W. Somerset Maugham
Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley

==========================================

The beginning was a very inauspicious one, namely Joseph Conrad’s “Youth”. It is a short story which is neither short nor a story. In a nutshell, several old sailors are sitting around the table and one of them tells an old story about a voyage in the East, finishing every third paragraph or so with the memorable words “Pass the bottle” – and that in the course of forty pages. All would have been plain sailing if the story itself had not been sufficient for no more than ten pages and if it had not been told in the most careless and affected manner I can imagine. What exactly is it that Joseph Conrad wanted to tell remained a mystery to me. There was something there, perhaps, about the spirit, the freedom and the excitement of youth, but it was completely drown in those incoherent cries “Oh, youth!” and the shoddy narrative dragging for forty (I repeat!) pages what could, and should, have been said in four times shorter length.

In his introduction, Somerset Maugham tells us frankly that there is nothing in this volume that he would not have been happy to have written himself. I cannot for the life of me believe that he could have been happy to have written such a mediocre mess like “Youth”.

Indeed, the beginning was Maugham’s magisterial General Introduction. As with pretty much all of his prefaces and the like, this one is lucidly and wittily written, with lots of fascinating observations and poignant self-revelations. Maugham frankly admits he is neither a critic nor a scholar, but a professional writer and, as such, his choice for the present anthology is necessarily biased. On the other hand, he adds disarmingly, if the publisher wanted “the taste of the one or the learning of the other I should certainly not have been invited to make the selection”. For the avid admirer of Maugham, by far the most priceless parts of this introduction are several extremely personal passages that come more or less out of the blue:

The ablest editor I know is accustomed to say: I am the average American and what interests me will interest my readers; the event has proved him right. Now I have most of my life have been miserably conscious that I am not the average Englishman. Let no one think I say this with self-satisfaction, for I think that there is nothing better than to be like everybody else. It is the only way to be happy, and it is with but a wry face that one tells oneself that happiness is not everything. [...] The accident of my birth in France, which enabled me to learn French and English simultaneously and thus instilled into me two modes of life, two liberties, two points of view, has prevented me from ever identifying myself completely with the instincts and prejudices of one people or the other, and it is in instinct and prejudice that sympathy is most deeply rooted; the accident of a physical infirmity, with its attendant nervousness, separated me to a greater extent than would be thought likely from the common life of others. In my communication with my fellows I have generally felt 'out of it'; in that uprush of emotion that sometimes seizes a crowd so that their hearts throb as one I have been lamentably aware my own keeps its accustomed and normal rhythm. When 'Everybody suddenly burst out singing' as Siegfried Sassoon says in one of the most moving of the poems I have been allowed to reprint in this book, I have always felt exceedingly embarrassed. And when on New Year's Eve people join hands and swinging them up and down to the music, like a nurse rocking the baby, sing lustily Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot, my shivering nerves whisper, yes, please. I cannot then offer this book as the choice of the average man and I cannot say that because these things please me they will please you. If you like me they will please you, and if you don't they won't. Though I do not share many of the prejudices that many people have, I naturally have prejudices of my own, and they will be obvious to anyone who reads this book through.

In this volume there is nothing that I would not have been glad to write myself. Of course I know that there is a great deal that I have not the gift to write. When I was young in moments of passion I used to beat my fists on the writing table and cry, by God, I wish I had more brains; but now, resigned though far from content, I am prepared to make do with what I have.


Now, though such passages are indeed an invaluable window into Maugham’s unique personality, one needn’t agree with everything in them. Indeed, one should not do that, for then the dark shadow of boredom creeps in. Maugham’s claim that if we like him then we’ll like his selections is simply silly. It is nowhere near that simple. Nor, as I have already said, can I believe that Maugham would have been glad to write a mess exercised in verbosity like “Youth”. That said, I enjoyed surprisingly much Conrad’s second story in the volume, “An Outpost of Progress”. It is somewhat verbose of course, but it has a good plot, expertly developed, and fine characterisation.

“An Outpost of Progress” deserves special attention. If you are a critic, you might be tempted to say here is the direct inspiration for Maugham’s “The Outstation”. You might even go further and say that Maugham’s story never would have been written without Conrad’s as a model. This is, to put it mildly, gross oversimplification.

Both stories are concerned with a personal conflict between two colonial officials, but that’s all they share. The differences are enormous, and I don’t mean mundane details like the location (the Far East with Maugham, the Central Africa with Conrad). The nature of the conflict is vastly different. Conrad depicts the disastrous effect of tropical climate and months of complete isolation on an otherwise stable friendship. The personal animosity in Maugham’s story is deeply class-conscious: Mr Warburton is a terrific snob, while the newcomer Cooper doesn’t hide his contempt for such persons; there never has been anything like friendship between them. Not to mention that the tragic ends are completely different. The murder in Conrad’s story happens by a sheer accident, but he doubles it to create a chilling conclusion. Maugham uses only one death, but this is neither accidental nor in need of repetition to give him the opportunity for a typically cynical conclusion.

Indeed, both stories could hardly have been more different in virtually every aspect. One might just as well say that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is very close to, or even served as an inspiration for, Dvorak’s Ninth simply because both works received the same number in the catalogues with works of these two great composers. Any study in similarities between Conrad’s “An Outpost of Progress” and Maugham’s “The Outstation” is really no better than that.

TO BE CONTINUED
3 ääni Waldstein | Nov 11, 2009 |
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (63 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
W. Somerset Maughamensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Bennett, ArnoldAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Conrad, JosephAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Galsworthy, JohnAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Hodgson, RalphAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Huxley, AldousAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Lawrence, D. H.Avustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Masefield, JohnAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Maugham, W. SomersetSelection, Introduction & Notesmuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Wells, H. G.Avustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Woolf, VirginiaAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Yeats, W. B.Avustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
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