Thursday, June 25, 2020

and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore

"The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore."

~  from Of Human Bondage, 1915

Maugham then studied medicine for six years in London. He qualified in 1897 as doctor from St. Thomas' medical school, but abandoned medicine after the success of his first novels and plays.

"I have never pretended to be anything but a story teller. It has amused me to tell stories and I have told a great many. It is a misfortune for me that the telling of a story just for the sake of the story is not an activity that is in favor with the intelligentsia. I endeavor to bear my misfortunes with fortitude." 

from Creatures of Circumstance, 1947

With the outbreak of WW I, Maugham volunteered for the Red Cross, and was stationed in France for a period. There he met Gerald Haxton (1892-1944), an American, who became his companion. Disguising himself as a reporter, Maugham served as an espionage agent for British Secret Intelligence Service in Russia in 1916-17, but his stuttering and poor health hindered his career in this field.

In 1917 he married Syrie Barnardo Wellcome, an interior decorator; they were divored in 1927-8.


Maugham named his daughter and only child, Elizabeth 'Liza' Mary Maugham, after the title character in his first novel  Liza of Lambeth.

Liza center

"He did not know how wide a country, arid and precipitous, must be crossed before the traveler through life comes to an acceptance of reality. It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truth-less ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded."

~ from Of Human Bondage, Ch. 29
Initially titled "The Artistic Temperament of Stephen Carey"

“The writer is more concerned to know than to judge,” 
declares the narrator of Maugham’s novel The Moon and Sixpence (1919)

Guy Hague and Ramana Maharshi

Meditation enables them to go
Deeper and deeper into consciousness,
From the world of words to the world of thoughts,
Then beyond thoughts to wisdom in the Self.

Sharp like a razor's edge, the sages say,
Is the path, difficult to traverse.

~ Katha Upanishad

This is the passage from which the title of Somerset Maugham's book The Razor's Edge was taken. His story traces the spiritual journey of an American fighter pilot traumatized by WWI. The book is apparently based on the life of Guy Hague who had spent time with Ramana Maharshi in Tamil Nadu, India, as did Maugham himself.
Maugham's novels explore the beauty of and intricacy of the fabric of life in-which we are all entwined.