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The Razor's Edge 570 From 1001 Books The Razor’s Edge – William Somerset MaughamThe 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 acuaintances 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 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 Murrayلبه تیغ ویلیام سامرست موام فرزان روز ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش یکی از روزهای سپتامبر سال 1970میلادیعنوان لبه تیغ؛ نویسنده ویلیام سامرست موام؛ مترجم مهرداد نبیلی؛ تهران، سازمان کتابهای جیبی، 1341؛ در 142ص؛ چاپ دوم 1343؛ چاپ سوم، 1345؛ چاپ چهارم، 1349، در 554ص؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی سده 20معنوان 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 پذیرفتن شغل‌هایی که پیشنهاد می‌شود، سر باز می‌زند، و برای یافتن پاسخ پرسشهای خویش، به کتابخانه می‌رود؛ «ایزابل» که پس از دوسال تلاش، نتوانسته «لاری» را از پژوهش دور کند، تهدید به جدایی می‌کند؛ «لاری» جدایی را می‌پذیرد؛ در یک معدن زغال سنگ استخدام میشود، و 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 مختلف 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 18071399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا شربیانی 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 songBut 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 Suare a hub which would have been ironically termed the heart of the cityCause it wasn’t Postmodern cities are uite heartless as their great refabricator Henri Lefebvre used to sayNo the heart of the city was its bookstores this one Classics my fave chain back then and WH Smith Coles Prospero and later Chapters all within that two or three block epicentreBooks 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 readingSince 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 GranddadAnd of course they both passed that on to Mom the village librarian and her beloved childrenMom and Dad had obliuely 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 booksAnd no of course I didn’t actually Read Maugham back then though my parents extolled his sophistication to the skiesAnd 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 geniusAnd 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 outAnd 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 upAnd 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 timesAnd I remembered that I DESPISED myself in my naive twenties for my passive betrayal of that selfWell THIS time I loved the book It was so ME it wasn’t funnyFor 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 LarryNow looking back 15 years later I see the book started an amazing process of Platonic recollection in my soulRemembering all my lost beginnings and roads not taken and straight paths discarded out of hand early on And Virtues shrugged off as uncoolA process that made me come to gradually understand through Larry my OWN SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY Its shaky conception; andIts happy Peace filled conclusionWhere I am NOWThank Heaven and many thanks to you Larry also 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 US 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 acuaintances 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 endThe 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 acuaintance 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 earthuake fever and hostile natives to find an orchid of peculiar rarityElliott 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 uite 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 workAccepting 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 enad 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 itWell you know when people are no good at anything else they become writers I said with a chuckleI have no talentThen what do you want to do?He gave me his radiant fascinating smileLoaf he saidI had to laughIsabel 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 insteadIntersecting 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 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 togetherI'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 youHe knew she was a good sort He was amused at her proposal and she saw he was inclined to acceptI 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 storyCasting 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 eually 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 themTwo 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 themMaugham'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 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 alterationWhen 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 roaringera of wealth naturally some acceptable dissipation occurs by hungry men for the mighty dollar WSomerset 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 MrTempleton 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 bondsLarry 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 lifetimeinstead 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 pastnow decides to go back to Paris for two years to forget and live on his small inheritance Explaining to the not very understanding IsabelThe 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 territorythe mind “ 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 uestions 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 This has to be the most endearing and accessible of Maugham's books With the right smattering of philosophy and literary techniues to keep one challenged tooIt has been one of the defining books in my life 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 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 profoundThe 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 narrativeLarry 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 uest searching for answers to uestions 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 importantly India With the latter destination finally answering some of his uestions 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 1938His 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 The Razor's Edge is a true masterpiece that is among the finest novels ever written about the search for awakening and the meaning of life With a loving girlfriend and the promise of a good career Larry Darrell seems to have everything he could want Yet his life is missing one vital ingredient for he has no sense of purpose During his service on the front in WWI he saw good friends die Now he does not understand why the world can be so violent and cruel Leaving it behind he travels throughout Europe and Asia to search for something meaningful His journey takes him to the Tibetan mountains where he undergoes a spiritual enlightenment When he returns home he is an enigma to his friends but seems perfectly content with himselfNarrated by Frank Muller 9 cds105 hours Rating 425 of fiveThe Publisher Says Intimate acuaintances 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 uintessence 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 itselfMy 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 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 subseuent workA 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 devicethe story told to the narrator by othersvery 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 techniue 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 akin to touring the blue roads of the American countryside than that superhighway journey One of Maugham's three major novels TIME That's high praise coming from TIME magazine This MUST be goodI’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 happenedI 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 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 bookWhat? 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 uite 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

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