hits counter En un biombo chino - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

En un biombo chino

Availability: Ready to download

Los largos inviernos de 1919 y 1920 fueron el marco en el que se desarrolló el viaje que William Somerset Maugham emprendió por la cuenca del río Yangzi. Más interesado en las gentes que iba encontrando a su paso que en los lugares que visitaba, dio rienda suelta a una naturaleza filosófica y sensible. "En un biombo chino" es la refinada acumulción de los incontables pedaz Los largos inviernos de 1919 y 1920 fueron el marco en el que se desarrolló el viaje que William Somerset Maugham emprendió por la cuenca del río Yangzi. Más interesado en las gentes que iba encontrando a su paso que en los lugares que visitaba, dio rienda suelta a una naturaleza filosófica y sensible. "En un biombo chino" es la refinada acumulción de los incontables pedazos de papel en los que fue tomando notas a lo largo de su periplo por China. Hilados finamente con la sabia ironía de Somerset Maugham, constituyen un conjunto poliédrico de perspicaces esbozos del comportamiento occidental perdido en la rica e inmensa civilización china. Enclaustrados en las estrechas fronteras de su pequeña parcela colonial, misioneros, cónsules, oficiales del ejército y representantes de empresas se ven aquí amablemente ridiculizados en la medida en que se empeñan en seguir viviendo inconscientemente según los patrones marcados por Occidente.


Compare

Los largos inviernos de 1919 y 1920 fueron el marco en el que se desarrolló el viaje que William Somerset Maugham emprendió por la cuenca del río Yangzi. Más interesado en las gentes que iba encontrando a su paso que en los lugares que visitaba, dio rienda suelta a una naturaleza filosófica y sensible. "En un biombo chino" es la refinada acumulción de los incontables pedaz Los largos inviernos de 1919 y 1920 fueron el marco en el que se desarrolló el viaje que William Somerset Maugham emprendió por la cuenca del río Yangzi. Más interesado en las gentes que iba encontrando a su paso que en los lugares que visitaba, dio rienda suelta a una naturaleza filosófica y sensible. "En un biombo chino" es la refinada acumulción de los incontables pedazos de papel en los que fue tomando notas a lo largo de su periplo por China. Hilados finamente con la sabia ironía de Somerset Maugham, constituyen un conjunto poliédrico de perspicaces esbozos del comportamiento occidental perdido en la rica e inmensa civilización china. Enclaustrados en las estrechas fronteras de su pequeña parcela colonial, misioneros, cónsules, oficiales del ejército y representantes de empresas se ven aquí amablemente ridiculizados en la medida en que se empeñan en seguir viviendo inconscientemente según los patrones marcados por Occidente.

30 review for En un biombo chino

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    This book is not a book about travel. It is a book about people, or rather how Maugham viewed people, the people he saw and met as he traveled along the Yangtze River in 1919, right after the First World War. The people he met are predominantly expats, European diplomats and missionaries. This can scarcely be classified as a book about the Chinese or China. Neither is it about the effects of the war. Maugham had a knack for really looking at people, observing what people say, what they mean by th This book is not a book about travel. It is a book about people, or rather how Maugham viewed people, the people he saw and met as he traveled along the Yangtze River in 1919, right after the First World War. The people he met are predominantly expats, European diplomats and missionaries. This can scarcely be classified as a book about the Chinese or China. Neither is it about the effects of the war. Maugham had a knack for really looking at people, observing what people say, what they mean by the words they say, and how they behave. He had also a talent for putting what he observed into words. The two together is what makes him a good writer. He was also extremely well read, and he learned from the authors he read. The book reads as a collection of mini-mini-stories, observations of and comments about people, as explained above, expats residing in China in 1919. His opinions are not openly stated; his views are implied. Ironical humor is a common ingredient. The second chapter entitled The Lady’s Parlour forewarns what will follow. A woman, an expat residing in China, is redecorating her parlor. In doing so, she attempts to avoid all things Chinese; she is attempting to replicate an English parlor. We are told “she had to buy a Chinese screen”, there was absolutely nothing else available that would have fit the spot, but this was not the end of the world because even in England they were frequently used. You must appreciate the humor here! This common theme, the expats’ disdain for all things Chinese, is exemplified over and over again in the stories. We are told that it is nonsensical to learn Chinese since “you could hire an interpreter for twenty-five dollars a month”. We intuit Maugham’s distaste of the expats and their life style. He is critical of the expats’ inability to appreciate what China offers--in beauty, history, knowledge and wisdom. He doesn’t shove his views down your throat though; he speaks through humor; you can take or leave his views as you wish. Occasionally Maugham peppers with descriptions of landscapes and places. In just a few words he captures the atmosphere of a marketplace, an alley, mist over paddy fields, the stiff and ridged resplendence of a diplomat’s reception or an opium den for example. I do wish he had told of his route and given us the names of the places he visited. The names of the people are not given either. The lack of names and places transform the observations into mini-stories. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Richard Mitchley. His performance I have given four stars. He reads clearly and at a perfect speed. I liked this book. It was interesting, but the diverse, very short “stories” could have held together better. We are given a bunch of well depicted observations that reflect Maugham’s personal views. My ratings of Maugham’s books : *Then and Now 5 stars *Mrs Craddock 4 stars *Cakes and Ale 4 stars *The Painted Veil 4 stars *The Verger 4 stars *Liza of Lambeth 3 stars *The Razor's Edge 3 stars *The Summing Up 3 stars *The Gentleman in the Parlour: A Record of a Journey from Rangoon to Haiphong 3 stars *The Magician 3 stars *Up at the Villa 3 stars *Christmas Holiday 3 stars *Catalina 3 stars *On A Chinese Screen 3 stars *Theatre 2 stars *The Moon and Sixpence 2 stars *Of Human Bondage 2 stars *The Merry-Go-Round 1 star

  2. 4 out of 5

    Luís

    On a Chinese Screen is a collection of crafted sketches of Maugham’s trips, reflecting his understanding of China and its people. Altogether, the group of 58 chapters/articles paints an exciting collage of the author’s thoughts and impressions on China.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rose Auburn

    I loved this little book made up of Maugham's observations of characters and life during his Far East travels. In a relatively few paragraphs for each, he manages to convey not only the atmosphere but nature of every character. Despite the fact the book is quite old now, the characterisation was fresh and never felt dated. Many of the character vignettes could equally be applied to society today and were well-observed and, in part, contained the right level of dry humour. Some of the people were I loved this little book made up of Maugham's observations of characters and life during his Far East travels. In a relatively few paragraphs for each, he manages to convey not only the atmosphere but nature of every character. Despite the fact the book is quite old now, the characterisation was fresh and never felt dated. Many of the character vignettes could equally be applied to society today and were well-observed and, in part, contained the right level of dry humour. Some of the people were clearly quite unpleasant and Maugham's gentle and subjective writing never felt superior or sarcastic. Others were somewhat sad and, again, Maugham wrote those with just the right amount of pathos. The descriptive pieces were quite beautiful in their imagery.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    Produced by Dianna Adair, zsak and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)FOR SYRIE Description: Maugham spent the winter months of 1919-20 travelling 1500 miles up the Yangtze River. Always more interested in people than places, he gave full rein to a sensitive and philosophical nature. On a Chinese Screen is the refined accumulation of the countless scraps of paper on which he had tak Produced by Dianna Adair, zsak and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)FOR SYRIE Description: Maugham spent the winter months of 1919-20 travelling 1500 miles up the Yangtze River. Always more interested in people than places, he gave full rein to a sensitive and philosophical nature. On a Chinese Screen is the refined accumulation of the countless scraps of paper on which he had taken notes. Within the narrow confines of their colonial milieu, missionaries, consuls, army officers and company managers are all gently ridiculed as they persist obliviously with the life they know. https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/48788 Opening: THE RISING OF THE CURTAIN: You come to the row of hovels that leads to the gate of the city. They are built of dried mud and so dilapidated that you feel a breath of wind will lay them flat upon the dusty earth from which they have been made. A string of camels, heavily laden, steps warily past you. They wear the disdainful air of profiteers forced to traverse a world in which many people are not so rich as they. A little crowd, tattered in their blue clothes, is gathered about the gate and it scatters as a youth in a pointed cap gallops up on a Mongolian pony. A band of children are chasing a lame dog and they throw clods of mud at it. Two stout gentlemen in long black gowns of figured silk and silk jackets stand talking to one another. Each holds a little stick, perched on which, with a string attached to its leg, is a little bird. They have brought out their pets for an airing and in friendly fashion compare their merits. Now and then the birds give a flutter into the air, the length of the string, and return quickly to their perch. The two Chinese gentlemen, smiling, look at them with soft eyes. Rude boys cry out at the foreigner in a shrill and scornful voice. The city wall, crumbling, old and crenellated, looks like the city wall in an old picture of some Palestinish town of the Crusaders. Luscious snippets, a peek into humanity here, a stifled laugh at the ex-pat there. The most ludicrous is pot-pourri # II: My Lady's Palour. Travel doesn't seem to broaden some people's minds does it! Interesting snapshots but unfulfilling as a read, probably for WSM completists. 2* On a Chinese Screen 5* Of Human Bondage 4* The Razor's Edge 4* The Painted Veil 3* Cakes and Ale WL Up At the Villa 4* Collected Stories 3* Tha Magician 3* Ashenden OH Rain and other stories 3* The Narrow Corner 3* Mrs Craddock TR The Merry-Go Round 2* The Circle 4* The Moon and Sixpence

  5. 4 out of 5

    Suesaroo

    Maugham is amazing - his vision of China in a time where no one dreamed of extensive travel is captivating

  6. 5 out of 5

    Beth (bibliobeth)

    This short book reads more like a series of journal entries than anything else, noting the differences in Chinese society at that time and how Westerners tend to cope with it. These are a series of snapshots into different individuals that could have been sketches for stories themselves. I've only ever read one other Maugham book (Christmas Holiday) which I loved, but I have to admit, I didn't really get on with this book at all. On finishing it, I feel slightly confused over what it was all abo This short book reads more like a series of journal entries than anything else, noting the differences in Chinese society at that time and how Westerners tend to cope with it. These are a series of snapshots into different individuals that could have been sketches for stories themselves. I've only ever read one other Maugham book (Christmas Holiday) which I loved, but I have to admit, I didn't really get on with this book at all. On finishing it, I feel slightly confused over what it was all about, and the only entries I can remember vividly are the ones where he talks about the Chinese labourers or "coolies" as they were known at that time. When he talks about the loads that they carry, and the work that they carry out, I found it quite moving and probably would have preferred to read more about that than missionaries or pompous army officers, no matter how ridiculous he made them. I'm definitely going to read more by Maugham, I have Of Human Bondage coming up fairly shortly and am looking forward to it, but I'm afraid this book wasn't for me. The slightly generous rating I have given it is based on the strength of Maugham's writing and the beauty of his descriptions. Please see my full review at http://www.bibliobeth.wordpress.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul Cornelius

    Surprisingly, this thin volume took longer for me to read than anything else I have ever encountered by Maugham. (I found myself rereading the stories several times and imagining their extensions into bigger tales.) It is a collection of short sketches about Europeans living in China during Maugham's 1920 trip into China's interior. It includes officials, failed businessmen, and displaced seamen and adventurers. But mostly it describes missionaries adrift and isolated in a culture where their fu Surprisingly, this thin volume took longer for me to read than anything else I have ever encountered by Maugham. (I found myself rereading the stories several times and imagining their extensions into bigger tales.) It is a collection of short sketches about Europeans living in China during Maugham's 1920 trip into China's interior. It includes officials, failed businessmen, and displaced seamen and adventurers. But mostly it describes missionaries adrift and isolated in a culture where their futures seem consigned to obscurity and personal failure of one sort or another. Yet it is the setting of the stories that captures the reader's imagination, here. Usually, I have found that Maugham's exotic settings are little more than interchangeable backdrops, against which the inner drives, fears, and lusts of his protagonists are situated. But it is different in On a Chinese Screen. Here, the settings are active, seemingly with a life their own. The backdrop whips the subjects of Maugham's tales into actions that illustrate their misplaced lives and values in a vast Chinese landscape that swallows them whole. And, in the end, each little vignette contains the germ of a greater story waiting to be told. Of course, one haunting thought continues throughout the book. As these Europeans work in China and plan on remaining there throughout their lives, they cannot imagine the ravages of war, both the Chinese civil war and the war against Japan, that would come in just a few years. Among all these missionaries Maugham describes and creates there would have been more than a few Eric Liddells who ended up dying in Japanese internment camps. Or others who found themselves the victims of Communist revenge against European colonialists.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A collection of short-short stories and character sketches of Europeans in early 20th century China. Many of the portraits are pretty scathing, but they are generally pretty humane as well. They range from comic to tragic to, in at least one instance, supernatural, but all are told with Maugham's sardonically polite emotional distance. Easy to read, and worth reading. A collection of short-short stories and character sketches of Europeans in early 20th century China. Many of the portraits are pretty scathing, but they are generally pretty humane as well. They range from comic to tragic to, in at least one instance, supernatural, but all are told with Maugham's sardonically polite emotional distance. Easy to read, and worth reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Val

    These days travellers take photographs. When cameras were less portable or had not been invented, they took a pad and pencils and sketched. Somerset Maugham drew word pictures of the things he saw and people he met which (and who) caught his attention. This book is the equivalent of an album of his holiday snaps. In the preface Maugham says that this is not a book, but the material for a book. The sketches are not arranged by theme and it is difficult to tell if there is any order to them at all. These days travellers take photographs. When cameras were less portable or had not been invented, they took a pad and pencils and sketched. Somerset Maugham drew word pictures of the things he saw and people he met which (and who) caught his attention. This book is the equivalent of an album of his holiday snaps. In the preface Maugham says that this is not a book, but the material for a book. The sketches are not arranged by theme and it is difficult to tell if there is any order to them at all. That is an observation, which affected how I read the book, not a criticism. I found I enjoyed the sketches more if I read just a few at a time. Each one is delightful and deserves to be savoured and enjoyed. You wouldn't eat a box of very nice, expensive chocolates all in one session, would you?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg. The original file is available at Internet Archive. And the audio version is also available at LibriVox.. Free download available at Project Gutenberg. The original file is available at Internet Archive. And the audio version is also available at LibriVox..

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    I enjoyed the glimpses at China Maugham offers us. Living and having travelled around China, I can vividly imagine what Maugham saw with his own eyes. While in some parts the country is rapidly modernizing, in others it hasn't changed at all - the only things not to be found anymore are bound feet, opium dens, and coolies caring the rich in sedan chairs. I enjoyed the glimpses at China Maugham offers us. Living and having travelled around China, I can vividly imagine what Maugham saw with his own eyes. While in some parts the country is rapidly modernizing, in others it hasn't changed at all - the only things not to be found anymore are bound feet, opium dens, and coolies caring the rich in sedan chairs.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Percy

    It was pleasing to have purchased this book in Shanghai and to have read it with the images of Shanghai and Hangzhou fresh in my mind. Maugham captures a good deal of the Chinese culture and, from what I saw of The Bund in Shanghai, the Colonial era in full swing. The work consists of 58 portraits of individuals and their idiosyncrasies and various places. At times, it is difficult to tell whether Maugham is mocking, mimicking, or satirising the various ways in which an air of cultural superiori It was pleasing to have purchased this book in Shanghai and to have read it with the images of Shanghai and Hangzhou fresh in my mind. Maugham captures a good deal of the Chinese culture and, from what I saw of The Bund in Shanghai, the Colonial era in full swing. The work consists of 58 portraits of individuals and their idiosyncrasies and various places. At times, it is difficult to tell whether Maugham is mocking, mimicking, or satirising the various ways in which an air of cultural superiority was practised by foreigners in China. Yet it is fascinating reading, particularly in the context of just having visited Shanghai and noting the extent of its Colonial history in the face of ancient culture.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Cooke

    I hold Maugham in such high regard, and he never lets me down. ON A CHINESE SCREEN is a series of short vignettes based on his observations from a lengthy sojourn in China around 1919. Portraits of Chinese and Westerners of all varieties, and as always acutely observed and possibly slightly embellished. It's reportage, a snapshot in time, of a China that had not existed until that time and which soon no longer existed at all. An absolutely fascinating book. The one sour note comes when Maugham d I hold Maugham in such high regard, and he never lets me down. ON A CHINESE SCREEN is a series of short vignettes based on his observations from a lengthy sojourn in China around 1919. Portraits of Chinese and Westerners of all varieties, and as always acutely observed and possibly slightly embellished. It's reportage, a snapshot in time, of a China that had not existed until that time and which soon no longer existed at all. An absolutely fascinating book. The one sour note comes when Maugham devotes a lengthy paragraph to describing the Great Wall -- oddly, he oversteps and it just doesn't come off at all. All the rest is splendid, though!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Edward Gardner

    Fragmented literary sketches of ideas for a future book. Could also be seen as entries in a travel diary. Some of the stories could stand as a chapter in a book but most would have to be a paragraph in a chapter. Not bad, but some end as abruptly as they started and left me wanting to know more.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Neotony21

    Maugham’s ‘On a Chinese Screen’, first published in 1922, contains 58 vignettes on 152 pages from the perspective of an Englishman (presumably Maugham) traveling through China. The majority of these vignettes describe the circumstances of foreigners living in China in the 1910’s. One demonstration of Maugham’s writing skills is that somewhere in almost all vignettes he provides a colorful personal description of his main character. As two examples : …. Though he was not good looking, his appear Maugham’s ‘On a Chinese Screen’, first published in 1922, contains 58 vignettes on 152 pages from the perspective of an Englishman (presumably Maugham) traveling through China. The majority of these vignettes describe the circumstances of foreigners living in China in the 1910’s. One demonstration of Maugham’s writing skills is that somewhere in almost all vignettes he provides a colorful personal description of his main character. As two examples : …. Though he was not good looking, his appearance was pleasing; he was tall, perhaps a little more than of average height, well covered without being fat, with a fresh complexion inclined …. to be somewhat bloated in the morning…. or ….his air of dignity was heightened by three massive chins. He had a big trunk and an imposing corpulence, so that when he sat at table he sat a little away from it as though he ate under protest….. But for me the most poignant parts of these mini-stories were when Maugham well captured the sense of isolation and loneliness of the Englishmen and women living in China at that time, unable for a variety of reasons to integrate very much into Chinese society, still with fond memories of life in England now far removed, and hemmed in a very small social island in the middle of a Chinese sea.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn Sherman

    This book of "vignettes" took me ages to read! I bought this on my birthday from a shop in Rochester and put it down after a few weeks. They weren't even short stories, they were glimpses of the author's travels in China. Some were only a page or two, the longest was only five pages. They aren't engaging because they aren't even short stories, they are more like sketches of life, but I did find them beautiful and interesting pieces of Chinese culture at this time, around 1919-1920. As always, Ma This book of "vignettes" took me ages to read! I bought this on my birthday from a shop in Rochester and put it down after a few weeks. They weren't even short stories, they were glimpses of the author's travels in China. Some were only a page or two, the longest was only five pages. They aren't engaging because they aren't even short stories, they are more like sketches of life, but I did find them beautiful and interesting pieces of Chinese culture at this time, around 1919-1920. As always, Maugham focuses on the Westerner's experience living in a foreign land and how they cope, because as he traveled in his day, he stayed with missionaries and various people working in business or government. He loves allotting a paragraph to describe each person's physical appearance, which gets boring when you are reading one vignette after another. I'm glad I read this but it's not really a book. It's better to have it on your shelf and read one sketch at a time, when your mind wants to travel to the past.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    These vignettes read as though they were story-starters or character studies jotted down for possible inclusion in longer works. It was pretty easy to recognize several of these people in the local expat community. Here's a choice bit from the text: "...the best use of culture is to talk nonsense with distinction." Chap XVIII Dawn I highlighted some longer passages, but they deserve separate posts. I've only read a couple of Maugham's longer works, and wasn't much engaged by them, but I think I'll These vignettes read as though they were story-starters or character studies jotted down for possible inclusion in longer works. It was pretty easy to recognize several of these people in the local expat community. Here's a choice bit from the text: "...the best use of culture is to talk nonsense with distinction." Chap XVIII Dawn I highlighted some longer passages, but they deserve separate posts. I've only read a couple of Maugham's longer works, and wasn't much engaged by them, but I think I'll give The Painted Veil a go, since I knew better than to watch that horrible looking film version, even though I enjoy seeing Naomi Watts naked.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert Black

    I particularly enjoyed this book, not only because I love Maugham's comfortable style of writing, but also because I myself lived in China for almost a decade, and wrote two books about it myself. This book is a series of short accounts, mainly describing people, and places he came across while traveling around China. The style is as good as one would expect from Maugham, and the words really do take you to those places, in those early times. I am pretty sure near the end he was describing Chongqi I particularly enjoyed this book, not only because I love Maugham's comfortable style of writing, but also because I myself lived in China for almost a decade, and wrote two books about it myself. This book is a series of short accounts, mainly describing people, and places he came across while traveling around China. The style is as good as one would expect from Maugham, and the words really do take you to those places, in those early times. I am pretty sure near the end he was describing Chongqing, a city where two mighty rivers converge, and it amused me to compare my description of the city to his, and conclude that they were similar in many aspects.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I started reading W. Somerset Maugham's On a Chinese Screen on the journey back to Toronto from Niagara Falls. Here, the author presents a series of many vignettes about China, and what life was like there for Westerners. Each piece of the puzzle has been well informed, and whilst some entries are profoundly short, others are much longer character studies, and serve to balance the whole. I was not blown away by the collection, but it does feel rather insightful, and I will certainly be reading m I started reading W. Somerset Maugham's On a Chinese Screen on the journey back to Toronto from Niagara Falls. Here, the author presents a series of many vignettes about China, and what life was like there for Westerners. Each piece of the puzzle has been well informed, and whilst some entries are profoundly short, others are much longer character studies, and serve to balance the whole. I was not blown away by the collection, but it does feel rather insightful, and I will certainly be reading more of Maugham's work in future.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nat Olson

    Spectacular travel writing from an extraordinarily self-aware author who travelled China as authentically as was possible in the late 19th/early 20th century. It is, essentially, 100+ short stories and small biographies of different characters encountered during his travels.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    An astonishingly good and perceptive writer. I enjoyed these tales of a vanished era immensely

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kalle

    Quite interesting collection on brief sketches.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zhenquan Yu

    All I remember is the coolies, a word which has been disappeared for a long time in China. They are people, too.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dana Henson

    Beautiful writing. Sometimes complimentary, sometimes disparaging descriptions of people, art, and places.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter Kalnin

    This book is clearly written by someone who clearly has lived in China, and who has a jeweler's eye to details. Excellent images and stories, but particularly better if one has been an expat in Asia. A great read. This book is clearly written by someone who clearly has lived in China, and who has a jeweler's eye to details. Excellent images and stories, but particularly better if one has been an expat in Asia. A great read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Juanita De Vittorio

    Although the time and technology is different, the foreigners seem to be the same expats I knew while living in China.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stefan Fergus

    Tricky to rate this - as I mentioned in an update earlier tonight, some great but some not so gripping. An interesting (sometimes very interesting), if choppy read. Certainly interested in reading more by the author.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dr.J.G.

    Rain:- This must have been terribly shocking to the hypocritical and pious while being nothing new to those without blinkers, when published first - 20th century was nothing if not one that shredded many such veils of pretension from established societies of west. The story takes place on a voyage in Pacific where a woman of certain profession is having fun along with a few of males around - after all being alone most of their lives far away from home was tough on the guys, and an accommodating Rain:- This must have been terribly shocking to the hypocritical and pious while being nothing new to those without blinkers, when published first - 20th century was nothing if not one that shredded many such veils of pretension from established societies of west. The story takes place on a voyage in Pacific where a woman of certain profession is having fun along with a few of males around - after all being alone most of their lives far away from home was tough on the guys, and an accommodating woman who was not merely paid goods but one with some spirit, some heart and joy, was a blessing. Unfortunately for them there is not merely a usual contingent of the disapproving couples and other respectable members of society but also a preacher very sure and proud of himself, who goes after the woman with denunciation and promised hell fire to all that would consort with her. She is brought to abject surrender and is entirely dependent on him subsequently in her submission to a pious life henceforth. And the preacher is willing to sacrifice himself, to go to her at any hour of day or night she might need him, as his wife very proudly testifies to his selfless sacrifice of his own comforts. The preacher meanwhile has dreams of hills of Nebraska (having read it so long ago I could be wrong about the name of the particular state) - and then one day the preacher is found dead, having committed suicide, while there is sound of phonograph and laughter and dancing from the room of the woman who was trying to reform, and a note of bitter victory. She was sincere in her repentance and her attempt to reform, but the high minded preacher all too fallible and unaware of his own Achilles's heel shared with all life, if not more than a little hypocritical in his imposition of his will and his standards of virtue on all and sundry. .............................................................. (I wish I could remember more of the stories of this collection - but after all, it is well over three decades since I read most of whatever I have read of works of Maugham. Consul sounds very familiar, for instance, but it will take some time to remember it, and perhaps a catalyst as well.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annabelle

    So this is where Maugham mined material for his stories! Old salts, jaded Brits, and wizened Chinese sages are on array here. Some characters, or an amalgam of characters, sound familiar to me, while one, The Taipan, is exactly how I read it the first time, in one of his collections of short stories. A standout article for me was Maugham's meander outside a Chinese city's walls, where he discovers a tower designating a well-type hole in the ground for unwanted babies; he is told four babies have So this is where Maugham mined material for his stories! Old salts, jaded Brits, and wizened Chinese sages are on array here. Some characters, or an amalgam of characters, sound familiar to me, while one, The Taipan, is exactly how I read it the first time, in one of his collections of short stories. A standout article for me was Maugham's meander outside a Chinese city's walls, where he discovers a tower designating a well-type hole in the ground for unwanted babies; he is told four babies have been left just that morning. That an option to slowly lower the babies via a basket tied to a rope, as opposed to just throwing the babies to a quick death, just served to underscore the inhumanity of either choice. Thankfully, his stroll ends on a redemptive note, with a visit to an orphanage run by nuns, where they gladly give him a tour, and happily show him their new arrivals: four newborn babies! This is a book to be enjoyed slowly. It's a combination of Maugham's travelogues of his journey across China, people watching, and sketches of the people he meets on his journey. Naturally, I am partial to the pieces that involve people, especially the ones he's randomly thrown together with. But it is when he writes of romance as I too have come to understand romance where his ecstatic narration makes me absolutely swoon (Filed under Romance, my "professional romancer" waxes romantic on the most unlikely of places and contraptions, and yet this fellow romantic swoons with him). Meanwhile... Ironies abound, at least for me, as I was reading this book. No thanks to the novel corona virus, the Filipinos' Sinophobia is at an all-time high. Paranoia rules, and for good reason: the first reported virus-related death outside of China was on February 2, in the Philippines. And while he died in Manila, he and his girlfriend, who survived despite being the first to come down with symptoms of the virus, had stayed in Dumaguete City for 4 nights.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I enjoyed this book, but because it's not a story but rather vignettes from his travels to China about 100 years ago, each chapter stood alone and didn't flow with the rest. Maugham rarely identified where the story took place, although he mentioned cities like Shanghai, Hankow, and Ichang. The vignettes either were completely descriptive (of someone's home or a temple) or were about an expat (missionary, consul, taipan). Some of the more memorable chapters included one about a doctor who'd been I enjoyed this book, but because it's not a story but rather vignettes from his travels to China about 100 years ago, each chapter stood alone and didn't flow with the rest. Maugham rarely identified where the story took place, although he mentioned cities like Shanghai, Hankow, and Ichang. The vignettes either were completely descriptive (of someone's home or a temple) or were about an expat (missionary, consul, taipan). Some of the more memorable chapters included one about a doctor who'd been in China for 30 years (so he went out in the 1880s) and always thought he'd encounter difficult living conditions. Thirty years later, he's still waiting. His life is quite posh and he's without want. Maugham mentions that he'd like to write about such a character. So I wonder if the doctor from The Painted Veil was modeled somewhat after this character? He also wrote about another expat whose wife habitually cheated on him. Perhaps that character also played a role in the doctor in The Painted Veil? If you're curious about early 20th century China along the Yangtze River, you'll probably enjoy this book. But if you enjoy stories that follow a traditional arc, then I'd recommend going straight for The Painted Veil. It's one of my favorites!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...