those who feel hot for critical certainties. Some of them contain long digressions; the one on the Short Story is a bit of a rag-bag. But one gets through them with such remarkable ease and pace that this matters less than it would in criticism that tries to establish something. To all who enjoy easy and informative literary talk it will give an enjoyable evening; this is Mr Maugham’s true intent, and he fulfils it with all his usual skill.
31 May 1959, 8
Karl Graham Pfeiffer, an American professor, contributed articles to various magazines. He is the author of Somerset Maugham: A Candid Portrait (1959).
Points of view, a collection of five essays mostly on writers and written, its author tells us, as his last word. As Mr Maugham is a man of his word who never speaks carelessly, we must regretfully accept his statement as fact. Maugham’s last book is also an uncommonly good one. True, it is the mixture as before, but the ingredients are better than those from which he fashioned The Vagrant Mood, six essays he wrote when he was only seventy-eight.
The new collection is better than The Vagrant Mood chiefly because it devotes more space to a discussion of writers and Maugham’s special qualification as a critic is his insight into the working of the writer’s mind during the act of creation. He is himself not only a master craftsman but more than most writers a conscious one, well aware of how he gets his effects. He can therefore breathe new life into a tired old masterpiece by focusing attention on some of the problems its author faced and explaining how he solved them. When he recounts plots he is not much more entertaining than the rest of us who engage in that tiresome
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Publication information: Book title: W. Somerset Maugham: The Critical Heritage. Contributors: Anthony Curtis - Editor, John Whitehead - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1987. Page number: 413.
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