Maugham: Chasing the moon

Use reading as your refuge
William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was originally a blessed child. His father Robert Ormond Maugham was a well-known lawyer who was the legal counsel of the British Embassy in France. Maugham was born in the British Embassy in Paris. Among the four brothers, he ranks among the youngest. When his brothers were sent to study abroad, he became the baby in the arms of his parents.

However, Maugham’s good days did not last long. Just over 8 years old, his mother was killed by tuberculosis. At the age of 10, his father died of stomach cancer. Maugham became an orphan since then. He was brought back to England by his mother’s servant from France to be raised by his uncle Henry Maugham. Henry is a parish priest who is fifty years old. Although the couple has no children under their knees, they did not show much compassion to their nephew. When Maugham was thrown from the prosperous city of Paris to an unfamiliar town in Kent, England, he seemed to have fallen into an ice hole. In addition, he suddenly changed from French to English, and even became stuttered, so that he fell into a life-long stuttering. Of stubborn illness.

Maugham was sent to the Royal College of Canterbury to become a student at the age of 12. Because of his short stature and severe stuttering, he was often ridiculed and bullied by older children and discriminated against by teachers. The most frightening thing is that Maugham also suffered from tuberculosis at this time. Both his mother and only aunt died of tuberculosis, and he was shrouded in the shadow of death.

The changes in his childhood allowed Maugham to see the impermanence of life. At a young age, he was troubled by the meaning of life: “I want to know, is life meaningful in the first place, or must I give it some meaning? , I started to read all kinds of books in a disorderly manner.”

Reading, Maugham tasted the sweetness of reading. “I think reading is one of the many beautiful things in life. It is a kind of enjoyment.” From then on, books have become his best partner, and continuous reading has alleviated his spiritual loneliness.

As I read it, Maugham seemed to feel that his knowledge had grown, his horizons opened up, his mind broadened, his spirit stabilized, and his soul enriched. This led him to discover the magical effect of books: they are not only the elements of spiritual growth, but also the best placebo for happy mood. Maugham said: “Cultivating the habit of reading can create a refuge for you, allowing you to escape almost all the sorrows in the world.”

Maugham has a wide range of books. At first he was hungry and thirsty, like a gluttonous glutton who grabbed anything and swallowed it. Later, he learned to chew with his heart. He felt that every book he read was like a deep exchange of ideas with a knowledgeable person, especially the anecdotes written in the books by the literary masters, let him see The weirdness of the world and the joys, anger, sorrow and joy of the world gave him rich life experience and wisdom, and also comforted his lonely soul.

As I read, there was more ink in Maugham’s stomach, and his stomach, his mind, and every blood vessel and nerve seemed to be full of books. His reading taste has become more critical, and his judgments have become more and more acrimonious. He has commented on the literature, history and philosophy handed down since ancient Greece to the literary masterpieces of European and American countries. He is especially good at picking and uncovering the scars in the works of famous European and American writers. In his eyes, no novel is flawless, and he can accurately point out the mistakes of these writers in their creation. In the book “Masters and Masterpieces”, he introduced his ten greatest works. At the same time, he pointed out the shortcomings in the book and the funny and scandalous aspects of the writer’s character. This allowed Maupassant, Flaubert, and Barr Zach, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Stendhal and other literary giants fell one by one from the altar in his acrimonious ridicule or kind ridicule. So he won the title of “Poison Tongue Maugham”, and some people called Maugham’s poison tongue, Shakespeare’s plays and Dickens’ novels jokingly as the “three treasures” of British literature and art.

Maugham read all kinds of books, and he discovered a kind of thing that everyone needs to support the spirit-philosophy. “I find it very interesting to read philosophy books. Indeed, for people who regard reading as a need and enjoyment, philosophy is the most colorful and fascinating among the various important subjects available for reading.” He once visited. Read the esoteric philosophical works of Schopenhauer, Hegel, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Russell, Nietzsche and other philosophers as novels. Enjoy the happiness: “Only philosophy will never let you down. You can never reach the end of it. It is as colorful as the human soul.”

When talking about reading methods, Maugham said that smart people reading books are like hunting dogs chasing the breath of foxes. They only choose the reading points they are interested in and read in a skipping way. In fact, this method he called “skip reading” is only used by him to deal with works that are less interesting and verbose. Whenever he encounters a boutique, he chews slowly, and tastes it over and over again. For example, after reading Voltaire’s philosophical novel “The Honest Man”, he can no longer forget it. From then on, he takes the Voltaire tree as an example and strives to write masterpieces with a satirical and humorous style with a pen of humanistic care. He said: “Every time I want to write a novel, I have to reread “The Honest Man” and establish a standard in my heart to test whether I write as smooth, elegant, and witty as it is.”

Refining and compressing is also one of Maugham’s good methods for reading. He has repeatedly mentioned the French writer and Nobel Prize winner Anatole France (1844-1924) in the book “Literary Career” that the young king of the East told the wise men of the country to travel all over the world. Find the story of the most valuable book. Maugham said: “This kind of book is also what I want to find. I only need to read one to solve all doubts. Once so, I will be able to create my own form of life with all my strength.” Picking and picking, hoping to find a book that can be done once and for all, but failed to do so. Therefore, Maugham decided to start his own stove and write a book that was pleasing and pleasing to himself.

Chase the moon
When Maugham was 18 years old, he started looking for a career to settle down. But what should I do? He was born in a family of lawyers. His grandfather, father, and three brothers were all lawyers, but he did not want to follow in their footsteps. Uncle Henry, who oversaw his life, hoped that he could succeed him as a pastor. Maugham refused on the pretext of stuttering, but he still succumbed to another suggestion of his uncle—to study medicine.

In 1892, Maugham entered the St Thomas College of Medicine in London to study medicine, and was qualified as a surgical practitioner five years later. For a while, he worked as a midwife in the department of gynecology, often carrying medicine boxes on the streets to deliver babies. This enabled him to see the hard life of the working people from the lower strata, the fragility of life, and the impermanence and helplessness of life. This puzzled him: a person who was born, went to school, worked, married, had children, and finally died, was always confined and walked a simple circle on a fixed line. And is this life that consumes only one’s life in the established routine worth living? Maugham doesn’t want to follow the trend, he wants to design a comfortable life for himself.

However, Maugham found that “only artists and professional criminals can independently determine their own behavior and their own lives.” Among artists, a writer is a freelancer who can easily display his creativity and independently determine his life mode. So Maugham had a dream of being a writer and began to write novels in his spare time.

In 1897, 23-year-old Maugham completed his debut novel “Lisa of Lambeth”. “In those three weeks, I participated in 63 deliveries in total. This is the material I used for this book.” The story in the book is taken from his experience at work: beautiful female worker Lisa and widow mother live in a slum , The poor life failed to change her lively and cheerful personality, so she became the target of men’s pursuit. However, the handsome man she fell in love with was a married rascal, who eventually caused Lisa to die when she was pregnant and had a miscarriage. After the novel was published, it received a lot of praise, so Maugham decided to abandon medicine and become a professional writer.

The threshold of the literary palace is very high. It is common for people who hope to feed themselves by writing novels to be hungry before they become famous, so people often regard writing as a useless beggar. Maugham is no exception. In the first 10 years, he always stayed behind closed doors. It wasn’t until 1908 that he got a chance: a famous actor in the London theater saw a role in Maugham’s script, so he played the comedy “Mrs. Frederick” that was rejected by 18 theaters five years ago. And it became an instant success, it made the playwright Maugham famous overnight. Subsequently, his “Jack Straw”, “Mrs. Dutt” and “The Explorer” were also staged simultaneously in many theatres in London. The playwright Maugham was comparable to Bernard Shaw, who was popular at the time. Fortune came in and Maugham was lifted out of poverty.

In 1915, Maugham published the autobiographical novel “The Shackles of Human Nature”, which tells the story of the protagonist Philip trying to get rid of the shackles of life and seek a way out. This novel was widely acclaimed, which laid the foundation stone for Maugham to become a great writer. He was 41 years old this year.

Maugham likes an elegant and comfortable life, but he prefers to pursue an interesting life. He did not get stuck in a comfortable nest, but kept chasing the moon and became a senior traveler. In order to seek different landscapes, he has traveled all over the three continents of Europe, Asia and America. Wherever he goes, Maugham will keep a detailed record of the beautiful scenery, social conditions and customs there. Most of his creative materials are what he saw and heard during his travels, such as “The Moon and Sixpence”, “On the Screen of China”, “The Veil”, and “The Blade’s Edge” and many other novels based on his work in Europe, America, the Far East, India, and China. Even the experiences of the islands in the South Pacific are created from materials and have a strong exotic flavor.

After the outbreak of World War I, Maugham joined the French Red Cross, worked as an ambulance driver on the Western Front, and traveled as a writer to Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland to collect military intelligence. After that, Maugham was appointed by the British military to become a spy stationed in Switzerland and Russia. He once created a series of conspiracy novels with “Ashingdon” as the main character, but it is said that his old friend Churchill believed that half of the works involved state secrets and would not be published.

Maugham has been on the road all his life. He said: “There is only one life, I want to do as many things as possible…. I want to set a life for myself, of which creation is certainly an important part, but I also have to engage in various other activities that are beneficial to people. Till death draw me a full stop.” For this full stop, Maugham was not lost in money, and there was a round of “bright moon” in his heart. In his novel “The Moon and Sixpence”, he divided life into two realms: the moon and the penny. The moon is the ideal of life, and the penny is real life. “There are six pence all over the floor, but he (referring to the protagonist Strickland) looked up and saw the moon.” That moon was indeed charming. Not only did it capture Strickland’s soul, it was essentially Mao. Mu himself has exhausted the ultimate goal pursued in his life.

Short stories-unique snacks
Maugham is best at short stories, and he is recognized as a master of short stories. The ink he drank into his stomach was self-fermented to create a special flavoring agent. The joys, sorrows, sorrows, joys and sorrows of the world were mixed with the ups and downs to produce stories about love, fairy tales, adventures, spies, suspense, and humor. Private kitchens with different colors and flavors and exquisite knife skills.

For example, in the short story “Lunch”, “I”, a young writer who can’t fill his stomach, was introduced to a high-end restaurant by a pretentious and gluttonous woman in the name of talking about literature and ate food for a month. . The readers couldn’t help but feel sad when seeing the shy young writer in his pocket when he was emptied of his wallet by a series of expensive delicacies.

“Turning in Distress” is a spicy thin dish with needles in cotton. At the beginning of the story, the author described in detail the feeling left by the wealthy businessman Burton Hyde from his appearance to his words: kindness and kindness. However, when his friend Lai Nei was unable to survive and asked him for help, he knew that Lai Nei was physically exhausted, but asked Lai Nei to offer him a job by swimming across the turbulent river near the lighthouse, and eventually his friend was buried in the sea. He also explained it to others as an interesting story with peace of mind. From this we can see how cruel and cruel the heart of this seemingly charitable businessman is!

Another novel by Maugham, “Lord Mounttrago”, is even more unique. It tells the story of the treatment of mental illness by the diplomat Lord Mounttrago. The novel does not talk about the patient’s condition at the beginning, but slowly introduces the image of the psychotherapist Doctor Odrin:

He is less than 50 years old, but he looks much older. A pair of big light blue eyes are always drowsy. If you stay with him for a while, you will find that these eyes are almost motionless, just staring at your face all the time, but even though they are so empty, they are also It will not be uncomfortable. They almost never flicker, never reveal clues about his thoughts… His hands are quite large, and his fingers are thin and long. These hands are soft but firm, cold and dry.

It was his unique eyes and cold hands that comforted all kinds of psychopaths and allowed them to spit out the secrets hidden in their hearts obediently, thus obtaining inexplicable curative effects. As his reputation grew, more and more people asked him to heal his illness. “People tell him secret secrets, sometimes they can’t wait, sometimes they answer in shame, sometimes they stop talking, and sometimes they are angry. He’s already at peace. Nothing can surprise him anymore.” But when he met the patient mang. Lord Trago’s time was not going well. However, under his observant eyes, the arrogant foreign secretary finally took off his mask and told the bizarre nightmare that had tortured him crazy for days…The ending of the story was unexpected and he faced a mental breakdown. Of patients committed suicide when the effect was first shown. What is even more bizarre is that the enemy that Lord Muntrago wanted to kill in his nightmare every night-Labor MP Griffiths also died on this day. Could it be that this dream murder case really had an effect? The psychiatrist Odlin also suffered a nervous breakdown by this coincidental medical record. The seemingly absurd and bizarre stories disclosed in the novel truly reflect the cruel struggle of the British upper class at that time.

Maugham has a unique insight into love and a special fear of marriage. He didn’t get married until he was 43 years old. The love and marriage stories he wrote are unique and humorous. For example, in the novel “Escape”, the absconder is not a criminal who has caused some catastrophe, but a man Roger who tries to abandon his lover. “I have always been convinced that once a woman makes up her mind to marry a man, the only way to survive this man is to escape immediately.” Maugham told the story of his friend Roger Charing’s escape from the marriage trap. The process: First fled for more than a year, but when he returned, he was immediately entangled by his lover. So he changed his strategy, using the excuse of getting married after finding a good house, he showed his lover one house after another, but there are always various reasons to delay the excuse. When Ruth couldn’t bear it and claimed to give up marrying him, Roger also said that by looking at a few good listings, he would be able to pick out the ideal house for marriage. This story makes those who have a bitter experience of love and marriage still have a spicy aftertaste after laughing.

Novels-hard dishes with a long taste
Maugham wrote 20 full-length novels in his lifetime, mostly with life as the theme. The most popular among readers are the “Trilogy of Life”-“The Shackles of Human Nature”, “The Moon and Sixpence” and “Blade”.

In 1915, Maugham used the protagonist Philip’s rough life to explain Rousseau’s famous saying: “Born to be free, but omnipresent in the shackles.” In this novel, regarded as an autobiography, Maugham used the rough life of the protagonist to explain Rousseau’s famous saying In the novel, Maugham’s protagonist Philip is an orphan, plagued by lame birth, family misfortune, limited talents, religious constraints, lack of money, and love teasing. These experiences are basically based on Maugham’s early life. The difference between the two is only to change Maugham’s stuttering to lame. In order to break free of these natural, family and social shackles that destroy life and distort human nature, Philip has struggled with fate all his life, trying to find a way out, hoping to make the fragile life shine under the philosophical view.

“The Moon and Sixpence” (1919) was created by Maugham while traveling on the islands of the South Pacific. The protagonist in the book, Strickland, is modeled after the painter Gao Gu. In order to pursue the dream in his heart, break through the rule of life, and seek the comfort of the soul in art, Strickland, who has entered the age of confidence, does not hesitate to abandon his wife and children, and bid farewell to his home and business that he has run for 17 years. , After all the hardships, came to live in Tahiti in the South Pacific, and finally created a series of stunning works. When readers read the story of this stubborn painter, they realized Maugham’s conclusion: “The moon is the lofty and unreachable dream, and sixpence is the humble income that has to be earned for survival. How many people just look up timidly? Take a look at the moon, and continue to lower your head to chase the sixpence that feeds on…”Among all living beings, how many people dare to abandon everything and chase the moon?

In “Blade” (1944), Maugham’s protagonist Larry Darrell is a young American pilot who participated in the First World War. In an aerial battle, his friend sacrificed to cover him. This shocked Larry. He couldn’t understand why there are evils and misfortunes in the world. Since then, he has been entangled in his mind with the question: “People live to the end. What is it for? Is there any meaning in life, or is it to be sadly at the mercy of fate?” In order to find a satisfactory answer, Larry left everything after he was demobilized and started wandering around. Sailor, go to the monastery to experience spiritual life… Explore the meaning of life through various ways. Later, he enlightened life through the enlightenment of the Vedas in India: “All the beautiful and valuable things that we cherish in this world can only coexist with the ugly things.” “Since certain things are impossible To avoid, one can only do his best.” After reading “Blade”, many readers said that they did not understand where the author’s “blade” was pointing or what it meant. It turned out that the name of the novel was taken from the ancient Indian classic “Gato Upanishad”: “The edge of the razor is extremely sharp, and those who want to pass are all hard; it is the common saying of the wise man, and the way of redemption is difficult.” This profound ancient Indian philosophy You need to chew repeatedly to get the essence of it.

Maugham’s novels all have a common feature, that is, they contain a strong sense of humanity. When he is narrating various stories about family relationships, love, friendship, world relations, etc., the text in his pen is sometimes gentle, sometimes humorous, sometimes ridiculed, sometimes ridiculed, sometimes ridiculed, with witty words and epigrams, just like a chef cooking a meal and exhausted. After using methods such as frying, frying, etc., he has not forgotten to use the anise of human nature to make his works. In the concept of human nature, he is neither a good person nor a evil person. He believes that human nature is complex and multi-faceted, good and evil are inclusive, humble and great, kind and vicious, love and hatred, and can coexist without exclusion. In my heart, the world is full of love, hatred, and all right and wrong.

Interesting soul in biography
In 1938, the 64-year-old Maugham felt that he had little future, so he wrote a “Summary: Maugham’s Writing Life Memories”. He said in the preface: “I wrote this book to liberate my soul from certain ideas that lingered in my soul for so long that it made me feel uncomfortable.” Although he claimed that “this book” It is neither an autobiography nor a memoir”, but readers still read this book as his autobiography. Maugham, who was ready to pass away at that time, never thought that he would live a long life, and continued to work hard until 1962 when he was 88 years old, he even published a commentary “My Favorites”.

Maugham’s writings are equal, but the honor he expected did not arrive as expected. Not only did he fail to rank among literary masters, but he was often ridiculed by critics. When “Blade” was published, Maugham was in his seventies and should be enjoying his twilight years. However, the contempt and indifference towards him in the Anglo-American literature community has not changed. Edmund Wilson, the most influential American critic, listed Maugham. In the “second-rate”, Maugham jokingly said: “I am at the forefront of second-rate writers.” Of course, some people say that Maugham is a best-selling author rather than a classic writer. Both his frivolous attitude and his extravagant lifestyle have been criticized by intellectuals. However, his novels have been selling well in many countries around the world, and his dramatic works have been staged in Europe and the United States over the years, which shows that readers and audiences love Maugham.

Maugham is very old and productive. Since publishing his virginity in 1897, until he was 88 years old, he wrote 150 short stories, 32 plays, 20 novels, 5 essays, 3 travel notes, 3 commentaries and 1 biography. Nearly a hundred works were later adapted into movies. In the eyes of the world, Maugham’s life is a success. He gained the freedom he expected through writing, did what he wanted to do, and lived the life he wanted to live. He not only got rid of the poverty of his early years, but also became a rare millionaire in the literary world. Because of the money, he established the Maugham Prize in France in 1946 to support and help outstanding young writers. On his 80th birthday, the British Carrick Literature Club specially hosted a banquet to celebrate his birthday. This kind of glory has only been enjoyed by the three writers of Dickens, Thackeray and Trolop in the history of English literature. On December 16, 1965, Maugham died in France at the age of 91. In his later years, Maugham said this: “The only thing I can be sure of, maybe I can’t be sure of anything.”

Maugham refused to write biographies for him during his lifetime, and expressed an extremely unfriendly attitude towards several authors who wrote biographies for him. After the death of Maugham, various biographies of Maugham were published. Just like Maugham likes to take people out of his life, these biographers all imitated Maugham’s skills in the process of writing Maugham’s biography, took off his veil, dug into his secrets, and revealed the beauty of his life. The scandals are all included in the biography, so that his life and many faces are presented to the readers. For example, Ted Morgan listed his experience as:

A lonely child, a medical school student, a creative novelist, a bohemian prodigal son in Paris, a successful West End dramatist, a British socialite, and a living in Flanders during the First World War A frontline ambulance driver, a British spy who sneaked into Russia to work, a homosexual, a husband who had an affair with someone else’s wife, a diligent master of a contemporary celebrity salon, a propagandist during World War II, and a since Dickens The novelist with the most readers, a legend who relies on cell tissue therapy to stay alive, and a stubborn old man who tries to prevent his daughter from inheriting property and adopts his lover’s secretary.

And Hastings tightly grasped Maugham’s secrets, shaking to reveal a bunch of gossip anecdotes. And so on. And Maugham, who sleeps underground, no longer needs to struggle with the reputation or ruin in these biographies, which seems to fulfill his early wish: to be an interesting person. He gave readers a strong taste when reading his biography.