The Harsh Lessons of Life in W. Somerset Maugham’s Novel “The Razor’s Edge”

In 1944, amid the bombardment of World War II, the 70-year-old Maugham couldn’t help but recall his life’s experiences and insights.

Born with a physical disability, he witnessed the harshness of the world prematurely; his introverted and sensitive character shaped his keen literary sense.

He had a wealth of experience throughout his life, having been a doctor, a battlefield, and even a spy.

Therefore, Maugham’s works have more or less his own shadow.

“Blade” is no exception. The protagonist Larry’s experiences of participating in World War I, traveling around the world, and studying in India all come from the real-life Maugham himself.

This time, he integrated “I” into the book for the first time, narrating the life journey of the protagonists in the voice of a person in the game.

Larry, an aristocratic young man, saw his friends die trying to save him when he participated in World War I. He became confused about life, gave up his wealth and future, and traveled around the world to explore the confusion in his heart.

At the same time, Larry’s former lovers and friends are also experiencing the pain of life.

Among the fixed issues of life such as separation, love, hate, and sorrow, some people break free and gain success; some people sink into it and fall into the abyss.

After reading their stories, you will understand:

Being moderately cool is the best way to live in life.

Isabel and Larry were a loving couple about to get married.

But after Larry returned from serving in the war, he was a completely different person.

He refused the decent job arranged by his elders, escaping from the fame and wealth that was easily available, and lived alone in a simple rental house, wandering the streets and reading in bookstores all day long.

And his explanation for this is just that “I don’t know my life goal very well and I want to figure out the mysteries of the universe.”

In a circle accustomed to chasing fame and fortune, Larry seemed so decadent and decadent, which also made Isabel deeply uneasy.

For Isabel, money in her hands and a stable and solid job are what she should pursue in life.

The differences in concepts caused the lovers to fall into a stalemate and feel deep pain for each other.

So, Isabel asked Larry to go to Paris for one year to try to find the answer he wanted.

But two years later, Larry has never given a definite reply.

Meeting again, the two candidly exchanged each other’s true thoughts.

Compared with before, Larry despised material things, fame and fortune more and more, and even wanted to spend his whole life pursuing philosophy.

After listening to Larry’s description of the future, Isabel became more convinced that what she wanted was a partner who was progressive in a realistic sense, rather than an idealist who was satisfied with spiritual food.

Under the balance between love and reason, Isabel finally took off her wedding ring in tears and said goodbye to Larry.

Soon after, Isabel married the down-to-earth and hard-working Gray and lived the life she wanted.

And Larry also found the answer in his heart while traveling around the world, and gained peace of mind.

There is a sentence in “Brave New World”:

“In just a few decades of life, the most important thing is not to please others, but to satisfy yourself.”

We must know that others are all passers-by in our lives, and no matter how deep the bond is, it is only a journey together.

In order to cater to others, you may be able to gain temporary appreciation from others, but in the end you will lose yourself.

Life is only a few decades, and you don’t have to live like someone else’s accessory.

What’s more important is to focus on myself, see what I love, know what I think, and do what I want.

Fill yourself with love first and arrange yourself properly, then you can have enough time to take care of others.

Ten years later, Larry returned to his hometown after his trip, only to find that all his former friends were facing difficulties in life.

Gray went bankrupt due to the financial crisis and was unable to recover. Isabel was helpless and lived anxiously.

Sophie, their childhood friend, suddenly suffered an accident, and her beloved husband and son died. She fell into despair and narcotized herself in alcohol and drugs.

Seeing this, Larry decided to save his friends from danger.

He spent several months using what he learned to help Gray get out of the shadows and get back on his feet.

This success made Larry think that he could become the savior of the suffering in the world, and he could also save Sophie in the same way.

He promised Sophie to marry her, and drove away her “boyfriends” who were not well-educated. He stayed with her every day, helped her quit drinking and taking drugs, and also dressed her in fashionable and decent clothes and jewelry, and kept her clean and decent. .

Larry thought that this would be able to pull Sophie out of the abyss of depravity.

However, Sophie, who had a completely new look on her face, still had an indelible sadness in her eyes.

Rather than saying that she was getting better, it was better to say that she was like a puppet on strings, letting Larry play with it.

To make matters worse, Larry’s enthusiasm for Sophie aroused Isabel’s jealousy.

On the eve of their wedding, Isabel deliberately left Sophie alone in the house and placed a bottle of wine in front of her.

Sure enough, as soon as Sophie left Larry’s shackles, she immediately returned to her original form and fell into the embrace of pleasure and indulgence again.

She escaped from the wedding, returned to her absurd life, and put all Larry’s hard work in vain.

Larry failed to understand that his so-called redemption was only painful and awkward for Sophie.

She had no intention of changing, and naturally she would not be grateful for Larry’s efforts. Instead, she just wanted to escape.

Soon after, Sophie was killed by a stranger late at night, and she got her wish for relief and ended her painful life.

Psychologist Jung said:

Don’t even think about changing others. Learn to be like the sun, only emitting light and heat.

Everyone reacts differently to receiving sunlight. Some people find it dazzling, some feel warm, and some even avoid the sun.

In this vast world, everyone has their own challenges, and everyone has their own way of coping.

What you think is a waste of time may be enjoyed by others;

What you think is useless may be someone else’s favorite pastime.

We cannot use our own good intentions to replace the growth of others.

After all, everyone has different experiences and naturally has different thoughts.

Looking on with a cold eye may seem heartless, but in fact it is true kindness.

Don’t try to change other people’s paths, let alone accompany others through their bad lives.

Only by allowing others to experience, grow, and hit the rocks according to their own wishes can others be others and yourself be yourself.

During Larry’s spiritual practice, he also met another woman who had been trapped by love-Susan.

Compared to Sophie, Susan had a lower starting point in life and had a rather rough experience.

Susan’s family was poor, her father died young, and she and her mother lived on relief funds.

Having grown up like this, she naturally has no skills to live with, and has always relied on different boyfriends to survive.

In her first relationship, one year into the relationship, the other person told her that her financial situation was already stretched thin, so Susan wisely understood the hint, packed her bags and left.

In the second relationship, her boyfriend achieved a small success by painting Susan as a model, but he immediately abandoned her and fell into the arms of a wealthy widow. Susan did not make any noise and left the relationship voluntarily.

During several relationships, Susan also fell in love with a boyfriend with all her heart.

He didn’t have much income, so she went out to work but still wanted to stay with him; he made it clear that he wouldn’t be with her for a long time, but she still willingly gave birth to children for him.

However, shortly after Susan gave birth to her daughter, the painter returned to his hometown because he could not bear the poverty, inherited the family’s timber business, and severed contact with Susan.

The painter’s farewell without saying goodbye made Susan grief-stricken. Coupled with her postpartum frailty, she became seriously ill and almost died.

But Susan didn’t wallow in pain for long.

After staying in hospital for three months, she realized that hospitalization had used up all the money left by her boyfriend. Susan took her daughter down the street and knocked on doors, looking for a job to make a living.

When Larry shows up to help her, Susan maintains strict boundaries, neither asking about Larry’s past nor falling in love with him.

Later, Susan began to try to paint on her own, relying on her years of exposure to painters.

It turns out that the artistic accomplishment she has accumulated over the years is already as good as many painters.

This artistic talent also allowed Susan to attract a wealthy businessman who loved art.

When her paintings were recognized by the industry and she was able to attend art exhibitions, the wealthy businessman was truly fascinated by her and formally proposed to her.

The wanderings and hardships in the past finally came to an end, and Susan’s life also ushered in perfection and happiness.

Voltaire once said:

Life is full of thorns, and the only way I know is to step over those thorns quickly.

The more we think about our misfortune, the more it hurts us.

In life, we will inevitably encounter pain and unwillingness.

If we dwell in it, it will hurt us over and over again every time we think about it.

And if you get out as soon as possible, you will find that those deep ditches that you once thought you couldn’t cross are just ordinary shoals.

If the medicine tastes bad, do not drink it aftertaste, rinse your mouth immediately;

Don’t stop on the muddy road, walk quickly;

Don’t recall sad things, forget them in time.

Since we can’t change many things, it’s better to be “kind” and turn the page as soon as possible.

Someone said: “Someone Maugham’s works always gather less and separate more, which is so cruel that it gives people a wake-up call, like waking up from a dream.”

“Blade” is even more so.

The separation of Isabel and Larry makes people understand that they should love themselves first before loving others;

Larry’s failure to save Sophie makes people realize that it is better to respect others than to help blindly;

Susan’s journey of transformation and growth makes people learn to turn the page in time and have the courage to move forward.

Life is alive and energy is limited.

You don’t have to answer to everyone, and you don’t have to worry about everything.

Be more “cold” to the outside world and gather your energy and goodwill in order to properly arrange yourself in the hustle and bustle.

After all, only a strong self is the most stable fulcrum of life.

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