//book: The Razor’s Edge // author: W. Somerset Maugham // genre: novel // goodreads
Hello my lovely friends! First off I’d like to mention that I am in Korea right now (this is a scheduled post) and I will not be able to reply to your comments as frequently as I’d like. I’ll still be checking up on my blog often, so don’t forget to say hello!
I picked up this book as a reading assignment for one of my classes. I was able to learn an amazing amount about finding one’s identity, the gift of solitude, and the detrimental effects of monetary objects. This book also showed me the importance of surrounding oneself with wisdom rather than temporary pleasures, status and wisdom. I believe this book really dealt with topics that are pertinent even today.
Synopsis from goodreads:
Intimate acquaintances 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 quintessence 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 itself.
My favorite aspect of this book was how well developed each character was. They all had features that were relateable. They will make you laugh, and cry, astonish you and disappoint you. The writing is almost lyrical, and the plot is simple, yet complex. There is nothing about this book I could complain about as I was enraptured by every page. This book is very much like The Great Gatsby in that the narrator is detached yet very involved.
I love it when I’m able to fall in love with a character and make them my role model. Although I realize the impossibility of becoming the protagonist in this book, Larry, there are so many facets of him I’d love to emulate. The peace and serenity he possess, along with his continence and wisdom. Larry truly is one to be impressed by.
“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.”
See why I love Maughm’s writing? It’s so beautiful, lyrical and compact. Plus he addresses a very important topic. Lately, in my workplace, I’ve been noticing how people are adamantly against change. They believe that happiness stems from permanency and the ability to control every aspect of their lives. Larry’s former girlfriend, wishes for him to be permanent, present and normal. Isabel fails to realize the destructiveness of stability, and trusting in permanency.
“You see, money to you means freedom; to me it means bondage.”
I believe that this quote so perfectly captures one of Larry’s best qualities. Not preoccupied by status and glory like the rest of his friends, Larry grants more value to the deeper aspects of life such as knowledge and peace. His expedition to find the meaning to life, although difficult, eventually becomes the core of his identity and being.
“Unless love is passion, it’s not love, but something else; and passion thrives not on satisfaction, but on impediment.”
I love this unconventional view on love, and throughout the book, this line manifests itself over and over again. I believe this is even pertinent in today’s day and age, and is a concept often overlooked and not understood. Isabel struggles with finding love, especially as she values a comfortable life and status over passion. The way Maughm confronts this crises is unique and refreshing.
The sun shone goldly upon them. Something in Isabel’s immobility attracted my attention, and I glanced at her. She was so still that you might have thought her hypnotized. Her breath was hurried. Her eyes were fixed on the sinewy wrist with its little golden hairs and on that long, delicate, but powerful hand, and I have never seen on a human countenance such a hungry concupiscence as I saw then on hers. It was a mask of lust. I would never have believed that her beautiful features could assume an expression of such unbridled sensuality. It was animal rather than human. The beauty was stripped from her face; the look upon it made her hideous and frightening. It horribly suggested the bitch in heat and I felt rather sick.”
On the topic of love, this is an interesting in that Isabel is painted as a very beautiful, alluring person who has managed to win the hearts of many well accomplished men. This tender moment when she gazes into the man she wasn’t able to marry, would normally be seen as tender and beautiful. However, the disgust the narrator feels illustrates the concept of love and how physical and primitive it is. (Although we hate to think of such a beautiful topic in this manner)
“It’s a long, arduous road he’s starting to travel, but it may be that at the end of it he’ll find what’s he’s seeking.”
Isabel doesn’t understand why Larry could possibly want to leave the comforts of stability and life, and seek wisdom and understanding. To her, the way to live a fulfilled life is to be physically content.Larry, on the other hand, undertakes a journey that could possibly lead him nowhere, yet his aspiration to know and understand truth is beautiful.
This book triggered a lot of thinking on my part, and has helped me to evaluate my values, thoughts and beliefs on love, accomplishments and death. I believe that this book must be read by a mature reader who won’t only appreciate the book for it’s plot. Truly a magnificent book, it’s an amazing read.
Have you read The Razor’s Edge? What character in a book have you tried to emulate in the past? and why? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂