W. Somerset Maugham was one of the seminal writers of the twentieth century, and his travel writing has long been considered among his finest work. Now, acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer maps out a masterful tour of these vivid, evocative pieces that are collected here for the first time.
Maugham worked as a secret agent in Russia, published novels in London, staged plays in New York, and traveled throughout Europe, Asia, India, and the United States, chronicling his travels, wherever he went, with exceptional insight. Beginning with “In the Land of the Blessed Virgin” and culminating in “A Partial View,” Iyer selects vignettes of Maugham’s razor-sharp prose that track his transformation from a boyish traveler in Spain to a worldly man of letters.
This is Maugham at his most keenly observant, direct, and powerful.
“Maugham is a great artist. . . . A genius.” —Theodore Dreiser
“An expert craftsman. . . . His style is sharp, quick, subdued, casual.” —The New York Times
“Maugham has given infinite pleasure and left us a splendour of writing which will remain for as long as the written English word is permitted to exist.” —The Daily Telegraph
“The modern writer who has influenced me most is Somerset Maugham.” —George Orwell
“Maugham remains the consummate craftsman. . . . [His prose is] so compact, so economical, so closely motivated, so skillfully written, that it rivets attention from the first page to last.” —The Saturday Review of Literature
“It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham. . . . He was always so entirely there.” —Gore Vidal