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Old 12-18-2007, 03:58 PM   #1
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Maugham, W. Somerset: Liza Of Lambeth vers 1.0

Wikipedia has this to say about Maugham and this book:

Many readers and some critics have assumed that the years Maugham spent studying medicine were a creative dead end, but Maugham himself felt quite the contrary. He was able to live in the lively city of London, to meet people of a "low" sort that he would never have met in one of the other professions, and to see them in a time of heightened anxiety and meaning in their lives. In maturity, he recalled the literary value of what he saw as a medical student: "I saw how men died. I saw how they bore pain. I saw what hope looked like, fear and relief..." Maugham saw how corrosive to human values suffering was, how bitter and hostile sickness made people, and never forgot it. Here, finally, was "life in the raw" and the chance to observe a range of human emotions.

Maugham kept his own lodgings, took pleasure in furnishing them, filled many notebooks with literary ideas, and continued writing nightly while at the same time studying for his degree in medicine. In 1897, he presented his second book for consideration. (The first was a biography of Meyerbeer written by the 16-year-old Maugham in Heidelberg.)

Liza of Lambeth, a tale of working-class adultery and its consequences, drew its details from Maugham's experiences as a medical student doing midwifery work in the London slum of Lambeth. The novel is of the school of social-realist "slum writers" such as George Gissing and Arthur Morrison. Frank as it is, Maugham still felt obliged to write near the opening of the novel: " is impossible always to give the exact unexpurgated words of Liza and the other personages of the story; the reader is therefore entreated with his thoughts to piece out the necessary imperfections of the dialogue."

Liza of Lambeth proved popular with both reviewers and the public, and the first print run sold out in a matter of weeks. This was enough to convince Maugham, who had qualified as a doctor, to drop medicine and embark on his sixty-five year career as a man of letters. Of his entry into the profession of writing he later said, "I took to it as a duck takes to water."


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