Moon and Sixpence

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  • Topic: W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage, Sadie Thompson
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  • Published : January 3, 2013
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The Moon and Sixpence
   By William Somerset Maugham
  
  Table:
  Ⅰ. A brief introduction to the author
  Ⅱ. Plot summary
  Ⅲ. Comments
   A. The Title
   B. Love Relationships with Three Women
   C. Comparisons between Stroeve and Strickland
   D. Why is it Classic?
   E. Sentences Analysis
  
  Ⅰ. A brief introduction to the author
  William Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965), a famous British writer all over the world. Born in Paris, 1874, Maugham was the sixth and youngest son. His father Robert Ormond Maugham was an English lawyer who handled the legal affairs of the British embassy in Paris, France. His grandfather, another Robert, had also been a prominent lawyer and co-founder of the English Law Society. It was taken for granted that Maugham and his brothers would follow in their footsteps. At the age of 10, he was orphaned and raised by his uncle, Henry MacDonald Maugham. Educated at King’s School, Canterbury, where he was laughed at due to his stammer that he never outgrew. At sixteen, Maugham refused to continue his study at The King's School. His uncle allowed him to travel to Germany, where he studied literature, philosophy and German at Heidelberg University. Later, he was sent to study medicine in St. Thomas’ Medical School, London, but abandoned the major after the success of his first novels and plays.   

  Maugham is a productive writer with over one hundred books, including novels and plays, all high qualified. His stories are told in a clear, economical style with cynical or resigned undertone. In spite of his popularity among readers, he did not receive critical attention for his novels in Britain. Maugham's public view of his abilities remained modest. Towards the end of his career he described himself as "in the very first row of the second-raters."   

  Ⅱ. Plot Summary
  First published in 1919, The Moon and Sixpence is one of the important novels contributing to establishing W. Somerset Maugham’s reputation as a literary master. It fictionalizes the life of Paul Gauguin, gives an account of one Charles Strickland, a middle-class stockbroker in London, who devoted himself to painting after being tired of the dull life. He abandons his wife, two teenaged children without any explanations but slavishly towards Paris to paint.   

  It is indeed a tough time for Strickland to be an artist in Paris. Lodging in some shabby hotels, he suffers from both hunger and from time to time illnesses. Ignoring to the physical discomfort and indifferent to his surroundings, he keeps painting from canvas to canvas following the callings lied in his heart.   

  Strickland is supported by a Dutch painter, Dirk Stroeve, the narrator’s friend, who recognizes his talents at once and insists helping him regardless of his wife’s reject. However, what pays back is that Strickland owns his wife, Blanche who abandons Stroeve for Strickland. Not long after, Strickland discards her who commits suicide later. Stroeve is so sad to bury his wife but he is general all the same treating Strickland.   

  Afterwards, Strickland settles for a short time in the French port of Marseilles. Years passed, the story continues in Tahiti. When he has already died of leprosy, the narrator tries his best to collect the information from others who have once known him. It seems a very enjoyable time for Strickland that he married a native woman named Ata. During the time, he paints profusely and numerous great paintings are created. Before totally losing his sight to leprosy, Strickland draws the last unfinished masterpiece on the walls of his hut, however, after his death, Ata burns the paint according to his dying orders.   

  Ⅲ. Comments
  A. The Title
  To tell the truth, it is my first time to read an English novel. So it is hard for me to make comparisons whether among the fictions written by Maugham or by other writers.   
  When I first read the novel, I was wondered why it was named The...
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