HemGrupperDiskuteraMerTidsandan
Sök igenom hela webbplatsen
Denna webbplats använder kakor för att fungera optimalt, analysera användarbeteende och för att visa reklam (om du inte är inloggad). Genom att använda LibraryThing intygar du att du har läst och förstått våra Regler och integritetspolicy. All användning av denna webbplats lyder under dessa regler.
Hide this

Resultat från Google Book Search

Klicka på en bild för att gå till Google Book Search.

Laddar...

Magikern : Roman (1908)

av W. Somerset Maugham

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7901420,601 (3.46)43
Maughams enchanting tale of secrets and fatal attraction "The Magician" is one of Somerset Maughams most complex and perceptive novels. Running through it is the theme of evil, deftly woven into a story as memorable for its action as for its astonishingly vivid characters. In fin de sicle Paris, Arthur and Margaret are engaged to be married. Everyone approves and everyone seems to be enjoying themselvesuntil the sinister and repulsive Oliver Haddo appears.… (mer)
  1. 00
    Piranesi av Susanna Clarke (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Aleister Crowley-esque figure
Laddar...

Gå med i LibraryThing för att få reda på om du skulle tycka om den här boken.

Det finns inga diskussioner på LibraryThing om den här boken.

» Se även 43 omnämnanden

engelska (13)  spanska (1)  Alla språk (14)
Visa 1-5 av 14 (nästa | visa alla)
Somerset Maugham is one of my favorite authors and I really don't understand why he is not more widely read. My father always told me to read him. I have in my book collection a very old collection of his short stories that I got from my mother. Their generation appreciated him and I have heard that he was immensely popular in the 30's and 40's. Why not so much any more? "The Razor's Edge" is every bit as good as "The Sun Also Rises" and more complex. "Of Human Bondage" is a masterpiece. His short stories are amazing. I have been reading my way through his works and then came to "The Magician" and had my mind blown because I really wasn't expecting a great literary writer to write a gothic thriller.

Somerset Maugham knew Aleister Crowley. And didn't like him at all. He apparently wasn't a very likeable guy. Being "the most evil man in the world" must have been quite a burden, what with planning human sacrifices, raising the dead, summoning demons, and basically being an arrogant and destructive person to everyone around you. I will admit that I kept hearing Ozzy sing "Miiiister Crowwley" every time he appeared in the story. That's probably just me.

As much as I make light of it, Oliver Haddo (Crowley) is one of the most evil and repulsive villains I have ever encountered. Crowley however, reported that he was quite flattered, which is amazing considering how repulsive the character is. It might have to do with the fact that while Haddo is repulsive, he is also quite powerful and capable of terrible evil. His magic is real and deadly. There's also that "there's no such thing as bad publicity" concept.

The first half to two thirds of the book was classic Maugham. Realistic characters confronted with a repulsive braggart whose level of offense rises with each meeting. You just find yourself squirming with how uncomfortable it all is, especially to prim and proper English folks. As good as this was, with classic Maugham witty reparte, the novel suddenly leaves the real world behind and turns into a straight out gothic thriller that is as good as any that I have ever read. Exciting. Gory beyond anything I was expecting. And so dark. I would put it up there with Dracula--except that Maugham is 100 times the writer than Stoker.

I think that Maugham had fun writing something that probably scared and repulsed quite a few readers of the day and had the added advantage of roasting someone he didn't care for. It went through several printings so it must have been popular also.

The edition I read has an introduction by Maugham that explains the history behind the book and his relationship with Crowley, who he describes as being just like Haddo without the magical abilities.

Great book.



( )
  ChrisMcCaffrey | Apr 6, 2021 |
Readers of H. P. Lovecraft may find this interesting.
  jayemtii | Jul 1, 2019 |
W. Somerset Maugham

The Magician

Vintage Classics, Paperback [2000]

12mo. xi+233 pp. “A Fragment of Autobiography” for The Collected Edition, 1956 [v-xi].

First published by Heinemann, November 1908.
Vintage Classics edition, 2000.

====================================================

This novel, an early experiment in both style and content, enjoys much greater popularity than it deserves. It is currently 7th by number of copies and 9th by number of reviews on this site. It has more copies than very fine mature novels such as The Narrow Corner (1932) or Christmas Holiday (1939); it leaves even farther behind Mrs Craddock (1902), the finest among Maugham’s early novels. It has more reviews than Theatre (1937), a mature Maugham far superior in every possible way, and as many as non-fiction masterpieces like The Gentleman in the Parlour (1930) and The Summing Up (1938) taken together. It is still kept in print by Vintage. It has been included even in Penguin Classics, a rare blunder in this otherwise admirable series. All this does Maugham a great disservice.

The Magician was the eighth and last of Maugham’s early novels. Ironically, when it was first published in November 1908 he could not have cared less about it. In the meantime he had become the most celebrated playwright in London. One of his early plays, Lady Frederick (1903), was staged on 26 October 1907 just to fill a gap of few weeks. It ran for 422 performances! On the next year, Maugham’s annus mirabilis, three more of his plays were produced in quick succession: Jack Straw (26 March 1908), Mrs Dot (26 April 1908) and The Explorer (13 June 1908). The last was a flop with only 48 performances, but the other two managed 321 and 272 shows respectively.

For one or two months in 1908, Maugham had four plays running simultaneously in London – a stunning achievement that even Bernard Shaw had not been (and would never be) able to match. Punch went one better with their famous caricature showing Shakespeare biting his nails in front of a whole wall with posters of Maugham plays[1]. Certainly, Maugham’s life was never the same again. In “A Fragment of Autobiography”, one of the finest in a long list of great introductory essays, he wrote about his spectacular success with typical modesty. Note, in the end, the exact reference to money and the unexpected insight into the writer’s mind:

I do not remember what success, if any, my novel had when it was published, and I did not bother about it much, for by then a great change had come into my life. The manager of the Court Theatre, one Otho Stuart, had brought out a play which failed to please, and he could not immediately get the cast he wanted for the next play he had in mind to produce. He had read one of mine, and formed a very poor opinion of it; but he was in a quandary, and it occurred to him that it might just serve to keep his theatre open for a few weeks, by the end of which the actors he wanted for the play he had been obliged to postpone would be at liberty. He put mine on. It was an immediate success. The result of this was that in a very little while other managers accepted the plays they had consistently refused, and I had four running in London at the same time. I, who for ten years had earned an average of one hundred pounds a year, found myself earning several hundred pounds a week. I made up my mind to abandon the writing of novels for the rest of my life. I did not know that this was something out of my control and that when the urge to write a novel seized me, I should be able to do nothing but submit. Five years later, the urge came and, refusing to write any more plays for the time, I started upon the longest of my novels. I called it Of Human Bondage.

As this quote shows, what Maugham wrote about The Magician is much more interesting than the novel itself. Apart from the 1956 “Fragment”, he also discussed the novel in the 1934 Preface to Liza of Lambeth (1897), a lengthy piece that also served as a preface to The Collected Edition published by Heinemann from 1934 onwards. Maugham provides plenty of fascinating background and explains why the novel was not worth reprinting 26 years later:

The last of the novels I have written which also finds no place in this edition is The Magician. It is the only one about which I have hesitated. I took great pains over it and spent much time in getting together the materials. The principal character was suggested partly by the portrait of Alessandro del Borro in the Museum at Berlin and partly by an acquaintance I made when I was spending a year in Paris. This was a singular man and fantastic stories were told about him in the Latin Quarter. I do not know how sincerely he believed in the black art he was said to practice, but what I heard about him sufficiently excited my imagination to give me the subject of my book. I read the works of Eliphas Levi and devised a story melodramatic enough to serve as a frame for the outrageous and bombastic creature of my fancy. But the book would never have been written except for the regard I had for Joris Karl Huysmans who was then at the height of his vogue. I do not suppose that anyone could read Là-Bas now with more than a languid interest, but at that time it seemed suggestive and mysterious. It had a palpitating horror that many found strangely fascinating. It was a new sort of shocker written in a curious, vivid and unusual French. I suppose Huysmans’ three most important works will be remembered for some time as a picture of a certain side of French feeling at a certain period. Their influence on current literature, though ephemeral, was wide-spread. But Huysmans had a cardinal advantage over his imitators: he sincerely believed what he wrote. He was a man insanely superstitious who was convinced of the real existence of the maleficent powers of which he treated. He lived in craven terror of spells, charms and incantations. To me it was all moonshine. I did not believe a word of it. It was a game I was playing. A book written under these conditions can have no life in it. This is the chief reason that has induced me to omit The Magician from this selected edition of my writings.

Another twenty-two years later, in 1956, Maugham had changed his mind – or had simply yielded to the publisher’s persistent demands – and decided to reprint the novel in The Collected Edition[2]. This is our gain as it led to the writing of “A Fragment of Autobiography”, although I’m not so sure Maugham would have agreed had he known that one day The Magician would eclipse many of his better novels.

The Magician is unique in Maugham’s complete output. It is the only horror novel he ever wrote. He did use sinister supernatural elements in some of his finest stories, most notably in “P. & O.” (1926) and “Lord Mountdrago” (1940), but never again tried the experiment in a full-length novel. The horror elements in The Magician were actually my major reason for this re-reading. I was curious to compare it with Dracula (1897). And it was an antidote and a pleasure to read a lucid prose with a strong authorial voice after the affected but anonymous pomposity of the grossly overrated vampire classic. Maugham at his worst is still better than Bram Stoker at his best.

Besides a wealth of detail about Maugham’s years of struggle, including his Parisian life in 1904-5, “A Fragment of Autobiography” contains an amusing portrait of Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), the all-around crackpot who served as a model for the character of Oliver Haddo, the eponymous magician. Much like the novel, but even more so, Crowley continues to enjoy popularity quite out of proportion to his merit. This was boosted in no small measure by the rock legends of the 1960s and the 1970s. The Beatles included Crowley on their famous cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Jimmy Page, the guitar magician from Led Zeppelin, was quite smitten with Crowley’s occultist nonsense. Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath’s original singer from 1969 to 1978, dedicated the finest song from his solo career to “Mr. Crowley” (1980). Ozzy, however, was not fooled:

Mister Crowley
What went on in your head?
Oh, Mister Crowley
Did you talk to the dead?
Your lifestyle to me seems so tragic
With the thrill of it all
You fooled all the people with magic
Yeah, you waited on Satan’s call

Mister Charming
Did you think you were pure?
Mister Alarming
In nocturnal rapport
Uncovering things that were sacred
Manifest on this earth
Ah, conceived in the eye of a secret
Yeah, they scattered the afterbirth

Mister Crowley
Won’t you ride my white horse?
Mister Crowley
It’s symbolic, of course
Approaching a time that is classic
I hear that maiden’s call
Approaching a time that is drastic
Standing with their backs to the wall


Maugham was not taken in, either. He confessed an immediate dislike of Crowley’s boastful posturing, but “he interested and amused me.” Considering that he was a man most hard to impress, Maugham is not unappreciative of Crowley’s diverse talents: “He was a great talker and he talked uncommonly well. [...] He had fine eyes and a way, whether natural or acquired I do not know, of so focusing them that, when he looked at you, he seemed to look behind you. He was a fake, but not entirely a fake.” Even Crowley’s poetry (does anybody read that stuff today?) receives a polite nod from Maugham:

Crowley was a voluminous writer of verse, which he published sumptuously at his own expense. He had a gift for rhyming, and his verse is not entirely without merit. He had been greatly influenced by Swinburne and Robert Browning. He was grossly, but not unintelligently, imitative.

Maugham saw Crowley several times that winter in Paris, always in a restaurant on the Rue d’Odessa where people with artistic pretensions gathered together and argued passionately, but never again after he returned to London in May 1905. Once he heard from him, though. It was a telegram that ran as follows: “Please send twenty-five pounds at once. Mother of God and I starving. Aleister Crowley.” Maugham was not to be pinched so easily: “I did not do so, and he lived on for many disgraceful years.” To finish with Crowley, for he hardly deserves that much attention, it must be repeated that he was merely the starting point for Maugham’s character:

Though Aleister Crowley served, as I have said, as the model for Oliver Haddo, it is by no means a portrait of him. I made my character more striking in appearance, more sinister and more ruthless than Crowley ever was. I gave him magical powers that Crowley, though he claimed them, certainly never possessed. Crowley, however, recognised himself in the creature of my invention, for such it was, and wrote a full-page review of the novel in Vanity Fair, which he signed ‘Oliver Haddo’. I did not read it, and wish now that I had. I daresay it was a pretty piece of vituperation, but probably, like his poems, intolerably verbose.

We are privileged to be able to read something which Maugham didn’t. It’s a waste of time, though. Crowley’s review[3] is not even a “pretty piece of vituperation”. In fact, it is uncommonly dull. He makes a good case, illustrated with plenty of quotes, that Maugham shamelessly plagiarised some profound volumes on black magic. As if it mattered!

There is not much to say about The Magician as a novel. And Maugham, again, has said most of it better than anybody else could. He was by far his own best critic, for one thing. And, for another, he always wrote about himself and his books with just the right blend of humility and self-assurance. As he perfectly put it in the 1934 Preface mentioned above: “I do not think that I attach an exaggerated value to my works. I know their defects better than any critic.” Students of Maugham would do well to pay close attention to such passages from “A Fragment”:

I do not remember how I came to think that Aleister Crowley might serve as the model for the character whom I called Oliver Haddo; nor, indeed, how I came to think of writing that particular novel at all. When, a little while ago, my publisher expressed a wish to re-issue it, I felt that, before consenting to this, I really should read it again. Nearly fifty years had passed since I had done so, and I had completely forgotten it. Some authors enjoy reading their old works; some cannot bear to. Of these I am. When I have corrected the proofs of a book, I have finished with it for good and all. I am impatient when people insist on talking to me about it; I am glad if they like it, but do not much care if they don’t. I am no more interested in it than in a worn-out suit of clothes that I have given away. It was thus with disinclination that I began to read The Magician. It held my interest, as two of my early novels, which for the same reason I have been obliged to read, did not. One, indeed, I simply could not get through. Another had to my mind some good dramatic scenes, but the humour filled me with mortification, and I should have been ashamed to see it republished. As I read The Magician, I wondered how on earth I could have come by all the material concerning the black arts which I wrote of. I must have spent days and days reading in the library of the British Museum. The style is lush and turgid, not at all the sort of style I approve of now, but perhaps not unsuited to the subject; and there are a great many more adverbs and adjectives than I should use to-day.[4]

This passage needs a little explanation. The style is “lush and turgid” only by the standards of the mature Maugham, that is to say Maugham after Of Human Bondage (1915). By the late Victorian and early Edwardian standards, Maugham’s prose is lean and down-to-earth, seldom afflicted with rhetorical excess and even then mostly to a good effect.

The Magician is a novel of two halves. The first is actually rather good. It is melodramatic, for sure, and it does contain some dull, not to say gratuitous, stuff about Eliphas Levi, Paracelsus and other alchemist loonies (pardon, I meant luminaries). But it does develop, slowly yet surely, into a rather frightening tale of “psychic domination and hypnotic slavery”. For once, the back cover got it right. One might add that the story throbs with sensuality, explores some deep issues more deeply than some horror classics (e.g. science vs superstition and moral degradation) and benefits from a quintet of sharply drawn and vividly contrasted, if not necessarily very complex, characters.

Arthur Burdon is an eminent surgeon with fair prospects to rise in his field as high as possible. He prides himself on being a “plain, practical man”, hard-headed and quite able to “see to the end of my nose with extreme clearness.”[5] Well, he is about to have challenged everything from his superior vision to his condescending attitude to superstition. Margaret Dauncey, his angelic and artistic fiancée, is the subject of a truly Jekyll-and-Hyde experiment in the beginning and something even more terrifying in the end. Susie Boyd, a common friend of the turtle doves, is one of those wise women of the world, middle-aged, single and independent, intensely interested in the human animal (the odder, the better) that Maugham was fond of creating[6]. She is all but in love with lunatics:

There’s no place like Paris for meeting queer folk. Sooner or later you run across persons who believe in everything. There’s no form of religion, there’s no eccentricity or enormity, that hasn’t its votaries. Just think what a privilege it is to come upon a man in the twentieth century who honestly believes in the occult.

Imagine meeting one in the 21st century. Quite an honour!

Dr Porhoët, an amiable French physician more than a little smitten with the occult, often speaks like Maugham himself. Confessions like “I never cease to be astonished at the unexpectedness of human nature” and “I have always been interested in the oddities of mankind” sum up Maugham’s complete life and works. The doctor has lived much of his life in the east, in Egypt to be exact, and has had his outlook broadened by the experience, as did Maugham during his long travels farther east. The great writer, however, was more of a sceptic and less of a pessimist than the charming doctor:

At one time I read a good deal of philosophy and a good deal of science, and I learned in that way that nothing was certain. Some people, by the pursuit of science, are impressed with the dignity of man, but I was only made conscious of his insignificance. The greatest questions of all have been threshed out since he acquired the beginnings of civilization and he is as far from a solution as ever. Man can know nothing, for his senses are his only means of knowledge, and they can give no certainty. There is only one subject upon which the individual can speak with authority, and that is his own mind, but even here he is surrounded with darkness. I believe that we shall always be ignorant of the matters which it most behoves us to know, and therefore I cannot occupy myself with them. I prefer to set them all aside, and, since knowledge is unattainable, to occupy myself only with folly.

Oliver Haddo, the diabolic mastermind behind everything, completely and doubt deliberately overshadows everybody else. He is not a forgettable character. The phrase “larger than life” might have been invented for him. It’s easy to spot the traits Maugham borrowed from Crowley; the penetrating eyes, the grandiloquent way of speaking, the thoroughly obnoxious bearing; the boasting of incredible yet true achievements. He is “outrageous and bombastic” indeed, as Maugham was the first to recognise and as Crowley himself no doubt was.

But Oliver Haddo is a little more than that. He is not unworthy of standing beside Vic Frankenstein and Harry Jekyll. All three tried to crack the secrets of nature much too soon and damned the consequences – and themselves. Haddo, however, is by far the scariest and most amoral of the three. He has no Creature to awake his conscience and no alter ego to soften his depravity. Although he is obsessed with all kinds of absurd pseudoscience and many of his actions are indefensible from every point of view but that of his own demented mind, some of Haddo’s words are not devoid of thought-provoking overtones, and even of certain nobility:

Yet magic is no more than the art of employing consciously invisible means to produce visible effects. Will, love, and imagination are magic powers that everyone possesses; and whoever knows how to develop them to their fullest extent is a magician. Magic has but one dogma, namely, that the seen is the measure of the unseen.

And what else is it that men seek in life but power? If they want money, it is but for the power that attends it, and it is power again that they strive for in all the knowledge they acquire. Fools and sots aim at happiness, but men aim only at power. The magus, the sorcerer, the alchemist, are seized with fascination of the unknown; and they desire a greatness that is inaccessible to mankind. They think by the science they study so patiently, by endurance and strength, by force of will and by imagination, for these are the great weapons of the magician, they may achieve at last a power with which they can face the God of Heaven Himself.


There are some descriptive passages of genuine beauty and power, more than a little reminiscent of the mature Maugham. Chapter VIII, in which Margaret falls under Haddo’s mesmerising powers, is particularly rich in such poetic flights. Here is one favourite of mine in which Maugham put his boundless love for Spain to an excellent use:

He described the picture by Valdes Leal, in a certain place at Seville, which represents a priest at the altar; and the altar is sumptuous with gilt and florid carving. He wears a magnificent cope and a surplice of exquisite lace, but he wears them as though their weight was more than he could bear; and in the meagre trembling hands, and in the white, ashen face, in the dark hollowness of the eyes, there is a bodily corruption that is terrifying. He seems to hold together with difficulty the bonds of the flesh, but with no eager yearning of the soul to burst its prison, only with despair; it is as if the Lord Almighty had forsaken him and the high heavens were empty of their solace. All the beauty of life appears forgotten, and there is nothing in the world but decay. A ghastly putrefaction has attacked already the living man; the worms of the grave, the piteous horror of mortality, and the darkness before him offer naught but fear. Beyond, dark night is seen and a turbulent sea, the dark night of the soul of which the mystics write, and the troublous sea of life whereon there is no refuge for the weary and the sick at heart.[7]

This must have been drawn from life, or from canvas rather. Juan Valdés Leal is a rather obscure Spanish painter from the 17th century, but we are fortunate to live in the Age of Internet. The closest I have been able to find is a portrait of one Fray Pedro de Guadalupe (c. 1656), now in the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville.

Nobody can describe places better with fewer words than Maugham. The novel roams from Paris and London to Monte Carlo and the English countryside, so there are plenty of opportunities for that. One especially vivid and disturbingly relevant example is this Parisian fair:

The noise was deafening. Steam bands thundered out the popular tunes of the moment, and to their din merry-go-rounds were turning. At the door of booths men vociferously importuned the passers-by to enter. From the shooting saloons came a continual spatter of toy rifles. Linking up these sounds, were the voices of the serried crowd that surged along the central avenue, and the shuffle of their myriad feet. The night was lurid with acetylene torches, which flamed with a dull unceasing roar. It was a curious sight, half gay, half sordid. The throng seemed bent with a kind of savagery upon amusement, as though, resentful of the weary round of daily labour, it sought by a desperate effort to be merry.

How little things change! The acetylene torches have disappeared, but the desire of the human crowd to be amused remains desperate and savage.

Unfortunately, all these merits are somewhat undone towards the end. In the second half, or rather in the last third or so, the novel gradually degenerates into a standard horror flick, something between a ghost story and a monster movie. The grand finale is rather a grand anticlimax. It just fizzles out. I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll just say I expected something more striking and less perfunctory.

As an Italian reviewer has pointed out, The Magician can be recommended only to Maugham or Crowley fanatics. I would exclude Crowley for the obvious reason that Haddo is no portrait of him, but I quite agree with the other part. Students of Maugham would find this novel fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Otherwise it cannot be recommended. Then again, there are some people who like it better than some of Maugham’s finest short stories and even some weird souls who consider it Maugham’s best novel. Nothing can be said against such people. It is their right to prefer the dross to the pure metal. To others like them The Magician can be recommended without reservations.

_______________________________________________
[1] The Punch caricature, published on 24 June 1908, is reprinted in the most invaluable resource about Maugham’s plays: Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, Theatrical Companion to Maugham, Rockliff, 1955, p. 58. It includes even the mock interview of Mr Punch with Maugham which, together with the caricature, formed the “Epilogue” of Vol. 134. I regret to say that even with the generous help of Messrs Mander and Mitchenson, who took the trouble to identify many then famous but now forgotten people, the interview is impressively boring.
[2] A few years after Maugham’s death, in 1967 and 1969 to be exact, Heinemann included in the Edition The Explorer (1907) and The Merry-Go-Round (1904), two early novels Maugham never changed his mind about. The former, a novelised play and a classic potboiler, was written (“in a month and very tedious work I found it”, as Maugham admitted in the 1934 Preface) only because The Magician had been rejected and “this mishap left me without money to support myself during the rest of the year.” Maugham mentions only that the novel, while already set up, was rejected because one of the partners in the publishing house read it in proof and was shocked by it. Raymond Toole Stott gives a much more detailed account. The publishers were Methuen and Maugham had signed with them an agreement for three novels under which he had obtained an advance of £75. When The Magician was rejected, Maugham returned the advance and considered the agreement cancelled by mutual consent. When Heinemann published the novel, with Maugham now the most fashionable playwright in London, Methuen reminded him of the agreement. Maugham would have none of that, threatened to sue the publisher and in the end, as Mr Stott puts it, “the affair fizzled out”. (The perfidy of publishers!) See A Bibliography of the Works of W. Somerset Maugham, Kaye and Ward, 1973, pp. 53-4.
[3] W. Somerset Maugham: The Critical Heritage, eds. Anthony Curtis and John Whitehead, Routledge, 1987, pp. 44-56.
[4] I have wondered a good deal about these two unnamed novels. The one Maugham couldn’t get through was probably The Explorer (see note 2). The novel with “some good dramatic scenes” but mortifying humour might have been The Bishop’s Apron (1906), another novelised play, less likely The Merry-Go-Round (1904), a unique experiment of multiple narration in the Maugham canon, or least likely but possibly even The Hero (1901), Maugham’s fourth novel whose main theme he later used to a better effect in the play The Unknown (1920).
[5] Cf. A Writer’s Notebook (1949), “1917”: “Most people cannot see anything, but I can see what is in the front of my nose with extreme clearness”.
[6] Cf. Mrs Tabret from The Sacred Flame (1928) and Miss Ley from The Merry-Go-Round (1904). Miss Ley is briefly mentioned in The Magician and so is Frank Hurrell!
[7] For a longer version, see this selection of quotes. ( )
1 rösta Waldstein | Jul 1, 2019 |
Dated, mystical nonsense. Should stick to his short stories.
Read Samoa Oct 2003 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 28, 2015 |
[From the Preface to Liza of Lambeth, Heinemann, The Collected Edition, 1934:]

The last of the novels I have written which also finds no place in this edition is The Magician. It is the only one about which I have hesitated. I took great pains over it and spent much time in getting together the materials. The principal character was suggested partly by the portrait of Alessandro del Borro in the Museum at Berlin and partly by an acquaintance I made when I was spending a year in Paris. […] I read the works of Eliphas Levi and devised a story melodramatic enough to serve as a frame for the outrageous and bombastic creature of my fancy. But the book would never have been written except for the regard I had for Joris Karl Huysmans who was then at the height of his vogue. I do not suppose that anyone could read Là-Bas now with more than a languid interest, but at that time it seemed suggestive and mysterious. It had a palpitating horror that many found strangely fascinating. It was a new sort of shocker written in a curious, vivid and unusual French. I suppose Huysmans' three most important works will be remembered for some time as a picture of a certain side of French feeling at a certain period. Their influence on current literature, though ephemeral, was wide-spread. But Huysmans had a cardinal advantage over his imitators: he sincerely believed what he wrote. He was a man insanely superstitious who was convinced of the real existence of the maleficent powers of which he treated. He lived in craven terror of spells, charms and incantations. To me it was all moonshine. I did not believe a word of it. It was a game I was playing. A book written under these conditions can have no life in it. This is the chief reason that has induced me to omit The Magician from this selected edition of my writings.

[From “A Fragment of Autobiography”, preface to The Magician, Heinemann, The Collected Edition, 1956:]

Soon after my arrival [in Paris, winter of 1904/05], Gerald Kelly took me to a restaurant called La Chant Blanc in the Rue d’Odessa, near the Gare Montparnasse, where a number of artists were in the habit of dining; and from then on I dined there every night. I have described elsewhere, and in some detail in the novel to which these pages are meant to serve as a preface, so that I need not here say more about it. As a rule, the same people came in every night, but now and then others came, perhaps only once, perhaps two or three times. We were apt to look upon them as interlopers, and I don’t think we made them particularly welcome. It was thus that I first met Arnold Bennett and Clive Bell. One of these casual visitors was Aleister Crowley. He was spending the winter in Paris. I took an immediate dislike to him, but he interested and amused me. He was a great talker and he talked uncommonly well. In early youth, I was told, he was extremely handsome, but when I knew him he had put on weight, and his hair was thinning. He had fine eyes and a way, whether natural or acquired I do not know, of so focusing them that, when he looked at you, he seemed to look behind you. He was a fake, but not entirely a fake. At Cambridge he had won his chess blue and was esteemed the best whist player of his time. He was a liar and unbecomingly boastful, but the odd thing was that he had actually done some of the things he boasted of. As a mountaineer, he had made an ascent of K.2. in the Hindu Kush, the second highest mountain in India, and he made it without the elaborate equipment, the cylinders of oxygen and so forth, which render the endeavours of the mountaineers of the present day more likely to succeed. He did not reach the top, but got nearer to it that anyone had done before.

Crowley was a voluminous writer of verse, which he published sumptuously at his own expense. He had a gift for rhyming, and his verse is not entirely without merit. He had been greatly influenced by Swinburne and Robert Browning. He was grossly, but not unintelligently, imitative.

[…]

At the time I knew him he was dabbling in Satanism, magic and the occult. There was just then something of a vogue in Paris for that sort of thing, occasioned, I surmise, by the interest that was still taken in a book of Huysmans’s, Là Bas. Crowley told fantastic stories of his experiences, but it was hard to say whether he was telling the truth or merely pulling your leg. During that winter I saw him several times, but never after I left Paris to return to London. Once, long afterwards, I received a telegram from him which run as follows: “Please send twenty-five pounds at once. Mother of God and I starving. Aleister Crowley.” I did not do so, and he lived on for many disgraceful years.

[...]

The Magician was published in 1908, so I suppose it was written during the first six months of 1907. I do not remember how I came to think that Aleister Crowley might serve as the model for the character whom I called Oliver Haddo; nor, indeed, how I came to think of writing that particular novel at all. When, a little while ago, my publisher expressed a wish to re-issue it, I felt that, before consenting to this, I really should read it again. Nearly fifty years had passed since I had done so, and I had completely forgotten it. Some authors enjoy reading their old works; some cannot bear to. Of these I am. When I have corrected the proofs of a book, I have finished with it for good and all. I am impatient when people insist on talking to me about it; I am glad if they like it, but do not much care if they don’t. I am no more interested in it than in a worn-out suit of clothes that I have given away. It was thus with disinclination that I began to read The Magician. It held my interest, as two of my early novels, which for the same reason I have been obliged to read, did not. One, indeed, I simply could not get through. Another had to my mind some good dramatic scenes, but the humour filled me with mortification, and I should have been ashamed to see it republished. As I read The Magician, I wondered how on earth I could have come by all the material concerning the black arts which I wrote of. I must have spent days and days reading in the library of the British Museum. The style is lush and turgid, not at all the sort of style I approve of now, but perhaps not unsuited to the subject; and there are a great many more adverbs and adjectives that I should use to-day. I fancy I must have been impressed by the écriture artiste which the French writers of the time had not yet entirely abandoned, and unwisely sought to imitate them.

Though Aleister Crowley served, as I have said, as the model for Oliver Haddo, it is by no means a portrait of him. I made my character more striking in appearance, more sinister and more ruthless than Crowley ever was. I gave him magical powers that Crowley, though he claimed them, certainly never possessed. Crowley, however, recognised himself in the creature of my invention, for such it was, and wrote a full-page review of the novel in Vanity Fair, which he signed ‘Oliver Haddo’. I did not read it, and wish now that I had. I daresay it was a pretty piece of vituperation, but probably, like his poems, intolerably verbose.

I do not remember what success, if any, my novel had when it was published, and I did not bother about it much, for by then a great change had come into my life. The manager of the Court Theatre, one Otho Stuart, had brought out a play which failed to please, and he could not immediately get the cast he wanted for the next play he had in mind to produce. He had read one of mine, and formed a very poor opinion of it; but he was in a quandary, and it occurred to him that it might just serve to keep his theatre open for a few weeks, by the end of which the actors he wanted for the play he had been obliged to postpone would be at liberty. He put mine on. It was an immediate success. The result of this was that in a very little while other managers accepted the plays they had consistently refused, and I had four running in London at the same time. I, who for ten years had earned an average of one hundred pounds a year, found myself earning several hundred pounds a week. I made up my mind to abandon the writing of novels for the rest of my life. I did not know that this was something out of my control and that when the urge to write a novel seized me, I should be able to do nothing but submit. Five years later, the urge came and, refusing to write any more plays for the time, I started upon the longest of my novels. I called it Of Human Bondage.
1 rösta WSMaugham | Jun 13, 2015 |
Visa 1-5 av 14 (nästa | visa alla)
inga recensioner | lägg till en recension

» Lägg till fler författare (18 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
W. Somerset Maughamprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Peccinotti, HarriCover photographermedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Du måste logga in för att ändra Allmänna fakta.
Mer hjälp finns på hjälpsidan för Allmänna fakta.
Vedertagen titel
Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
Originaltitel
Alternativa titlar
Första utgivningsdatum
Personer/gestalter
Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
Viktiga platser
Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
Viktiga händelser
Relaterade filmer
Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
Priser och utmärkelser
Information från den ryska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
Motto
Dedikation
Inledande ord
Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
Arthur Burdon and Dr Porhoët walked in silence.
Citat
Avslutande ord
Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
(Klicka för att visa. Varning: Kan innehålla spoilers.)
Särskiljningsnotis
Förlagets redaktörer
På baksidan citeras
Ursprungsspråk
Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
Kanonisk DDC/MDS

Hänvisningar till detta verk hos externa resurser.

Wikipedia på engelska

Ingen/inga

Maughams enchanting tale of secrets and fatal attraction "The Magician" is one of Somerset Maughams most complex and perceptive novels. Running through it is the theme of evil, deftly woven into a story as memorable for its action as for its astonishingly vivid characters. In fin de sicle Paris, Arthur and Margaret are engaged to be married. Everyone approves and everyone seems to be enjoying themselvesuntil the sinister and repulsive Oliver Haddo appears.

Inga biblioteksbeskrivningar kunde hittas.

Bokbeskrivning
Haiku-sammanfattning

Snabblänkar

Populära omslag

Betyg

Medelbetyg: (3.46)
0.5
1 3
1.5 1
2 12
2.5 2
3 41
3.5 19
4 35
4.5 5
5 15

Är det här du?

Bli LibraryThing-författare.

 

Om | Kontakt | LibraryThing.com | Sekretess/Villkor | Hjälp/Vanliga frågor | Blogg | Butik | APIs | TinyCat | Efterlämnade bibliotek | Förhandsrecensenter | Allmänna fakta | 157,023,326 böcker! | Topplisten: Alltid synlig