Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Culture, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Macintosh" by W. Somerset Maugham

"Macintosh" by W. Somerset Maugham (1921, 23 pages)


A Very Interesting South Sea Story

"Macintosh" is my very first venture into the vast world of W. Somerset Maugham (1874 to 1965).   He was born in Paris because he father was an attached to the English Embassy in Paris.    Maugham is best known now for On Humane Bondage and The Razor's Edge.   He wrote during a period of much technical innovation in the novel but he said he wrote primarily to entertain.   He succeeded wonderfully at this goal and was the highest earning novelists during the 1930s.  (You can read more about him here.)   

Maugham loved to travel and also wrote several travel  books and collections of short stories set in the places he visited.  One of his favorite places was the colonial islands of the South Pacific.   He published a highly regarded much loved collection of eight short stories set in the islands, The Trembling of a Leaf.   "Macintosh" and his probably most famous and read short story "Rain" are in this collection.

I will keep my post on "Macintosh" short as I am getting backed up in pending posts.   There will be a link at the end of the post where you can download all of The Trembling Leaf for free or you can also buy it on Amazon for $12.99.  

I really liked this story a lot, I almost love it.   It was certainly entertaining and it also is a very good look at colonial life in The South Seas.   There are only two real players in the story, Mr. Walker, the administrator of a colonial island and his assistant, Macintosh, and idealistic young man from Glasgow just starting his career as a colonial administrator.     Mr. Walker is the very stereotype of a paternalistic bullying colonial ruler.   He kooks upon the residents of the island ("the natives") as his children and he does honestly try to do what is best for him.   He is financially incorruptible and never uses his position to enrich himself, as was quite the rule.    He does force the natives to follow his directive and he does enjoy having fun with the women but his road building program has brought real prosperity to the island.   

His assistant Macintosh hates him and he also bullies him and treats him like he is a wet behind the ears wimp.   

I sort of hate to do this but I will cut short the summery here.   It is just a wonderful story and there is more to Mr Walker than you at first will think.  I was not crazy for how Maugham ended the story.   I will next read "Rain" and probably the other six stories also.   I will say Mr Walker shows just how clever he is when the natives try to gang up on him!

I am very glad I "discovered" Maugham.   

Please share you experience with Maugham with us, including your reaction to his big  books.

You can download The Trembling of a Leaf here in many different formats.

Maugham is a GLBT writer.   

Mel u

2 comments:

Buried In Print said...

I don't have much experience of his books, but I added Of Human Bondage to my annual list of Must-Reads about 10 years ago -- not sure how I came to choose it because I didn't/don't know much about him as an author -- and I remember being quite surprised at how gripping the story was. I had the idea it would be a bit staid, and it read more like a page-turner, so I read it in a couple of days despite its girth.

mel u said...

Buried in Print-I was also expecting "Mackintosh" to be a bit staid but I was very pleasantly surprised to the contrary-I will read a few more of his short stories and will then try one of the two big books-thanks so much for your comment and visit