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Book Review: The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham

"The Moon and Sixpence" is a novel written by British novelist William Somerset Maugham. It was written in 1919. The work describes an originally ordinary London stockbroker Strickland, who suddenly fell into the magic of art, abandoned his wife and children, abandoned the prosperous and happy life of others, and went to Tahiti in the South Pacific. 

Use a round pen to compose a story about his brilliant life and inject all the value of life into the gorgeous canvas. After the publication of Maugham's novel, it made a sensation in the literary world with its plot and profound writing, and people rushed to pass it on. 

The prototype of this novel is the French Impressionist painter Gauguin, which adds to its legendary color and attracts the attention of readers all over the world.

"The Moon and Sixpence" 

by W. Somerset Maugham

book-review-the-moon-and-sixpence-by-w-somerset-maugham

The moon and sixpence character analysis

Strickland

Strickland was originally a securities broker and had a seemingly happy family. Behind his brutal, obviously sensual face, there is a turbulent and restless heart. He is tortured by loneliness and tormented by "God", and he is born for art. 

Therefore, he is destined to break through the barriers of the world and move towards the ultimate state of the art under the call of the "oracles", driven by persistent thoughts, and under the temptation of the absence of time. 

He is imitating wandering in loneliness, conflicting in loneliness, being born in loneliness, and at the last moment of life, he realizes the freedom of the soul in loneliness.

Mrs. Strickland

No matter from which aspect, Mrs. Strickland was born at the right time in the early 20th century. She was born in a British family, made friends with celebrities, and acted dignified and elegantly. She was in full compliance with the feminine style required by the upper class. 

In social situations, she can always cleverly prevent cold spots from appearing and can guide everyone's conversations to always surround a common theme. Sometimes, "she makes you feel that accepting her sympathy is doing her a good deed." 

She has an amiable face, a decent dress, and elegant furnishings. She is very capable, and the housework is arranged in an orderly manner. She is also a good wife and mother, caring for her children and making them well-educated. Her husband is a loyal and honest stockbroker. 

In short, this is an enviable middle-class family that is loving and harmonious, honest and decent, free from any catastrophe. However, the comfortable home that Mrs. Strickland had worked so hard to manage was shattered by her husband's departure. "Happy families are similar, but unfortunate families are different." 

Tolstoy's famous saying is ironic here: such a nearly perfect woman has a fatal weakness. She doesn't understand or understand herself at all. But her husband thinks so. Mrs. Strickland once talked to "me" about her husband lovingly: "He has no literary accomplishments, and is a complete petty citizen." 

She thinks that her husband left because of new love, "with someone The woman went to Paris." She couldn't imagine and could not accept her husband leaving her for a sacred ideal in her heart-"I must paint". However, she is still smart in her class of women. 

When she finally learned the truth, she was desperate: if it was an elopement, he would get tired sooner or later, and she could forgive him (this is her superiority), If it is for an ideal, everything is over. She can be the opponent of a woman, but not the opponent of a certain idea.

Blanche

Contrary to Mrs. Strickland’s rich and peaceful life in her later years, Blanche, an elusive woman who "as if there is something in her heart", came from this world like a meteor — and also from Strickland. The cruel heart passed away suddenly. She used to be a tutor of a Roman nobleman. 

She was deceived by her host of pure love. When she was in desperation to commit suicide, she met the kind mediocre artist Ströf. The two got married and were very "happy". "He and his wife are a picture that makes you miss it." 

However, this is another seemingly peaceful and elegant, pleasant family, a man-made boutique, fragile enough to withstand a single blow from the outside world. As Ströhoff often helped the poor painters, they got acquainted with Strickland. 

When the latter was penniless, hungry, and dying, Ströhoff tried his best to persuade Blanche to take him. When he came to take care of him at home, he was resolutely opposed by the always meek Blanche: "I hate this man!" "He is uneducated and not polite." "If he comes here, I will go!" 

However, Dang Shite Lough talked endlessly, even when she mentioned that she had been in trouble, she gave in, but at the same time she showed panic and the terrible premonition that was contrary to the usual calmness and stability: "He will bring us harm!"

Love Tower

Aita is a local aboriginal in Tahiti. She has a small property next to the Tarawa River. The landlady said, “The dried coconuts harvested there are enough for you to live comfortably at the current market price. You can paint for as long as you want. 

How much time do you have." She is very frugal, saving up all the money she earns from helping in the Flower Inn. She doesn’t care about the red tape and is very reasonable. She doesn’t require any ceremonies to be held in front of the mayor. 

This doesn’t mean She is a girl who nobody marries: she is beautiful, she loves herself, she never messes with people, she does it all because she likes Strickland. Compared with the appearance of the two previous marriages, their marriage life is simple and happy.


The moon and sixpence summary

Strickland is a stockbroker who works in London. He has a wealthy and happy family: his wife is beautiful, he admires vanity, and his two children are healthy and happy. It stands to reason that he should be satisfied with this kind of human happiness, although this kind of life is vulgar and peaceful. 

However, just in the 17th year after their marriage, he suddenly left home for Paris, abandoning his career and family that seemed to outsiders to be good. Just when people thought he was leaving because of an affair, people discovered the fact that he was originally just for painting.

At this time, Strickland didn't have any painting foundation, he just liked painting. In the eyes of outsiders, he was crazy, his life became embarrassing, and he almost died of hunger and disease several times. 

The paintings he paints are not the same and always destroy the original things. Except for a crappy painter, Braunsch Ströf, who treats him as a god, no one will buy his paintings. In fact, he never sells paintings easily.

He wandered constantly and finally came to Tahiti, where he married Aita, an indigenous girl. At this time, he seemed content. He had an aboriginal wife who lived in a secluded place, where he painted every day. 

Unfortunately, shortly after he contracted leprosy, he became blind a year before his death. Aita took care of him until he finished his giant mural and died from festering. According to his last words, his wife burned down the house full of murals without even leaving a piece of wood.


The moon and sixpence analysis

It is indisputable that the British painter in "The Moon and Sixpence" is based on the French post-impressionist master Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Gauguin also worked as an agent before he determined to engage in painting; Gauguin was also very rough and poor throughout his life; Gauguin finally arrived in Tahiti and was buried on a deserted island. 

But apart from the general outline of life, Maugham created another character entirely. This novel was written by Maugham after he returned to Europe after traveling through Tahiti.


About the author

William Somerset Maugham (1874~1965).

British novelist and dramatist. Born in Paris on January 25, 1874. His father was a lawyer and worked at the British Embassy in France. Little Maugham was under ten years old, his parents died successively, and he was sent back to England to be raised by his uncle. 

After Maugham entered the Royal College of Canterbury, due to his short stature and severe stuttering, he was often bullied and tortured by other children, and sometimes he was humiliated for no reason by Dong Heng's pedantic. 

The lonely and lonely childhood has cast a painful shadow on his immature soul. He has cultivated his withdrawn, sensitive, and introverted character, but it has also made him strong and compassionate. 

His childhood experience had an important influence on his world outlook and literary creation, and his many works created since then revealed a profound analysis of life, art, and beliefs.

Excerpts from the original text

She has never had any feelings for her husband. I used to think that she loves Ströf, but in fact, it is just a natural reaction to a woman caused by the caress of a man and the comfort of life. Most women regard this reaction as love. 

This is a kind of passive feeling that can be produced by any person, just like a vine can be attached to any tree. Because this kind of feeling can make a girl marry any man who needs her, and I believe that she will grow in love with this person over time, so the secular opinion determines its power. 

But after all, what is this feeling? It is nothing more than the satisfaction of a secure life, the pride of having a family, being complacent about the need for someone, and being proud of building their own family; women are kind-hearted and love vanity, so they think of this kind of feeling. Very rich in spiritual value. But before impulsive enthusiasm, such feelings are defenseless.—— Quoted from page 138 


The moon and sixpence book: 

Short comment

The story is very vulgar: middle-aged people throw away their family and throw their sons into art careers, and don’t hesitate to exile them for thousands of miles. 

Anyone with dreams is great for pastoral life. A great career. If you succeed, you will be vulgar.//Great, your sister! The story has no three perspectives, the narrative is scattered, and finally, it is forcibly washed out. Maugham was black all his life.
 
1. The author is a middle-aged dick, and his hatred of women is heinous. The irony is that while despising love, he never leaves love; 
2. Charles pretends to be innocent and despise women and despise sexual desire while sleeping on his friend’s wife, and standing up again; 
3. Who gives "me" the courage to look down on Dutch friends? People are at least sincere than you; 
4. The painter finally fell on the island, and he relied on marrying a local girl to take care of him, that is, a giant baby + a little white face; 
5. Where can so many women suddenly fall in love with him? Succession to the throne, wake up, and move bricks, okay? And in the end, it was clearly written that it collapsed. 

The doctors pursued their own pastoral life to save the dying and heal the wounded, at least not hurting anyone. You pursue the pastoral life and leave the house to kill your friends and wives in their old age. Can you compare with others?




Book Review of The Moon and Sixpence

Maugham is a very smart writer. Very, smart.

People who write well are not necessarily smart. He is really smart.

He is a very serious reader. Compared with other poisonous tongues, he reads more books than heaven. And he is still very gossip, just look at his commentary on Stendhal and Flaubert. He has a very clear grasp of the author's psychology.

Only he dare to say that Balzac, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky are not good at writing, but "great writers need not only writing but passion and narrative desire."
He is immortal but lacks a bit of passion. 

He is too smart, so smart that he lacks a bit of recklessness. So history can hardly classify him among the Tolstoys, but he probably doesn't care about it. 

In the 20th century, he was still writing 19th-century novels. But he writes really well.

Maugham is not willing to make coincidences deliberately for the sake of drama, nor does he force the characters to twist away for the sake of a plot. There are not many magnificent tricks, and there is a little British fan who refuses to jump to the front desk to reason. End of it. So it's like a piano solo without orchestral collocation. It's a bit thin, not thick, but smooth and smooth.

Even when Maugham tried to preach, he would not lose his style of storytelling, so he likes to moisten things silently when telling stories, and wipe them with a British smile. It was very awkward to want to intervene in the preaching, unlike when Balzac and Hugo intervened when they were telling the story. Maugham's great admiration for Stendhal and Dickens is all about their storytelling.

In terms of ignoring political correctness and deliberately mocking tradition, Maugham is actually a bit Nabokov-like-although his two temperaments are not the same, and they will pinch each other when they really meet.

But Maugham was not a person who was cold enough to mock all feelings. In "The Moon and Sixpence", his feelings are clearly shown.

You must have a friend like this: working in a bank, looking average, doing business, having a wife and children, diligent to support the family, not talkative, but if you speak, what you say is mostly boring and tasteless-in short, the image is very vain. , On any social occasion, he is a small person in the corner. In fact, you must have more than one such friend, in fact, you may be such a person yourself.

        Can you imagine this friend ran away from home suddenly one day? Then when you hear about him again, it is said that he has arrived in Paris and is learning to paint from the beginning to become a painter.

        It is hard for you to imagine, looking around me all the friends with the above characteristics, I can't either. But Maugham wrote about such a person. His name is Charles. After leaving a note saying "dinner is ready", he left his 17-year-old wife and two children and went to Paris. He was 40 years old that year, lived in the most dilapidated hotel in Paris, and had only 100 yuan on him.

        However, this is not an inspirational story of how a dream chaser went through hardships and achieved brilliance. If it is such a story, the actor should be in his early 20s, handsome and handsome, and he will meet a rich man’s beautiful daughter in the book. Of course, he will also encounter a villain who is jealous of his talent. The villain must follow him. Compete for that lady, but justice will surely defeat evil, the male protagonist will become a tycoon, and the lovers will eventually become family members.

        "The Moon and Sixpence" is not such a story. What kind of story is it? The whole world is chasing dreams, but Charles is chasing his bad luck. Well, these two things are actually not that different. People who are captured by dreams are chasing their own bad luck. Of course, the dreams mentioned here are real dreams. They are not the blueprints mentioned in "Mum and Dad", "Teacher said", "TV newspaper said", not the golden collar above the blue-collar and white-collar, nor the hunter giving the sparrow. That bit of rice in the trap set.

        Charles walked fast, catching up with his bad luck as he wished. Five years later, he was poor and sick in Paris, lying in a small attic dying, if it weren't for a friend to help him, he would almost die. Later, he fell to the streets and became a dock worker. A few years later, he was self-exiled to a small island in the Pacific, suffering from leprosy and blind in both eyes. Before he died, he asked people to burn his pinnacle work. Within 15 years, this London stock trader was racing across the city, civilization, middle class, the Pacific, and humanity, and finally caught up with the fierce horse of fate.

        "He lives at another level". The movie "Big Night" has such a line, and Charles reminds me of this line. Other people's lives are constantly doing addition, but he is doing subtraction. Every identity of a person is a kind of self-abduction, and only loss is the way to freedom. So Charles refused to be a "husband", "daddy", "friend", "colleague", or "British" anymore. He lost his identity one by one, just like taking off one layer of clothes, and finally raised his foot and stepped naked. Go into the ice cave called by the heart. The "I" in the novel asked him: "Don't you love your children"? He said: "I have no special feelings for them"; "I," asked him again: "Don't you even need love", he said: "Love will only interfere with my painting." Others may sympathize with his poverty and destitution, but when he picked up the paintbrush, he felt that he was a king.

        Of course, such a person is hateful. He has only himself in his eyes, no others, selfishness, no sense of responsibility, and disdain to have any relationship with "society". But he is very innocent because he has no other people in his eyes, not even himself. He did not choose his dream but was hit by the dream. In his own words, "I must paint, just like a drowning person must struggle." If he is different from others, it is that he is more obedient to fate than others. Dreams are so coquettish and sharp. People are running around in panic, fleeing to fame, or profit, or resentment for fame and fortune. But Charles refused to be the "men" in "people". There was sixpence all over the floor, but he looked up and saw the moon.

        After reading this book, my mind is frozen in Charles' last days. Deep in the jungle of a Pacific island, in a simple earthen house, the old man who was disfigured by leprosy sat in the full wall of paintings he painted, listening to the turbulent colors-yes, he was blind at that time and could only Listen to the colors, gold is the high pitch, black is the bass, white is the breeze, and red is the scream. I admit that this situation cannot arouse the slightest pity in me because there is only awe in my heart-awe and awe. I think this is the legendary tranquility. I think this is a legendary victory. Although I don't believe in God, I think this is the scene where people should draw a cross on their chests and say "Amen". 


The moon and sixpence themes 

Work theme

In his novels, Maugham deeply explored the contradiction and interaction between life and art. The theme of escapism revealed in the novel is consistent with the pursuit of many people in the West, and it has become a popular novel in the 20th century.

"Maugham's novel "The Moon and Sixpence", inspired by Gauguin, is undoubtedly fabricated more than facts." "In the next ten years, Gauguin believed that he would finally be able to enjoy the fruits of success and let the whole family Reunion.” Comparing novels and reality, we can find that Gauguin’s pursuit of painting has its causal relationship and process development, while Strickland’s departure is very abrupt and overly intense, and the author uses fictional plots and narratives. 

The technique of means has created an artist in the so-called pure sense who is incomprehensible with the world and does not eat the fireworks of the world. Compared with Gauguin's departure, the protagonist Strickland's departure is completely inconsistent with the logic of reality, and it is even more incomprehensible to readers. In fact, there are deeper reasons why Maugham wrote in this way. That is the virtual satisfaction of Maugham's self-desire. 

Sixpence was the smallest unit of British currency at the time. A friend joked with Maugham that people often forget the sixpence under their feet when looking up at the moon. Maugham thought this was quite interesting, so he gave the title of the book, which was quite a joke. The tone of voice. The moon represents a high ideal, and sixpence represents reality.

Reading notes

Each of us is lonely in the world. Everyone is imprisoned in an iron tower and can only rely on some symbols to communicate their thoughts with others, and these symbols have no common value, so their meaning is vague and uncertain. We very pitifully want to transfer the wealth in our hearts to others, but they do not have the ability to accept it. Therefore, we can only walk alone, and we are not together even though our bodies are dependent on each other. Even if we do not understand others, we cannot be understood by others. 



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