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The Moon and Sixpence [Paperback]

William Somerset Maugham
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 Sep 1999 Vintage Classics
Charles Strickland, a conventional stockbroker, abandons his wife and children for Paris and Tahiti, to live his life as a painter. Whilst his betrayal of family, duty and honour gives him the freedom to achieve greatness, his decision leads to an obsession which carries severe implications. Inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin, The Moon and Sixpence is at once a satiric caricature of Edwardian conventions and a vivid portrayal of the mentality of a genius.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (2 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099284766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099284765
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Magnificent" (Express)

"From an era that produced George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells and John Galsworthy, Maugham is the great survivor" (Economist)

"If anyone deserves resuscitation, he does... As a teenager, I read and reread my sister's long shelf of Maughams. What I enjoyed was their atmosphere: the brooding, sensual, sinister mood of exotic locations, where his characters seemed always on the verge of mania and where no-one behaved nearly so well as they were expected to" (Rosemary Goring Herald)

Book Description

Stunningly rejacketed as part of a major reinvigoration of this neglected 20th century master

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece. 27 July 2005
I feel I don't have to divulge the synopsis of The Moon and Sixpence, as many other readers have given their own detailed accounts of the storyline, setting the scene quite clearly.
However I felt I had to express the feelings I went through while reading this book and the way in which it changed my outlook upon life.
I think we can all, at some point relate to the way in which Charles Strickland abandoned all that he had ever known. Some would say he took a gamble with life and in a sense, he did just that. Charles Strickland changed his life in such a dramatic way, a way in which the vast majority only ever dream of doing. His overpowering need to express something so great from within himself, coupled with his obstinate personality, lead him to that place of paradise which he had only ever seen in his minds eye. For him it was the place where he knew his soul would at last be able to rest in peace.
Having personally studied the life and works of the genius Paul Gauguin, I feel W. Somerset Maugham captured something so deep and personal and skillfully adapted his findings so that the reader could learn to look beyond his horizons with great hope.
I feel we all need time to look at what the future holds for us, it takes great courage to be who we want to be, but here is a beautiful story to uplift and enlighten our senses.
Thank you for reading my opinions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where's the love for Somerset Maugham? 12 Sep 2012
What's happened to Somerset Maugham's reputation? In his lifetime he was a massively popular, bestselling author, and what's more a critical darling. But now, nearly fifty years after his death, his books remain in print but he's hardly a writer in fashion. Why is that? As although I'm fairly new to his fiction (this is only my second Maugham), I have to say that I'm deeply impressed by his work. These are sharp and observant novels with strong characters and excellent narrative. And yet their author's name and reputation has receded into the background.

`The Moon and the Sixpence' is loosely based on the life of Paul Gauguin (much like the previous novel I read was based on Aleister Crowley). Maughan recasts him as an Englishman, but this is still a tale of a man abandoning his family and striving to be an artist whilst battling poverty and deprivation.

Maugham is really good at capturing a sense of place, with London, France and Tahiti brought into being with a simple and unfussy vividness. His grasp of character is highly astute as well, with the artist Charles Strickland becoming this increasingly large and vibrant presence - even as he remains somewhat unknowable. (To blend charisma and enigma together is no simple trick.) I also enjoyed the Dutch painter, Stroeve. Okay, maybe the female characters aren't as well observed, but then this is a tale of a damaged and damaging man, and those around him are (mostly) casualties - the female characters are there to suffer in different ways.

If I'm honest, the final quarter is not quite as good as what went before, and there are throughout - particularly when discussing art - some terribly overwrought passages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "An odious man - but a great one." 26 Oct 2010
Inspired by Gauguin, this is the fascinating story of Charles Strickland. Strickland has the ambition to paint (but only in his own inconventional and idiosyncratic way) and develops such a passion for this that he is unable to think of anything else. He leaves his family (with no apparent guilt) and lives a life of poverty in Paris, Marseilles and Tahiti. He shows no feelings for anyone around him but at the same times evokes compassion and admiration in others. Strickland is obsessed by his art but not in any resulting commercial value.

The book has an interesting construction. It is narrated by an honest admirer - sometimes describing what he has observed but often via a third person. It is a very compelling story - despite the fact that Maugham ensures that there is little endearing in Strickland's character. His actions reveal him to be savage, misogynistic and unfeeling. As the narrator says: "Strickland was an odious man - but I still think he was a great one." The reader is left with some interesting questions. Does a great talent excuse wicked behaviour? Is a genius governed by a different set of morals than us lesser beings?

A splendid read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating insight into the artistic temprement 10 Jun 2010
By Allhug
As a woman I should be ever so slightly offended by this book - the prevalent attitude towards women is not enlightened. However, I find that I can't dislike this book and that Maugham is fast becoming my favourite author of the early 20th Century.

Based loosely on the life of painter Paul Gauguin, this book provides a fascinating insight into the artistic temperament, a peek at the life of a genius. - This isn't a view from within the heart and mind of the title character, Charles Strickland, but only a glimpse of the possibilities of that mind as interpreted by the narrator. If we're honest with ourselves we all try to `figure out' what makes other people tick - often we can't know the real answer but we come up with approximations of their character that satisfy our sense of what it is to be alive in this world and a functioning part of society. Strickland defies any explanation. He is not easily understandable to those of us who play by society's rules and Maugham has managed to fascinate us with Strickland's utter selfishness and eccentricity and the fact that here is a man that manages to live completely outside the boundaries of acceptability. Strickland is not at all likeable but he is awe inspiring.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and different
I found this book good and enjoyable to read overall but found myself becoming a little impatient towards the end and beginning not to care about what happened to the main... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sharon
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated
On the evidence of this book, it is hard to believe this author was so popular fifty years ago. He has a very dated writing style: the narrative is dense, somewhat relieved where... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Donald Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars No problems
There were no problems in the selection, ordering and delivery of a new paperback copy of this novel. Maugham is a good storyteller and very readable.
Published 18 months ago by LSD
4.0 out of 5 stars Gauguin by any other Name
This book was suggested by a member of my book club who had seen the Gauguin exhibition at the Tate. Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2011 by J. A. Findlay
5.0 out of 5 stars memorable characters, wonderful read
There is an interesting story relating to the title of this book. A review of one of the Author's previous novels described the lead as "so busy yearning for the moon that he... Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2010 by GJ_Reading
3.0 out of 5 stars Transforms the sublime into the sensible
An interesting idea, what makes great art? Based on the true and slightly awful story of Paul Gauguin's life. Read more
Published on 28 July 2010 by Brownbear101
4.0 out of 5 stars really good
The Moon and Sixpence is a book about Charles Strickland, who inexplicably leaves his family to live a life as a poor painter in France. Read more
Published on 27 May 2010 by Rubbah
5.0 out of 5 stars Obsessive
Painting, even if it uses codes, is the art of showing, whereas the writer, limited to words, can only proceed by allusion, by tickling images from the minds of his public. Read more
Published on 4 July 2008 by reader 451
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Portrayal of a man.
told from the third person view point; the life of an interesting man, thats about all their is to say.
Published on 21 Mar 2008 by B. J. Crossley
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