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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece.
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...
Published on 27 July 2005 by louise allen

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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. Elegantly written, but let down by Edwardian stiffness and an inability to describe art in emotional rather than intellectual terms.

This is based on the true story of the French artist Paul Gauguin, who was a stockbroker until he was in his forties and...
Published on 28 July 2010 by Brownbear101


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5.0 out of 5 stars Maugham masterpiece, 5 April 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
The book is about a man called Strickland who leaves his wife to become a painter. The story is written from the point of view of the narrator who sees the effects of Strickland on the people around him. It's a very powerful story about an extraordinary man. The book is supposed to be based on the life of the painter Gaugin, although I have no idea how close it is to reality. The writing of the book I think is marvellous. You see the author's confusion as he tries to understand this apparently crazed and perverse painter who would starve rather than accept an offer of help, and the story of his bizarre relationships with other people is very moving.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Transforms the sublime into the sensible, 28 July 2010
This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
An interesting idea, what makes great art? Based on the true and slightly awful story of Paul Gauguin's life. Elegantly written, but let down by Edwardian stiffness and an inability to describe art in emotional rather than intellectual terms.

This is based on the true story of the French artist Paul Gauguin, who was a stockbroker until he was in his forties and then struck out on a career to become an artist. I strongly recommend taking a look at Gauguin's works before reading this book since understanding the art is critical to appreciating the novel.

Maugham sets up a three-way triangle; Charles Strickland is a 40-year-old English stockbroker who leaves his middle-class life and wife to set up in Paris as an artist. The narrator is a successful author and playwright - Maugham himself presumably - and finally there is Dirk Stroeve, a Dutch painter of perfectly executed chocolate box pictures. Dirk is an anti-Strickland, warm hearted, buffoonish and weak; his art stinks but he is commercially successful. Only Stroeve recognizes Strickland's genius in his lifetime and the interplay between Stroeve and Strickland is good stuff. Strickland is the brilliant but objectionable genius who knows little about artists or artistic technique whilst Stroeve is a beautiful human being who understands art but cannot produce greatness himself. Strickland lampoons Stroeve who forgives him everything because he sees the genius not the man. The Narrator unfortunately adds nothing to this and seems to be a successful hack writer with limited feeling for art or people, perhaps this meant as irony.

Strickland ruins Stoeve's life, taking his wife, house, studio and appetite for work. Yet Stroeve invites him to come to the Netherlands to live. Strickland declines and at this point moves out of Stroeve's and the Narrator's lives and moves to Tahiti (as did Gauguin). All the tension now evaporates from the tale as the Narrator reconstructs the Tahiti years from third party accounts. That would be fine if Strickland were a real person but he's a fictional monster and with no one except his art as an antagonist he's a character in search of a use. Nonetheless on Tahiti his work reaches its zenith until, blinded and debilitated by leprosy, Strickland dies.

Essentially this is an exploration of genius and the nature of great art, Maugham is a decent wordsmith who has a point to make and the intellect to make it crisply and write it smartly. But the book lacks real emotional heart and reads like a sympathetic and well-meaning parliamentary report as it transforms the sublime into the sensible. It's perfect Edwardian literature, well written and thoughtful but it looks down onto the debate from an academic point of view and, in my view, fails to enable the reader to feel the agony and the ecstasy that is great art.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Freedom and Obligations, 12 Nov. 2014
By 
DB "davidbirkett" (Co. Kildare, Ireland (but born & raised Liverpool, UK)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
This is my first WSM novel, although I have read some of his short stories. He’s a good writer, isn’t he? A bit like Henry James (without the convoluted sentences) and Joseph Conrad (without the extreme pessimism). I wonder if early in his career he met those two at “Mrs Strickland’s”? An interesting discussion about whether the “great artist” is subject to the same obligations as the rest of us. Did this in turn influence Sartre and his “Chemins de la Liberte”?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and different, 3 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
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 character. Worth reading especially for those with an interest in art and art history as the main character is a man who lives only for art. In fact he makes exists only to paint and is unconcerned with human opinions and other's expectations of him.

Sharon J
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1.0 out of 5 stars Life is too short........, 28 Mar. 2015
By 
H. Santilly - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon And Sixpence (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)
Don't bother! One of those books life is too short for! The whole book group felt the same. No one was likeable the main character was a horrible man. maybe he Somerset Maugham wrote a better book than this but I wont be trying anymore.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An artist's obsession with his special development of painting style ..., 18 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
An artist's obsession with his special development of painting style. To this end he sacrifices himself and all personal relationships. A moving read.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars flawed greatness., 14 Sept. 2003
By 
S. Hapgood "www.sjhstrangetales.com" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
I think this book deserves it's great reputation, not only because it is beautifully written, but Maugham gives some startlingly perceptive and powerful insights into the nature of creativity and genius. He never for one moment recommends Strickland to us as a nice man, or even a decent human being. He never makes any apologies for his behaviour, and the narrator is frequently driven to exasperation by his callousness towards the people he hurts. That said though I actually found it hard to have sympathy for the people in Strickland's life, with the possible exception of Shroeve, the buffoonish little Dutch painter who is far too kind for his own good, and who Strickland tramples all over sadistically. The women in Strickland's life come across as a vacuous lot, none of them with the nerve to get what they want out of him and then tell him to go to hell. I also found some of the Tahiti scenes quite tedious, that sort of thing has been done so many times now and it's not that interesting. By contrast the Parisian scenes are absolutely marvellous, very akin to Zola. This must have been a brave novel for Maugham to write at the time, with its lack of sympathetic characters (it's hard to even feel sorry for Strickland's abandoned wife or his suicidal mistress, as neither are very warm or pleasent) and an even remotely likeable central character, but it works ... well until we get to Tahiti anyway!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 Aug. 2014
By 
HK (Dorset UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
i like all somerset maugham
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gauguin by any other Name, 5 Mar. 2011
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J. A. Findlay (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon and Sixpence (Paperback)
This book was suggested by a member of my book club who had seen the Gauguin exhibition at the Tate. I enjoyed reading the novel although it was somewhat over-written and slow-moving. The book itself was in excellent condition when I received it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 23 Aug. 2014
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Mrs. B. G. Smith (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon And Sixpence (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)
Read this years ago asI did the other books by him, never fail to please.
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