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Far Eastern Tales (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 4 May 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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  • The Malayan Trilogy: "Time for a Tiger", "Enemy in the Blanket", "Beds in the East" (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (4 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099282844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099282846
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"If all else perish, there will remain a storyteller's world...that is exclusively and forever Maugham, a world of verandah and prahu which we enter as well as we do that of Conan Doyle's Baker Street, and with a happy and eternal homecoming" (The Times)

"Maugham teases out buried secrets as mesmerising as the heat and as menacing as the surrounding jungle" (Observer)

"Ideally you should listen to these stories lying in a long cane chair on the veranda of a dark bungalow sipping a gin and bitters - not that Maugham's writing needs any further atmospheric embellishment. Like Kipling and Conrad, Maugham transports us to a long-since-vanished and distinctly non-PC world of hard-drinking colonial planters and traders and their frosty memsahibs" (Guardian)

Book Description

Mesmerising short stories by this neglected 20th century master

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This collection of short stories from Somerset Maugham contains ten tales, predominantly relating bizarre adventures undertaken by British ex-patriots living or traveling in colonial South-East Asia.

With stories including the intriguingly titled "Footprints In The Jungle", "P. & O." and "The End Of The Flight", Maugham gives a glimpse as to what life was like in the tropics during the 1920's and 1930's for the usually well-to-do "foreigners". However, it is not what his time traveling describes on the surface that is memorable, it is what is going on inside the heads of his characters - especially the women. In the majority of his novels, Maugham regularly produced seemingly "normal" women on the outside, but this calm exterior did not match what they were thinking, feeling or planning.

The tales differ in length, some are just a few pages, and others are much more substantial. This mixture makes for interesting and less predictable reading. And, the stories differ in content and theme. There are crime stories, mysterious deaths, comic tales and stories of ill-fated marriages. "The Door of Opportunity" is wonderful, in which a woman discovers that her husband is significantly more flawed than she thought he would be. "The Buried Talent" is delightful, where two middle-aged friends from the past reminisce about their lives, and realise what their major missed opportunities were. And "Neil MacAdam", in which a youthful Scottish man is seduced by the Russian wife of his benefactor.

The stories are mostly born of Maugham's personal travel experiences in Malaya, Singapore, Borneo and other remote outposts of the old British Empire.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Perhaps my enjoyment of the book owes in part to the fact that I lived in Malaysia many years ago, but that couldn't possibly influence the pure pleasure anyone would get from Maugham's writing. His stories unfold in an uncomplicated way then conclude with unexpected outcomes. I like that sometimes I have to create an ending for myself.
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I love Maugham. Such great stories!!!
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Format: Paperback
These stories give a good feel for colonial life in (what was then) Malaya and Borneo, in the times when you talked about turning on the "electric light" and taking a bath meant going into a woodenbath house (I am not sure why but it was always underneath the bedroom) and throwing buckets of water over your head. It deals mainly with the personal problems faced by mid-ranking colonials, which were pretty severe as personal problems go - death, disgrace and miserable relationships. The only pleasures in life were getting drunk, playing tennis and bridge, and reading newspapers 6 weeks out of date. Altogether the book does a good job of disabusing romantic ideas of our colonial past. It has almost nothing in common with Passage to India and The jewel in the Crown Quartet.

The writing is competent but workmanlike. I enjoyed the book but don't feel inspired to read more of his work. If you want to read more about this subject a much better book is George Orwell's Burmese days.
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Format: Kindle Edition
"There is no place in Malaya that has more charm than Tanah Merah." I found this opening sentence of the first story, Footprints in the Jungle, very gripping and I was immediately hooked. Maugham's use of language is beautiful, evocative and lyrical and none of the stories disappoint.

These ten tales of people and their relationships were very much set in a bygone era. Predominantly focused on British people, their way of living was so different from the way that I live (even as an expat) it was like reading about a different culture. Great changes appear to have happened since this time and the issues of class and race sometimes made for uncomfortable reading.
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written work that really gives you the feeling of what SE Asia must have been like 75-100 years ago for the British (and other) colonials stationed there. In his various stories, Maugham puts us deep in the jungle, maintaining British traditions in order to stay "civilized" and shows us what happens when taken outside of our natural environment. After returning home from a year in Vietnam, I really enjoyed how this book transported me back to SE Asia.
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Format: Paperback
Another ten stories. I read these immediately following on from 'Rain and Other South Sea Stories' and they folllowed on very well. Again a very varied collection of stories of different lengths describing very different and complex human behaviour as in 'Footprints in the Jungle', and a simple but intense story as in 'The Force of Circumstance'. And then there is the very witty very short 'Mabel' which is almost an interlude. 'Mr. Know-all' was made into a short film, which I have on dvd. Another totally satisfying collection, superb entertainment.
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Great stuff. Hard to access the stories these days as Maugham has (for the moment, anyway) gone out of fashion. They transport one to a vanished world of gin slings, sola topees and tiffin, but human nature stays much the same, so they are not irrelevant and many of them pack an emotional punch.

A word of warning to the politically faint-hearted: prepare to be shocked...
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