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The Razor's Edge | [W. Somerset Maugham]

The Razor's Edge

The Great War changed everything and the years following it were tumultuous - most of all for those who lived the war first-hand. Maugham himself is a character in this novel of self-discovery and search for meaning, but the protagonist is a character named Larry. Battered physically and spiritually by the war, Larry's physical wounds heal, but his spirit is changed almost beyond recognition.
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Publisher's Summary

The Great War changed everything and the years following it were tumultuous - most of all for those who lived the war first-hand. Maugham himself is a character in this novel of self-discovery and search for meaning, but the protagonist is a character named Larry. Battered physically and spiritually by the war, Larry's physical wounds heal, but his spirit is changed almost beyond recognition.

He leaves his betrothed, the beautiful and devoted Isabel. He studies philosophy and religion in Paris. He lives as a monk. He witnesses the exotic hardships of Spanish life. All of life that he can find - from an Indian Ashrama to labor in a coal mine - becomes Larry's spiritual experiment as he spurns the comfort and privilege of the Roaring '20s.

Maugham's theme is the contrast of spiritual content between Larry and the growing materialism and sophistication of those he left behind - and the surprising irony of where both of those paths lead.

©2003 W. Somerset Maugham; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (349 )
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4.3 (202 )
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  •  
    Dave Bartlett, IL, USA 04-07-09
    Dave Bartlett, IL, USA 04-07-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book changed the way I look at life."

    This is deeply subjective. We all are effected differently, but there are a few books that cause us to see life in a different way. I mean to really open our eyes and change us in an indescribable way. Well, for me, this is one of those books. I re-read the physical book and re-listen to this excellent audio version periodically and feel so very lucky to have it in my life. You may or may not have the same experience, but I cannot recommend this book with greater enthusiasm. I am a better person for having read it.

    25 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Verl COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 03-29-11
    Verl COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 03-29-11 Member Since 2008

    Reader and Writer from Colorado Springs carefully disguised as a financial advisor all these years. Who knows what lies below a snowy rooftop?

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    "Best of the Best"

    Rarely do I go out of my way to recommend books to friends. More rarely a book written by an English writer published in 1944. No action novel this, but I've been talking about it to friends even since before I finished it. It's on a par with The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's earlier work of the same era, the Jazz Age. And let me say if Elizabeth Gilbert had gotten it right, she might have written Razor's Edge. If you liked her book, you should love this one. If you hated her book, as I did, you may still love Somerset Maugham's book if the subject of man's journey to enlightenment is your cup of tea. Beyond the literary value and the weight of the tome, the narrator in this edition is the best narrator I've listened to, possessed of a vocal range that makes this audio book a rare treat. If you're still reading this review, then I think you'll love the book. Give it a shot!
    v

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Fremont, NE, United States 04-17-13
    Tim Fremont, NE, United States 04-17-13 Member Since 2004

    Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.

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    "A Classic!"

    I had run into this story by accident when renting the newer version of the movie (with Bill Murray). I liked it so well that I rented the earlier version (with Tyrone Powers?) and loved it just as much, even thought the two are somewhat different.

    Definitely a thought-provoking book, no matter what your position on matters of theology. In one sense, the book is summed up by a statement Larry (the main character) makes partway through the book. He says he is searching to find out if there really is a God, because everything else in life depends on the answer to that question (my paraphrase).

    While you may or may not agree with Larry's final conclusion about God and morality, the search he goes through, and his commitment to REALLY search for the truth make for a great read. The characters around him, who are on a much different journey - seeking position, power and wealth - really contrast the "examined" and the "unexamined" life.

    It is also an interesting literary device to have the author actually appear as a character in the story - something I don't think I've seen before.

    If you've seen the movies, the book is much truer to the black and white adapatation.

    Regardless of my differences in theology with the book, it was a great read and really makes you think!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    philippe 03-09-11
    philippe 03-09-11 Member Since 2010
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    "superb rendition"

    i enjoyed the book 30 years ago. the author would be proud of this narrator.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 10-24-14
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 10-24-14 Member Since 2009

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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    "What to say, What to say?"

    As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun . . . While I found this book quite interesting, particularly the historical accounts of WWI and pre and post depression America and Europe, I ultimately found the characters doing what all of humanity has always done . . . chase their tails like cats. There was nothing truly profound or enlightening here, just men and women doing what the human race has always done, seeking self gratification. In the beginning I really liked Larry, well, I even liked him in the end, but by then, I found him to be more like a 1970s hippie, than an injured soul seeking spiritual understanding. Wandering around life with few human attachments, thinking he has lived lives in other bodies, etc. I had hoped that he would find God, the ONE true God. But it didn't happen. Having said all that, Larry's choices and that of all the other friends in the author's tale are not upheld, justified, nor scolded . . . only told . . . and that is the only salvation for this book . . . and the one reason that I could find it an enjoyable listen. The era is one of turmoil, of changes, of a time, particularly in Europe, that I find fascinating . . . that's the part I enjoyed most.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 08-14-14
    David H Palo Alto, CA United States 08-14-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An interesting if very introspective book."

    I found my reaction to this book deeply introspective. I'll admit I've seen the Bill Murray film version some time ago, so that had me interested in reading the original novel. I can't say I recall whether the film is all that faithful to the book. The book could have been quite tedious with the social lives of the well to do, but the author is careful not to dwell too much on all that. There are many delightful characters, and I found some connection to Larry and his quest. I imagine if you're not particularly curious about deeper questions this book would be an utter bore. I appreciate the author presenting ideas, while I felt him to be careful not to make his own opinions to be too obvious, letting me decide whether Larry has followed the "right" path. I greatly enjoyed reading, and am glad to have selected this work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Wesport, CT, United States 12-27-13
    Andrew Wesport, CT, United States 12-27-13 Member Since 2010

    Westport, CT

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    "Great Story"

    This was a decent audibook, kept me interested, watching the 1944 film now, the film is a bit too compressed. I bought this on on the $4.95 sale but I would pay full price after reading it. The book is concerned with meaning of life themes, like the "Circle of Iron Film" written by Bruce Lee before his death, also like many Herman Hess novels.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-13-12
    01-13-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Charming, and Real"

    It was a great story. Each character had something in which I could relate to. The reader was excellent. This book persuaded me to downloaded a couple other books by W. Somerset Maugham. Ill keep listening.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    steven West Hempstead, NY, United States 01-06-14
    steven West Hempstead, NY, United States 01-06-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Dry White Toast"
    Any additional comments?

    It was a mistake to have a British narrator speak the american character's dialogue without attempting an accent...The author also did not capture my attention with the plot or charaters at all.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirsten Tahuya, WA, United States 03-18-14
    Kirsten Tahuya, WA, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Great story and great narrator"
    Where does The Razor's Edge rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best


    What other book might you compare The Razor's Edge to and why?

    none


    What about Michael Page’s performance did you like?

    His voice and expression captured the characters and the tone of the story very well. Enjoyable to listen to.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes - I did listen to it frequently and wanted to return as soon as possible.


    Any additional comments?

    A truly unique story - fills in from the Bill Murray movie.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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