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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 (314 )
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4.3 (170 )
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  •  
    Verl 03-29-11
    Verl 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?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave 04-07-09
    Dave 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 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    philippe 03-09-11
    philippe 03-09-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "superb rendition"

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

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim 04-17-13
    Tim 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
  •  
    01-13-12
    01-13-12 Member Since 2010
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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 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirsten 03-18-14
    Kirsten 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 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    IRP 03-08-14
    IRP 03-08-14 Member Since 2006

    IRP

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book, Splendid Narration"

    This is the only book of Maugham's that I have actually read (kindle e reader), listened to (audible) and seen the movie (Tyrone Power and Bill Murray versions). I found this audio book version to be the best of the three mediums. Narration was outstanding and I felt more involved with the story and characters than I did with the book and the movies. I would recommend this recording to anyone with any interest in Maugham's books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. Perry Hall 02-11-14 Member Since 2012

    S. Quire

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Self-Sacrifice, the most overwhelming passion"

    When purchasing this, I considered that I watched the movie with Bill Murray in what I recall as his first real foray into serious acting. I was impacted by that movie, though I have few memories of it. So I decided to purchase both the book and the audiobook.

    In the novel, the narrator tells the story of Larry Darrell, who was severely affected by the death of his friend, another soldier in WWII. He comes to several self-realizations through time and travels over continents and religions. The book has a brief emotional pull from his lost love, his fiancee Isabel, who turns out to be deficient in character, and from his engagement to Sophie, a wayward girl from Chicago who Larry and the group of the characters meet one night at a bar in Paris. She'd lost her husband and her way through various chemicals and bedfellows.

    One thing I will always recall from this novel was the keen observation of man or woman's desire to save someone through sacrifice of self, when referring to the grip of passion over Larry who by becoming engaged to marry Sophie is trying to "save the soul of a wanton woman whom he'd known as an innocent child."

    **
    "... self-sacrifice is a passion so overwhelming that beside it even lust and hunger are trifling. It whirls its victim to destruction in the highest affirmation of his personality. The object doesn't matter; it may be worthwhile or it may be worthless. No wine is so intoxicating, no love so shattering, no vice so compelling. When he sacrifices himself man for a moment is [or believes himself to be] greater than God, for how can God, infinite and omnipotent, sacrifice himself? At best he can only sacrifice his only begotten son."
    **

    If you've known someone who's fallen for someone else to save him or her, it's quite likely you will likely agree with this statement. The person was sucked into a whirlwind leading, more often than not, to tragedy.

    I recommend this book with 4.5 stars, with the proviso that it does get slow in places. I thought the narrator was good, but his narration gets taxing in parts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    steven 01-06-14
    steven 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 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 12-27-13
    Andrew 12-27-13 Member Since 2010

    Westport, CT

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
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