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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 (427 )
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4.4 (269 )
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Performance
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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.

    26 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Fremont, NE, United States 04-17-13
    Tim Fremont, NE, United States 04-17-13 Member Since 2014

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!

    5 of 5 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 2011

    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

    10 of 11 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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-22-14
    Philip Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-22-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Classic!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Razor's Edge to be better than the print version?

    The audio performance is excellent.


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

    War and Peace in that it effortlessly transports the listener to a France of society and class.


    If you could rename The Razor's Edge, what would you call it?

    A Journey to Success


    Any additional comments?

    The character accents as exceptionally well done.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 10-24-14
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 10-24-14 Member Since 2013

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg 06-29-15
    Greg 06-29-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Feast your ears"

    The reader was exceptional- he was beyond maintaining clarity, but created an interesting distinction between characters and used a great deal of expression. I found myself thinking with a English inclination after awhile of listening.

    The plot of the story was not one of great suspense or intensity- instead we stepped into the characters lives and picked apart their inner workings. Throughout the novel one gets a chance to question spirituality, purpose, reality, and relationships. The plot was slow- but my mind never drifted off. There is no doubt that Maugham could write about anything or nothing and he would still have my attention. This listen is surely brain food and comforting to revisit, but is certainly not a listen that would satisfy those with constant and veracious need for exciting stimulation. Rather, it slowly but surely hooks you before you've realized it has even casted it line.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    terry 06-19-15
    terry 06-19-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awakening to the real presence of God within"

    These many parallel stories of each persons pursuit of happiness balances, without judgment, the mean seeking with the higher calling of God on the hearts of all men.
    It opens, for those with ears to hear, that larger possibility.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shane 04-26-15
    shane 04-26-15
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    "Beautiful concept of what is really important."

    This book was well ahead of it's time, as the West had not embraced Eastern thinking by this point. The author did a great job of inserting himself into the narrative just enough to add credence to the storyline. Larry is a beautiful, naive , simple, yet complex being. I love the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger 12-08-14
    Roger 12-08-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not a "Timeless" Classic"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I found the book to be a bit of a bore and the perspective that the author took to describe the main charactor was not ideal. The spiritual journey is a personal one and the view should be from an internal perspective. That would have been far more insightful and enjoyable than this spectators view.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I could totally relate to Larry and his spiritual quest, but as I said above, it would have been a better book told through "his" perspective instead of the author's.


    Have you listened to any of Michael Page’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I thought that Michael Page did an outstanding job on this performance.


    Did The Razor's Edge inspire you to do anything?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was probably more interesting when it was first published. Now we are all so familier with the religions of the East, namely Hinduism and Buddhism, the book is quite dated. There are a few good lines and it is quality writing, but were it published today, I doubt it would be nearly as popular.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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