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Publisher's Summary

There have been few masters of the short story as popular as W. S. Maugham. His dry wit, worldweary loftiness, pungent cynicism, and penetrating powers of observation have contributed to the creation of some of the greatest short stories ever written.

Over a long period, Maugham continued to write stories that were highly interesting and controversial. With a creative verve for plot development and a jaded eye for the foibles of mankind, Maugham's stories crackle with the irrepressible energy of a master story teller.

All of Maugham's short stories in this and subsequent volumes will be presented in the order in which they were published, beginning in 1921.The stories in Volume One are:

  • 1. Rain
  • 2. The Fall of Edward Barnard
  • 3. Mackintosh
  • 4. Red
  • 5. Honolulu
  • 6. The Pool
  • 7. The Letter
  • 8. Before the Party
  • 9. The Force of Circumstance
  • 10. The Outstation
  • 11. The Yellow Streak
  • 12. P. & O.
  • 13. Jane
  • 14. The Round Dozen
  • 15. The Creative Impulse

The Complete Short Stories, Volume One will continue in volumes two and three.

All stories not in public domain are the property of and published by agreement with the W. Somerset Maugham Royalty Trust.

Public Domain (P)2013 Audio Connoisseur

What listeners say about The Complete Short Stories, Volume One

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A masterful production of Maugham's short stories.

Charlton Griffin narrates these short stories by W. Somerset Maugham with a keen sense for each character's delivery. Griffin's love of this author shines through his Audio Connoisseur recording.

To listen to these works is to be transported to the Pacific Islands and various ports in Asia. Maugham spent much of his life in this part of the world. He found the mixture of cultures there in the early 20th Century to be fascinating, absurd, tragic and mysterious. One can never predict how the typical Westerner will react to the pressures of such strange, tropical surroundings. Maugham made much of this, but never went for the simple surprise ending in his short stories. Many of these works are quite disturbing in their portrayal of the moral weakness of Westerners when immersed in the seeming anonymity of the Tropics.

13 people found this helpful

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Wonderful introduction to WSM

I'd never read anything by Somerset Maugham before, and after the first couple of stories I wondered what all the fuss was about. I'm glad I kept on, because the master storyteller soon emerged in subsequent tales and didn't let up. I will be moving on to the remaining volumes in this series as quickly as I can. The reader is sometimes a bit leaden, and there is an unnecessary musical soundtrack at the beginning and end of each tale, which comes across like a cheesy radio production. But all in all, this is wonderful stuff!

7 people found this helpful

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Acceptable....

On content there is nothing to argue with, it’s Somerset Maugham, the stories are excellent.

The narrator however frequently mispronounces standard English words (like ‘suit’ instead of ‘suite’ which completely alter the meaning of a sentence). He makes horrible attempts at accents like the awful “Scottish” accent applied to two of the characters in “Rain”. The unconvincing falsetto added to the “Scottish” woman’s lines adds another layer of absurdity that is deeply distracting.

2 people found this helpful

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A ruined reading

For me the reading was ruined by excessive and irrelevant 'music' (sometimes only beats or noise patterns) that preceded each story, the music even dribbling into the first sentences. The reader was adequate but I found the music distracting, annoying and certainly unnecessary. I returned this purchase to Audible.

2 people found this helpful

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Mixed reviews

Maugham is always a great story teller with a wonderful, evocative use of subtle language. Griffin's narration is superb and suits the atmosphere of this set of stories, set for the most part in the far east. Would have gotten five stars except for the introduction of unnecessary musical interludes, which were sufficiently annoying to consider not getting volumes 2 and 3.
David Evan Glasser

2 people found this helpful

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Awesome performance !

Loved every moment of it - Looking forward to listening to all of his books and traveling to those wonderful south sea islands !

4 people found this helpful

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I LOVE THIS AUTHOR!

I am writing this review before I finish listening because I'm finding this author a wonderful new friend. And I wanted to say that while the sound effects and musical interludes are unexpected, not necessary, I am enjoying them very much. I am a musician and sensitive to anything that would be too loud or vulgar or badly done. To my mind, whoever did the sounds was clever and creative with a sense of fun and drama. I love that dissonant chord that seems to say, "Oh, dear! Now what?"

Yes, this narrator has a problem with women's voices. He sounds like a man trying to speak falsetto. I have noticed that French and Japanese women still cultivate their voices. My friend Akiko sounded like little silver bells. Old recordings of Jackie Kennedy make her sound kitteny, like a kid wearing a pink angora sweater on a date! Hardly a powerful, educated woman! Griffin's women sound like that. So be it. This narrator is marvelous for the men's voices, all the accents, and the narration. He is fine by me and I will be downloading his version of "Of Human Bondage."

As for the stories, some leave me feeling better than others. All are well done. "The Outstation" has changed my life. As another reviewer put it, you notice characters similar to people you know and situations much like some you have lived with. I didn't find Warburton a snob! I admired him very much and fully understood his little routines for the preservation of sanity. As for Cooper, he is such a doofus, it costs him his life! Low class and going through life with his fists up! White socks with a dress suit and what he doesn't know probably doesn't count for much anyway! Har har! In him I saw a bit of myself, people from my hometown, George Dubbya Bush and now Trump. This story makes me want to shut up and smile and listen.

Offensive sexual stuff? Really? When? It must have been necessary to the story, and we are adults. I am finding Maugham to be whole-souled, a citizen of the world, who enjoys people and describes them wonderfully.

4 people found this helpful

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King of the short story, narrator can't do women

Somerset Maugham is by far my favorite story teller. His stories are masterpieces of constuction--it's no wonder so many were successfully made and remade as plays and movies. He traveled the world at the height of the British Empire, when it was still mysterious and each country had a distinct atmosphere not yet overrun with tourists and Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. His longer books tend to get bogged down in philosophy but the short stories I can read again and again.
My only complaint is the narrator. He was fine with male voices but when he is speaking for women he sounds like a schoolyard bully mimicking the new girl -- the same exagerated nasally whine for all the women characters, from glamourous femme fatales to cackling old crones. But if you can tune that out I recommend it highly.

10 people found this helpful

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Bizarre mispronunciations...

If you could sum up The Complete Short Stories, Volume One in three words, what would they be?

Classic Maugham stories often do a slow burn but worth going for the ride.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I especially love the stories set in colonial Malaya.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I would say this narrator is great but for some irksome mispronounciations. Every time he says ' ship's passage', he pronounces it pah-sage or 'chortle' becomes 'Kortle'. There are a hundred bizarro alternative readings of not-very-elevated english words. Bloody weird and a bit cringey. I think he's an American doing an excellent Brit accent (wonky Scots), but has not researched unfamiliar words. Shame, coz it's an epic commitment to read the full omnibus.

5 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Stories With a Twist

I’m inclined to think that it was William Somerset Maugham’s style - at least in short stories - to fantastically describe his characters and their locations with embedded clues to the inevitable twist coming near the end of his works. And his phrases are fantastic: “It was a sharp sensation, simulating to the appetite (like hot sauce with ice cream)...” and the culture and discussions among his characters are one with the times in which he describes them.

Nothing can be ill-said of Charlton Griffin. As a narrator, he has a beautiful voice that pronounces every syllable with precision and, especially with these stories, he takes on a character (male or female) and makes them his own. I will always love to hear his voice.

My only complaint about this is that not all of the short stories are here. The title says “Volume One,” but so does my book, and I only heard and read along with the first half of the stories. But this is my own fault for not digging a little deeper, I suppose. The short stories contained in this volume are: Rain, The Fall of Edward Barnard, Mackintosh, Red, Honolulu, The Pool, The Letter, Before the Party, The Force of Circumstance, The Outstation, P & O, Jane, The Round Dozen, and The Creative Impulse. I’m hoping the next 15 stories my book contains are in the next volume. Happy reading!

1 person found this helpful