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Publisher's Summary

William Somerset Maugham (1874�1965) was born at the height of British imperial power. When he died, the British Empire was all but a memory. In Maugham's lifetime, as his civilization slowly disappeared, people from all walks of life, the proud, the urbane, the crude, and the desperate, passed beneath the lens of his dispassionate scrutiny. Transformed into some of the most unforgettable literary works of the 20th century, his experiences re-emerged in his plays, fiction, and essays. No other writer possessed his keen ability of observation. It was an ability so well honed that his work makes you feel as if you have been drawn into an intimate conversation with the century's most arresting and sophisticated personality.

The Summing Up represents Maugham's life and philosophy in his own words. It is autobiographical in nature, though most of the work is concerned with Maugham's unique and fascinating opinions on the theater, writing, metaphysics, and the interesting people he encountered in his long and successful career. His style is very conversational and you feel yourself settling into an intellectual odyssey led by a man who lived life to its fullest. Sixty years after The Summing Up was published, Maugham's controversial insights and opinions continue to stimulate conversation and debate. This is one of the most entertaining, self-revealing pieces of all time.

(P)2000 Audio Connoisseur

Critic Reviews

"A treasure." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Portrait of the artist as an old man

Listening to "The Summing Up" is like sitting with Maugham in a dimly lit club room on a steamer slowly chugging across a distant sea. He is leisurely, even dilatory, in his deeply considered but gently offered reminiscences. His was the life of an artist--a self-conscious artist who intended to hone the skills of his art. He shares his thoughts on great writers of the past, and discusses the business of succeeding as a dramatist. The last section of this book is frankly philosophical. This book reminds one of an an autobiography written with the frankness of a man who thought it would never be read by others. Perhaps it feels so frank because it deals mostly with his thoughts, and so little with the events of his life. For example, this book never even mentions that he married and fathered a daughter, nor does it allude to the years he allegedly spent living with a homosexual lover.

As always, Charlton Griffin, who reads this book for us, is superb beyond description. He brings the perfect mixture of erudition and languor to the reading.

I highly recommend this recording for anyone who contemplates living the life of a writer.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Maugham magic

A wonderfully enriching voyage through Maugham's sensibility. A very rewarding listening experience as Maugham's opinions are well thought through, albe they of a certain time, but you find you have to take a stance and he causes one to think in new directions. Honest and very instructive as well.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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A thought provoking insight into one of the twentieth century Giants

I'm not a big fan of Maugham but found this book very interesting. It does reflect the continuing change of cultural sensitivities and norms.

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A profound book

A brilliant and moving summation of a brilliant and moving writer whose works are well worth reading. Highly recommended.

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Awful narration.

Would you listen to The Summing Up again? Why?

Interesting book by Somerset Maugham. Nearly destroyed by a narrator that noisily swallows, licks lips and makes disgusting mouth noises distracting me from the story. I am thinking about returning this book because of this. Wouldn't read this narrator again.

Would you be willing to try another one of Charlton Griffin’s performances?

No! See above.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • ElizabethLovick
  • 01-19-09

Interesting book, boring narrator

Make sure you listen to a good, long sample before you buy this book! The subject matter is, in the main, fascinating to any fan of Maugham. But here it is read by an American pretending to be English - and he gets it wrong time and time again, both pronounciation of individual words and the cadances of phrases.

In the autobiographical sections of the book I found I could overlook the narration, but in the sections when he discusses metaphysics, the narration obscured the meaning time and time again, and I found my mind wandering.

If you can cope with the narration, a fascinating book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful