iUniverse recognises that many writers who have been successful in the past unfortunately no longer receive proper attention. However, we believe that every successful writer is worth examining. With this in mind, today we begin a series called “Writers Lost and Found”, with the aim of reviving interest in these authors and showing why they are worth reading and emulating.
The first writer that iUniverse will start with is W. Somerset Maugham (pronounced “Mawm”), who wrote between 1890 and 1940. No doubt you may have heard of Maugham and even his most famous work, Of Human Bondage. For the first few decades of the 20th century, Maugham was one of the most famous writers in the English-speaking world and was able to make a living off of his writing.
Maugham is an excellent writer to read, for several reasons. He writes in a clear, smooth style that is also intelligent. Similar to Washington Irving, he sounds like a very well-educated person who is not trying to show off. His short stories – which number over a hundred — blend intrigue, humour, and occasionally murder and tragedy, and are relaxing to read. Maugham creates interesting, realistic characters who capture the reader’s interest.
The author also writes frequently about his countrymen in foreign lands, particularly the Far East and the South Seas. He is able to integrate exotic scenes with characters drawn from everyday life.
As with many writers, Maugham has fallen from popularity because of shifting tastes in the academic literary establishment. The latter, starting after World War II, began valuing works exclusively based on “deep” themes rather than clarity of writing, readability, or popularity. The result is that many entertaining writers (who earned a lot of money) have disappeared from the literary canon, while books such as Moby Dick – which was a commercial failure – are held in high esteem. This is not to say that Maugham does not address deep themes; he is just more direct than other writers and gives priority to the storytelling.
To start reading Maugham, iUniverse suggests beginning with his short stories, which was really the area where he shined most. Suggestions for getting started include:
The Vessel of Wrath
Footprints in the Jungle
A Marriage of Convenience
The Back of Beyond
The Fall of Edward Barnard
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We at iUniverse want to make sure you are acquainted with writers who were successful. Make sure to check out the iUniverse site for more guidance. iUniverse will be back with more writers in its “Writers Lost and Found” series.