The Razor's Edge

The Razor's Edge

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by W. Somerset Maugham

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Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of his spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brilliant characters - his fiancée Isabel whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions, and Elliott Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob.  Maugham himself wanders in and


Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of his spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brilliant characters - his fiancée Isabel whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions, and Elliott Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob.  Maugham himself wanders in and out of the story, to observe his characters struggling with their fates.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Maugham is] a great artist . . . a genius.” –Theodore Dreiser

“[Maugham’s] excessively rare gift of story-telling . . . is almost the equal of imagination itself.” –The Sunday Times (London)

“It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham. . . . He was always so entirely there.” –Gore Vidal

“Maugham remains the consummate craftsman. . . . [His writing is] so compact, so economical, so closely motivated, so skillfully written, that it rivets attention from the first page to last.” –Saturday Review of Literature

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

Cyril Connolly
Mr. Maugham paints with a lingering tenderness, right down to the wonderful death scene which is a kind of farewell offering....Here at last is a great writer...determined to tell the truth in a form which releases all the possibilities of his art.

Meet the Author

W. Somerset Maugham was one the twentieth century’s most popular novelists as well as a celebrated playwright, critic, and short story writer. He was born in Paris but grew up in England and served as a secret agent for the British during World War I. He wrote many novels, including the classics Of Human Bondage, Cakes and Ale, Christmas Holiday, The Moon and Sixpence, Theatre, and Up at the Villa.

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The Razor's Edge 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For years, this has been the book that I buy every time I find it so I can put it on my shelf in preparation to share it with friends looking for a good book to read. This story centers around four main characters (two men and two women) coming of age during and immediately following WWI. All four live a comfortable lifestyle until the two men experience the unthinkable as they work as field medics, ambulance drivers. My favorite character, Larry Darryl, returns from his ambulance-driving experience uncomfortable with the luxuries to which he was previously accustomed. Soon after his return, he decides to 'loaf' despite his female admirer's chagrin. Larry takes the road less traveled by exploring the world with little to no regard to the lifestyle Americans find so enchanting prior to the Great Depression...and without judging the people who come in and out of his life sometimes at their very lowest points. His former love marries the other man in hopes of achieving the social stature she craves. I won't give any more of the story away. The reason why I love it so much is that Larry could have lived the comfortable life, but he chose to do something uncomfortable so he could really experience life and people as they are. When I feel stuck in my comfortable American notions of the way life is supposed to be, I read this book and think about the difficult path that Larry took. Unpopular, imperfect, real.
Guest More than 1 year ago
W. Somserset Maugham's magnificent prose and ability to condense such an important theme into so short a story simply justifies his eminence as one of the greatest writers of all time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very captivating book. Great for lovers of classics, tragedies, mysteries, biographies. This book is highly original in its format, a fascinating way to tell a story. Interesting twists will keep the reader involved until the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is first and foremost, British, all the while its main characters are predominately Americans. The setting is mostly based in metropolitan Cities (Chicago, Paris, London, and French Rivera) and the story comes to the reader through dialogues of its characters. We live alongside the American aristocricy in Paris, their social arenas and 'snobby' characters one main foil character to our protagonist (see below) is Elliott. Elliot the wealthy art collector who even upon death's doorstep, believes heaven will not be so unreasonable as to omit distinctions of class. Moreover the key feature of this book is that it is told in First person, Maugham himself being the narrator. This narration by its quiddity is limited. We lose the action of the events as they actually happen, if that goes then so does the experience of witnessing the story taking place (e.g. a 3rd person omniscient narrator). We are trapped into an individuals head, the narrator, and are limited to his interpretations of the events. As dead_poet above outlined very well, the substance of the plot. I will only add that the protagonist, Larry, is one of the great protagonists of all literature, especially for young people. He is unconventional among his bourgeois peers, (e.g. his behavior, ideals, and upbringing), A self proclaimed 'loafer', seeking out life's real answers to suffering, God, and purpose, he is a man truly awake and awoken by the death of a comrade in the Great War. He never seemed to be the same after that event. He didn't take on a career or college, ending up spiraling eastward ending in defaulting his fortune for freedom's sake and aspiring a coveted position as 'taxi driver'. Larry and his persona made the book, made me dare to dream for something more than the status quo career, money, religion and seek (but not reveal) hard answers to life's unanswerable questions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly excellent read. I believe Salvadore Dali' must have read this book. His book HIDDEN FACES seems to echo some of the rich characterizations here. It may do well for our generation of war ravaged young people to read this. Men sometimes drift after witnessing the destructiveness of combat. This book deals with the destructiveness of World War I and its affect on Hemingway's LOST GENERATION.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's just the greatest. It displays human nature and the wonder of life perfectly. I loved it and the movies good too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it. Saw both the original& remake. Am loving the book.
Bcbtree More than 1 year ago
A look into l930's of life of the aristocracy before and after the world market crash in Europe and the U.S. Very wordy and descriptive with a look at what is and isn't important in life. A good read after 50 years passing since first read.
audreylou More than 1 year ago
A simply wonderful account of the author's relationships with the characters he writes about. After seeing them movie on TV recently I felt I needed to read the book. The movie stays pretty much true to the book as it not often the case. After seeing the film the characters have so much more depth when reading about them.
Da_Greek More than 1 year ago
One of the best ways I feel I can describe this book is simply that it's like a stream of truth, with a current never pulling you along, but always gentle in its form. Some novels will leave their messages and themes to be interpreted in some esoteric manner, or on the opposite of the spectrum be too obvious with their themes, but this work finds a balance. The reader will never find him or herself in a place where they have lost track of where they are, and what the book is doing, but on a philosophical level, it's level of insight is consistently top notch from opening to close. I found reading the book to be an intimate experience; the narrators world is thoroughly understood, and through the narrator all the other characters thoroughly understood as well. The entire book is driven simply by the emotional lives of the characters, varied enough so that any reader will easily find elements of his or her own life within the characters' experiences. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is looking to increase their knowledge of the modern human experience.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Razor's Edge came recommend to me from a source I trust. And while it hasn't made my list of greatest books written, it is a good book to read. It's tough to give a synopsis of the book, since like so many other British writers there isn't much of a plot, more of a portrait of a group within society. I guess you could say it is the story of Larry Darrell's search for God. But it only touches on spiritual matters. It doesn't go into the discussion we hope for. (If you're looking for a treatise on spirituality, read Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, and Anne Rice's Tale of the Body Theif) Maugham himself is a character and narrator of the book. He sort of reminds me of Nick in The Great Gatsby, but only a little. Maugham is a part of the action, but still separate from it. What this book reminds me of is a work by Jane Austen, but written better (I'm known for my dislike of Austen's work). I don't really get into Brit lit from the 18th and 19th centuries, but this book reminds me of that period. But written in such a way I found I enjoyed it. There isn't much linear structure to the novel. A lot of the action takes place in flashback, or in stories told in flashbacks. But Maugham keeps the reader from being confused. The book reads like a book. You know how some stories draw you in, to the point where you are a part of the story? The Razor's Edge isn't like that. You always feel like you are reading a book written by the narrator or that the narrator is telling you the story. There is a distance between the reader and the narrator and the narrator and the story. I think that is what holds the book back.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very inspiring and a good read for anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Actions the focus we watch the play not take part nor are the actors lives of any interest. Most of his stories are like this and the movies often did the same with an actor narrator as somerset
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Sorry result three is a double result.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maugham's tale of a man looking for answers after experiencing the horrors of war is timeless. Following Larry Darrow's path to redemption will leave you refreshed, and able to find hope again, in world where cynicism is often praised, and spiritualists can often be derided.
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Pucho More than 1 year ago
Excellent book written almost 100 years ago, followed by an academy award winning film starring Tyrone Powers. I wish I had read it 30 years ago when I was just a young military man with no idea where my life was heading.
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