The Magician

The Magician

by W. Somerset Maugham, Robert Calder

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First published in 1908, "The Magician" is one of the early novels of W. Somerset Maugham, a Frenchman who lived from 1874 to 1965. Although his popularity was at its highest in the 1930s, this novel is a clear precursor of the simplistic, often haunting method of writing that brought him fame. This tale revolves around the magician Oliver Haddo, a man living in the bohemian Paris of the beginning of the twentieth century. Haddo, a caricature of the disreputable black magician Aleister Crowley of Maugham's day, makes a sinister attempt to create life. The author tells this story to remarkable effect, combining the weird and ghastly with the pure and sweet aspects of ordinary life in an effortless and genuine way. Though actually written in London, this novel reveals the café society of Paris in such a way that demonstrates the intimate knowledge of Maugham, who lavished his considerable skill as a writer on this surprisingly lesser known of his works.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101201466
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/27/2007
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 538 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) lived in Paris until he was ten. He was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and at Heidelberg University. He afterwards walked the wards of St. Thomas's Hospital with a view to practice in medicine, but the success of his first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), won him over to letters. Something of his hospital experience is reflected, however, in the first of his masterpieces, Of Human Bondage (1915), and with The Moon and Sixpence (1919) his reputation as a novelist was assured.

His position as one of the most successful playwrights on the London stage was being consolidated simultaneously. His first play, A Man of Honour (1903), was followed by a procession of successes just before and after the First World War. (At one point only Bernard Shaw had more plays running at the same time in London.) His theatre career ended with Sheppey (1933). His fame as a short-story writer began with The Trembling of a Leaf, sub-titled Little Stories of the South Sea Islands, in 1921, after which he published more than ten collections.

W. Somerset Maugham's general books are fewer in number. They include travel books, such as On a Chinese Screen (1922) and Don Fernando (1935), essays, criticism, and the self-revealing The Summing Up (1938) and A Writer's Notebook (1949). He became a Companion of Honour in 1954.

Robert Calder is professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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