Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Errata: Stott & Maugham (1973): Section A

Kaye & Ward, Hardback, 1973.
8vo. 320 pp. Revised and Extended edition.

Section A: 
Books and Pamphlets by W. Somerset Maugham

We may start with the total. There are many places on the Web where you can find the preposterous statement that Maugham wrote 78 books. Since Mr Stott's bibliography has a first section with exactly 78 entries, the rumour probably originated with him. It is quite untrue and the bibliographer is indeed to blame.

To begin with, only 69 of these 78 are unique works. The rest consists of previously published short stories reprinted as pamphlets (A48, A55, A62), reprinting of a single short story in an anthology (A43), old stuff plus new screenplays not written by Maugham (A68, A71, A73), works only translated/adapted by Maugham (A75) and, most amazingly, a booklet (A76) sold in the theatre where the opera The Moon and Sixpence, based on Maugham's novel but otherwise having no connection with him, was first performed. None of these works should have been included in this section.

Of the rest 69 works, 24 are plays and 4 are pamphlets. It is sensible to list them separately, perhaps, but none of them is substantial enough to be counted as a full-length book. But the rest 41 certainly are: 20 novels, 9 short story collections, 3 travel books and 9 volumes with essays/memoirs/etc. To these one may add the three volumes of The Collected Plays (1952, B18), even though they contain only 18 plays, and two very important post-Stott books that consist entirely of previously uncollected pieces by Maugham: Seventeen Lost Stories (1967) and A Traveller in Romance (1984). So, for lovers of statistics, we may conclude that Maugham wrote 46 books, plus minor miscellaneous pieces scattered here and there.

So much for the quantitative analysis. Now something about the quality. We may start with Mr Stott at his most high-handed:

The notable fact about Mrs Craddock is that it is the only one of this author's early novels (with the possible exception of Liza) that is today at all readable.

You are forgetting yourself, Raymond. You are a bibliographer, not a critic. Needless to say, if one is seriously interested in Maugham, pretty much all of his early novels are quite readable, including some dull ones like The Explorer, The Magician or The Making of a Saint. Mr Stott, however, is quite right that Maugham's third novel is the first one where ''unexpected flashes of the later Maugham, with his worldly wisdom and uncanny, intuitive understanding of human nature'' can be glimpsed.

A5 Mrs Craddock (1902). As pointed out by Norman Moore in the notes to his stupendous collection, the original version of the novel, with the omitted passages restored but also with many new corrections by Maugham, first appeared in 1928, not in 1937 (TCE). The same goes for the preface which, as mentioned by Mr Stott, was further expanded for the 1955 edition.

A37 Ashenden (1928). Oddly enough, Mr Stott gives full contents of the book, but he never makes it clear that in the volumes with Complete/Collected short stories 15 of the 16 chapters were merged into the six well-known, and longish, tales. Follow this link for more info on that.

A60 Strictly Personal (1941). Mr Stott rightly points out that the English edition contains a letter to Eddie Marsh (by way of preface) which is not to be found in the American one. But he doesn't mention the more important fact that the former edition lacks the whole fifteenth chapter; apparently Heinemann were outraged by the candid portrait of (presumably) Godfrey Winn and feared libel issues. The chapter consist mostly of a devastating conversation every bit as good as a play. The letter to Eddie is not enough of compensation. So if you must get one edition of this book, get the Doubleday one.

A68 Quartet (1948). This is one of the three volumes which consist of previously published stories and screenplays not written by Maugham (with the possible exception of ''The Verger'' from Trio, 1950). Anyway, Mr Stott and I have apparently seen different versions of the movie ''Quartet''. In my copy, part of the 3 DVD box available, Maugham's introductions to the four stories, all printed in the book, are omitted on the screen. Only his conclusion and part of his general introduction (''In my twenties the critics…'') are retained. Either these parts of the screenplay were never shot and Mr Stott never actually saw the movie, or they were shot all right but were cut somewhere during the long way to the DVD release.

(In the other two movies, Trio and Encore, Maugham's introductions are retained as they are printed in the books, and as pointed out by Mr Stott.)


  1. I have the US ed. of Strictly Personal and indeed chapter 15 is one of my favourites. How is the letter to Eddie Marsh? Does it have anything to do with the one collected in A Traveller in Romance?

    1. The letter to Eddie Marsh is an original piece, not reprinted anywhere else so far as I know, but it hardly contains anything that Maugham's two appreciations in "A Traveller in Romance" don't. He insists that he intended the book solely for the American public and had no intention of publishing it in England but was later persuaded to allow this. He is grateful to Eddie for having improved his English and hesitates to send him the first book for many years of which he hadn't corrected the proofs. He makes an amusing, but cryptic, reference to "a composer in this country, better known for his copious output than for his originality, that it would be a bad day for American music when he lost his memory". I'd love to know who that was. The letter's signed "Yours affectionately, / W.M. / New York, November 12th, 1941." I will post photos of it soon (perhaps together with the notorious chapter 15).