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other hand, I shall try to avoid the dead silence or incoherence that results from lack of any direction. To accomplish these ends, I shall welcome suggestions concerning topics for discussion, specific works that members of the Conference might read in arming themselves for what, I think, could be a most exciting war of scholarly worlds. If only we can see to it that the sleepers wake and help provide food for the scholarly gods. My own enthusiastic anticipation of the Chicago meeting on Wells, as you see, is threatening to overwhelm this paragraph with outrageous titular punning. H. G. Wells in August: The second number of EFT, space allowing, will contain about eighteen to twenty letters, mainly unpublished, by H.G. Wells, A collector who wishes to remain anonymous has generously made these letters available and has provided some notes on them. REVIEW W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM: A CANDID PORTRAIT, by Karl G. Pfeiffer. NY: Norton, 1958. $3.95. One of the difficulties in writing a biography of Somerset Maugham is that Maugham in THE SUMMING UP, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and in his essays and travel books has pretty much covered the subject. Mr. Pfeiffer, in his "candid portrait" leads us over the same well—traveled routes, offering little "factual" information that has not already received the imprimatur of Maugham in his personal writings. The supplement to this material is to a large extent a redaction of gossip' column witticisms attributed to the Old Party, woven into a rather tenuous fabric of personal recollections of quite brief and rare meetings between Pfeiffer and his subject. In his introductory chapter, Pfeiffer confesses that he may inadvertently have given the impression that he knew Maugham better than he actually did; and to be sure the reader is led to believe that a man who calls Maugham "Willie" constantly was at lsast'once held close to the bosom. Closer inspection, however, reveals that in fact Pfeiffer's basis for claiming to have been once Maugham's "official biographer " was based upon a jocular bridge-table remark, and his inside information gleaned from one or two visits and several dinners-out. All this might be forgivable hyperbole if the book had offered a penetrating literary evaluation of the controversial Mr. Maugham as an artist—but it does not. The gossipy sections of the book are interesting, but of a peculiarly personal nature which makes the reader alternately embarrassed both for Maugham and for Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer's candid portrait is not candid and his portrait seems more an old stereotype. —John Seward Fielden ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
p. 3
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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