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Fact is a poor story-teller as Maugham reminds us. Fact starts a story at random, rambles on inconsequently and tails off, leaving loose ends, without a. Ashenden or: the British Agent [W. Somerset Maugham] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. From dust jacket flap: First published in When war broke out in , Somerset Maugham was dispatched by the British Secret Service to Switzerland under the guise of completing a.

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It help here to know what contemporary readers did not – that he was gay. He stood at the door, looking up and down the platform and up at the clock; it was useless to go if his travelling companion did not turn up, and Ashenden made up his mind to take ashsnden things out of the carriage as the porter cried en voiture: However, the typography was very tiny.

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Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham, from Project Gutenberg Canada

He had charming manners and was much interested in the Fine Arts. His travelling companion is an American businessman called Harrington, who bores Ashenden with his talkativeness. The book ends on a dramatic and unexpected note. Each story has a message, varying from the subtle and thoughtful to those that are blatant and obvious. To spend time in the company of his writing is always a delight and ashendwn is a wonderful, charming set of stories — told with typical British reserve — but perhaps even more moving because of the understatement.

Once Ashenden had seen him in the old quarter of the city, with its silent houses and deserted streets, talking at a corner to a man whose appearance very much suggested the spy and he would have given a great deal to hear what they said to one another. Indeed this old lady looked so bland and innocent, with her corpulence, her fat red face, and her smiling good-natured mouth, it would have been a very astute detective who could imagine that if he took the trouble to put his hand deep down between those voluminous breasts of hers, he would find a little piece or paper that would land in the dock an honest old woman who kept her son out of the trenches by taking this risk and an English writer approaching middle-age.


But whatever happens you may be quite sure that I will not compromise you. Why is it that I’m drawn to the most mundane spy stories possible? I made no sign that I had noticed anything. Some of them are more captivating than others and part of the fun for me was trying to guess which aspects were based on true events and which parts were the fabrication. Ashenden, longing for a cosy meal in his own room, in slippers and with a book leaned up against a reading-lamp, was about to refuse when it occurred to him that under the circumstances it might be discreet to show himself in the dining-room that night.

If you do well you’ll get no thanks and if you get into trouble you’ll get no help.

Ashenden accompanied him to the door and as he shook hands the asnenden gave his prognosis in a pout of his bearded mouth. Your purchase helps support NPR programming. This fascinating, and delightful, book is often regarded as the first spy story and a precursor to Smiley and James Bond.

Ashenden – Book Review

Ashenden travels within Europe based on whatever task R. The notion was mysterious, but diverting, and as Ashenden played one rubber after another, joining in the incessant conversation, he watched what was said by himself no less closely than what was said by the others.

How many of those short Eastern lives must have run their course under her eyes and what dark secrets must she have known! Ashenden, though cited adhenden a work of fiction is almost Maugham’s memoirs of that period. Perhaps that is the real virtue of the book – out of conventional, even ashendn, tales of duty, courage and treachery, he teases out an underlying human reality.

Dec 09, Junaid Taj rated it it was ok. He had often heard people tell him that he possessed character and he reflected that people judge hastily in the affairs of life because they judge on insufficient evidence: The other guests do not like it and we must do all we can to prevent their knowing.

This British Spy Thriller Shows How Thrill-Less Spying Can Be

There is in fact a second theory that is just as plausible, and this is that fiction should use life merely as raw material which it arranges in ingenious patterns.


All in all,I would say this book is passable. The telephone had fallen too. It was left for the Impressionists to paint what they saw. As Ashenden remarks, although his travel companion is a bore, it is impossible to not end up liking him. The black eyes, and as he looked at them they seemed to glow mysteriously as though mugham were fire behind them, the eyes continued to hold him with that insistent stare.

It was as unsatisfactory as those modern novels that give you a number of unrelated episodes and expect you by piecing them together to construct in your mind a connected narrative. The night was stormy and the wind blew cold from the mountains, awhenden the stodgy little steamer plodded sturdily through the choppy waters of the lake. Of course it would not be very nice to spend two years in a Swiss prison, but the chance of this was, like assassination to kings, one of the inconveniences of his profession.

I do not say it in vanity. What were your movements at the time he was killed?

He was concerned with the beginning or the end of it, perhaps, or with some incident in the middle, but what his own doings led to he had seldom a chance of discovering. He travelled all over the world, and made many visits to America. This particular reader, however, thinks it qualifies as a novel. Snobbery Coming back to read English fiction after a prolonged dose of American, the most striking thing is the maubham confidence and smug superiority of the narrator.

This Week’s Must Read: ‘Ashenden,’ by Somerset Maugham : NPR

Ashenden somewhat ruefully took out a number of notes and handed them to the Mexican. The work of an agent in the Intelligence Department is on the whole extremely monotonous.

Pistols are owned but rarely fired; nor will you experience explosions or raunchy sex with beautiful women.