Of Human Bondage | Critical Essay by Joseph Dobrinsky

This literature criticism consists of approximately 10 pages of analysis & critique of Of Human Bondage.
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Critical Essay by Joseph Dobrinsky

SOURCE: "The Dialectics of Art and Life in Of Human Bondage," in Cahiers Victoriens & Edouardiens, No. 22, October, 1985, pp. 33-55.

In the following essay, Dobrinsky discusses the ways in which Maugham's views on art and life are represented through his characters' actions in Of Human Bondage.

Due stress has been laid on the philosophic enlargment and formal progress that set this mature work [Of Human Bondage], written between 1912 and 1914, far above its unpublished rough copy of 1897, The Artistic Temperament of Stephen Carey. Both draw on, and yet swerve from autobiography, but too much could be made of the change of title to assume a shift from an artist hero to an everyman. In fact, the juvenile text had poked fun at the protagonist's intellectual snobberies and, on lines reminiscent of Thackeray's Pendennis, shown him to barter his artistic ambitions for a good match and the status of a countrysquire. Some of those ironies will be seen to have found their way, mutatis mutandis, into the ampler novel of apprenticeship. And, significantly, it should be kept in mind that the book's initial title, Beauty for Ashes, crossed out on the opening page of the manuscript, was only given up at a late stage, when the author, on his own admission, found "it had been recently used." I submit that Maugham's probe into the connections of art and life is not confined to the Montparnasse episodes. The way in which their novelized treatment of the problematics of the creative call anticipates the more central enquiries in The Moon and Sixpence and in the later artist novels, Cakes and Ale and Theatre, has been aptly commented upon. But into the bargain, and perhaps inevitably in a writer's fictionalized record of much of his own psychological growth, a many-faceted meditation on the art and life polarity underlies the fable. Its range, topical emphases and, partly unwitting, disclosures are the subjects of the present study.

What, in Maugham's conduct of this ample theme, is conventional and what is specific should be told apart.

His first target, the hero himself, as a passionate reader in boyhood of fairy-tales and romances, later confronted with the disenchantments of adult life, may be said to follow a via trita of realistic fiction. In this mode, Maugham's focus on the least romantic aspects of sex and the grim "facts" of destitution, disease, unidealized death, reveals affinities with, respectively, the manner of Samuel Butler and the pet themes of the French naturalists. But the charges of imitativeness sometimes levelled at the author should at least be qualified. For instance, the physical unattractiveness of most of the women in the novel (except for the notional Sally Athelny) may well have something to do with the novelist's own homosexual proclivities; while, for his descriptions of hospital scenes and life in the slums, he was able to draw on his first-hand—at times, distinctively humorous—juvenile observations. By and large, the autobiographical foundations of most of the story help to revive, particularize and enrich the old motifs.

In terms of Zeitgeist, the eye-opening experiences of the hero are thus faithfully related, in turn, to the moral ethos of the late Victorian province, to the aesthetic spirit of the nineties, and, during the telescoped episodes in Paris, to the rise of Impressionism and after. Beyond its historical interest, under the signature of a reminiscing witness of much of what is told, this period piece element is a factor of plausibility. Meanwhile, since he has clung closely to the essentials of his own psychological development—not only is Philip, like the Stephen of the earlier version, an uprooted and ill-loved orphan but also a cripple, estranged from his fellows by the limp that transmutes his creator's stammer—, Maugham has been able to draw less sketchily on self-analysis. With regard to the boy's (inherited) love of books—"he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading—"a major thematic see-saw is thus ushered in:" he did not know that he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world that would make the real world of everyday a source of bitter disappointment." Patently, a 'He' for an 'I', whose special concerns will be seen to break through.

For instance, the exposure of Philip's "idealism" is steeped in aesthetic ironies. This is even true of the (veracious) stages in the hero's loss of faith. When, as a boy in Kent, challenging the biblical literalism of his adoptive parents, he is said to shrug off the Book of Books as a first specimen of deceptive romance—"The text which spoke of the moving of mountains was one of those that said one thing and meant another."—the concurred-in stricture typically shows little patience with symbolic modes of writing. Then, at King's School (whose most famous pupil in the XIXth century has been Walter Pater), Philip's sensitiveness to "the beauty of faith" is tacitly referred to the author of The Renaissance: "the desire for self-sacrifice burned in his heart with such a gemlike glow." The Heidelberg chapters take up this motif. As an arch aesthete over-admired by his young compatriot, Hayward favours Roman Catholicism for the superior music of its Masses, the inspiring odour of their incense, and out of respect for the elegant prose of Cardinal Newman's Apologia: "Read it for the style—he advises Philip—not for its matter." Even though dictated by a variety of motives, Philip's ultimate repudiation of Christianity, his agnostic epiphany, as it were, is triggered off by Weeks's eye-opening epitome of their fellow-lodger's true creed: "He believes in the picturesque." A short cut from a Victorian nephew's jeers at "the beauty of religion" to his gradual and, I submit, incomplete jettisoning of the religion of beauty!

Hayward is pushed to the forefront in his embodiment of a misguided aesthetic as well as vital choice. On this double count, his thematic role in the whole novel should not be underrated. Even his futile death will be seen to lead his one-time admirer to his main philosophic enlightenment. Meanwhile, at the Heidelberg stage, this enriched and caricatured counterpart of Ellingham Brooks, a real-life acquaintance of the young Maugham, is insistently ridiculed as a spokesman for intellectual attitudes recanted by the middle-brow novelist of 1912. With his "faintly supercilious expression," his boundless admiration for Marius the Epicurean, his worship of the "fetish of culture," Hayward is pictured as a parrot-like exponent and aping practitioner of most of the tenets of the Art for Art's sake doctrine. On top of his fervour for Newman and Pater, the list of his literary and artistic admirations confirms him as the latter's uncritical disciple by admitting Flaubert, Arnold, Ruskin, Goethe, Botticelli into his Olympus. Parenthetically, the addition of G.F. Watts and Burne-Jones among the favourites of this effeminate figure of fun indiscriminately enrols the Pre-Raphaelites in the aesthetic set, from the simplifying point of view of a robuster creed. But, on Hayward's encumbered altar, the combined presence of the Rubáiyat of Omar Khayyám and Meredith's Richard Feverel—later derided for its idealized portrayal of love—sustains another assault. The ex-Cambridge man's verbosity and orotund speech—characterized by a "great flow of words," the disdainful assumption of a "vulgarity in plain words," and a delight in "the ring of his sentences" are related to the vagueness of his ideas and to a weak man's self-comforting attempt to euphemize the coarser realities. The indictment of "the Life Aesthetic," in its dangerous recoil from the vulgarities of ordinary existence, most patently merges with a rejection of an ornate style in the passage that precedes Philip's visit to, and horrified retreat from the red light district in Heidelberg. For Hayward had, tantalizingly, shown him

a sonnet in which passion and purple, pessimism and pathos were packed together on the subject of a young lady called Trude … and thought he touched hands with Pericles and Pheidias because to describe the object of his attention he used the word hetaira instead of one of those more blunt and apt, provided by the English language.

Beyond the educational motif—the need for a young man to face squarely the facts of life, in the narrow and broader senses—the issue is thus raised of the choice of a style apt to render their truth.

Two short developments, the first on "the New Drama"—enlisting Hayward as an aesthetic snob, anxious to keep up with the latest fashions—, the second, on Philip's discovery of Schopenhauer, attack another form of artificial fiction. Its appeal for a young Victorian, confined so far to a literature virginus puerisque, lies in its "sordid intensity," its daring account of the world as "a place of pitiless woe and darkness." Ibsen, especially, comes under fire, he is charged with a stereotyped characterization, a solemn tone and, in his dialogues, a bent for melodrama:

To Philip it was real life … a strange life, dark and tortured, in which a fair face concealed a depraved mind … the honest were corrupt, the chaste were lewd … There was no laughter … the characters expressed themselves in cruel words that seemed wrung out of their hearts …

In contrast to this inverted romanticism, too grimly focused on the ugly, the author conjures up the family atmosphere of a German tavern, to which the young man, still under the spell of grim performances, fails to respond: "There was a pleasant homeliness in the scene, but for this Philip had no eyes." Thus, in anticipation of his own ending, the novelist self-reflexively relates a more balanced vision to a soberer genre and to a plainer speech.

The polemical bias is patent here. Ostracized by the intelligentsia for renouncing the aesthetic manner and the higher drama, as a popular writer of "artificial" plays, Maugham is paying them back in their own coin by challenging the truthfulness of their favourite modes. This counter-attack will culminate in the vitriolic portrait of Leonard Upjohn, the highbrow critic whose elegant disquisitions on the life and works of Cronshaw will establish his own, parasitical fame. The polemicist can be seen sharpening his claws for the onslaughts to come in The Moon and Sixpence or, even more devastatingly, in Cakes and Ale. Yet, this settling of accounts within the Republic of Letters is not the whole story. Between the lines of the Heidelberg chapters, the mature writer derides, in retrospect, and seeks to exorcise two patent temptations of his own long years of literary apprenticeship: a (not quite extinct) partiality to fine writing and a (not fully mastered) fondness for the extremes of naturalism.

The record of Philip's unglamorous loss of innocence introduces another set of variants on literary misrepresentations of "the truth." Met after his return to Kent, his partner in love, Miss Wilkinson, a ridiculously coquettish spinster long past her prime, is also a fiction addict. She proves to be a romancer of her own humdrum life as a governess on the Continent. When, to make up to Philip, she hints at a short-lived affair with a French art student, her naïve suitor, whose image of love depends on his readings, is, of course, unable to draw the line between the probable facts and their fantastication, "to him the very soul of romance." But the irony is double-edged: "In his ingenousness be doubted her story as little as he doubted what he read in books." Fiercely debunked, on Butlerian lines, are a lyrical treatment of the tender passion and the idealized portrayal of heroines:

He had read many descriptions of love and he felt in himself none of that uprush of emotion which novelists described … (He) had often pictured to himself … the alabaster skin of some lovely girl and he had thought of himself burying his face in the rippling masses of her auburn hair … He could not imagine himself burying his face in Miss Wilkinson's hair, it always struck him as a little sticky.

Later on, Fanny Price and Mildred Rogers will flesh out this naturalistic retort. Meanwhile, broad ironies lead up to a parodic purple patch that once more enrols the compliant Hayward. In response to Philip's vaingloriously embellished account of his adventure, the latter, writing back from Italy, will rant on "that enchanted garden [in which] you wandered hand in hand like Daphnis and Chloe amid the flowers." Anxious to knock down a whole row of ninepins at one blow, Maugham then swerves from likelihood in ascribing to this dilettante the discrepant assumption that good literature will spring fully armed from the depths of the heart: "because you love, you write like a poet … your prose was musical from the sincerity of your emotion." Another literary target emerges in the delineation of the governess. Having long been employed by an upper-class family in Paris, she boasts of being acquainted with the authors of Sapho and of Bel Ami; and she ludicrously sprinkles her speeches with mispronounced phrases out of French fiction: "C'était une fatalité." This opens the way to an indiscriminate dismissal of literary imports from across the Channel—"Philip had read French novels" in their stereotyped British connotation of strong meat. Somerset Maugham, who knew better, must have been carried away by his satirical verve. In fact, his cosmopolitan culture steals across, blurring his exposure of literary romance, for the quote ascribed above to Miss Wilkinson is suspiciously close to Charles Bovary's last, bewildered comment. Besides, Philip's morning oath to himself that he will kiss the old maid at night-fall—"it would be easier in the dark"—is plainly a bathetic variation not on a cheap serial but on no less a masterpiece than Maugham's acknowledged favourite, Le Rouge et le noir.

However, the book that bears the brunt of the novelist's adverse criticism is the genuinely sentimental, then highly popular Scènes de la vie de Bohème, lent to the "enraptured" Philip by the governess. This fairy-tale account of the artistic life serves as an ironic preamble to the stark realism of the chapters in Paris. But the sternness of the main editorial comment may surprise the reader. After a tilt at the undistinguished prose and irresponsibility of "Murger's ill-written and absurd masterpiece," in accord with the bantering tone of the episode, the author bursts into a sarcastic litany on "that picture of starvation which is so good-humoured, of squalor which is so picturesque, of sordid love which is so romantic"; then he seems to ascend a Victorian pulpit: "It is only when you return to the book with a sounder judgment that you find how gross their pleasures were, how vulgar their minds; and you find the utter worthlessness, as artists and as human beings of that gay procession." Under the signature of Somerset Maugham, what considerations may have dictated such an outburst? urged this resurgence of a moralistic standard, elsewhere disowned in the literary field? The hint of an answer is found in the last clause and in its word-order: "(their) utter worthlessness, as artists and as human beings." One may well, it appears, jeer at love, explode its illusions; but art, true art, should not be trifled with.

For all his intellectual seclusion and vital sterility, Hayward had been granted a major extenuating circumstance: his possession of "one gift which was very precious. He had a real feeling for literature and he could impart his own passion …" No such indulgence is extended to the many "Philistines" in the cast.

Their thrashing begins during the scenes set in Kent, in which the life at the vicarage is given as representative of the cultural backwardness of the late Victorian province. The vicar and his wife are scoffed at for their lack of aesthetic discernment, their limited interest in, or moralistic approach to the fine arts. Those shortcomings appear with regard to no less than four of the Muses: in the scoffing account of a music-party during which "Mrs. Carey sang When the Swallows Homeward Fly or, Trot, Trot my Poney"; in the sneering remarks that the vicar himself "had long lost the habit of reading but liked to look at the illustrations" of the books that filled his library and that, "partly on account of his profession, partly because he thought it would be vulgar, [he] never went to see plays"; lastly when, with but a slight transposition of Maugham's remembered conflict with his adoptive parents, the Careys, "frankly shocked at Philip's idea of being an artist," are supposed to voice the social and moral prejudices of their Age and class: "He should not forget … that his father and mother were gentlefolk; and painting wasn't a serious profession; it was Bohemian, disreputable, immoral." King's School, conjured up in its provincial middle-class environment, proves to be another abode of Philistia, denounced as a typical late Victorian public-school. Not unnaturally, the main body of the boys there place sports far above learning. But Philip's brief alignment on this ethos is mockingly referred to his idealization of the popular-qua-commonplace Rose: "He thought him the most wonderful fellow in the world. His books now were insignificant." As for most of the masters, they had already come in for castigation as intellectual sticks-in-the-mud, exposed in their mistrust of the new Head's eccentric interests: "he talked of German philosophy and of French fiction." This broader and more modern culture thus provides the standards on which the satire rests.

On similar assumptions, Londoners are not spared. In the course of his apprenticeship at the Accountant's Office, Philip finds himself patronized by a fellow articled clerk, a Watson, whose father belongs to the "beerage," and whom he expressly, and not without grounds, "look(s) upon as a Philistine." This conceited and dandified old Oxonian is a regular reader of The Sportsman, a fan of music-hall performances and, busy as he is chasing the girls, "set(s) no store on his protégé's culture." The accountant, who bears the no less emblematic name of Carter, is clearly an upstart and an egregious snob, who shares Watson's "barbarian" ideals: his study-walls are "decorated with sporting prints" and his whole conversation bears on the pleasures of hunting and his (dubious) claims to gentlemanliness. Yet, even then, the lower classes are dragged into the dock. Brutally, with regard to Thompson, a cockneyish clerk who "sneered at Philip because he was better educated than himself"; with condescending leniency, in the character-sketch of Goodworthy, the kind but unrefined managing-clerk who, on a professional trip to Paris, introduces the young man to the Moulin Rouge and the Folies-Bergères labelled as "a vulgar Paris," in which he finds delight, though from the vantage-point of a superior English morality. France will again be used as a cultural touchstone in the scathing caricature of Albert Price, Fanny's brother, "a rubber merchant" whose grammar is shaky and French non-existent. This Victorian-businessman, conventional even in the choice of his Christian name, had, self-complacently, allowed his eccentric sister to starve, in the name of virtue and probability: "Me and Mrs. Price told her Paris was no place for a girl. And there's no money in art." Yet, having paid his way across the Channel to attend the black sheep's funeral, he would not miss an opportunity to get acquainted with "those places in Montmartre which are celebrated from Temple Bar to the Royal Exchange." These skirmishes prepare us for the full scale attack against the "populace" launched on the occasion of Philip's term of shop-assistantship and for the sarcastic treatment of the waitress Mildred.

Depending on second-hand knowledge for the episodes at Lynn and Sedley's, Maugham has been all the more careful to establish the social environment and spirit of such a place. With probable reminiscences of Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames, and Wells's Kipps, for some English specificities, he has, in his own, terser way, shown the drudgery inherent in a shop-assistant's daily duties, hinted at the meanness of the lives led by an underpaid staff, touched upon the commercial strategy of a big Department Stores in London. But his account of the hierarchies within the establishment is distinctive in its sharp focus on the lack of taste, the deficiencies in culture and the social solecisms of the whole set. The people at the top are bounders. Mr. Gibbons, the "buyer," whom Philip is humiliated to have to apply to for his job, asserts his elegance by sporting "a white geranium surrounded by leaves" in the lapel of his professional frock coat. The general manager, who speaks "with a cockney twang," indulges in "a great many words" and wears "a bunch of football medals" dangling from his watch chain, smugly assumes that his new recruit (whose stay in Paris has been mentioned to him) "found that art did not pay." Sampson, the buyer of costumes, who seeks to ape continental fashions, prides himself on his smattering of French and, probably nominal, acquaintance with Maxim's. Under his management, Parisian chic is crudely plagiarized to cater for insular vulgarians. An instance of these is ridiculed in the burly person of a Miss Antonia, a popular singstress, with "the breezy manner of a comedienne accustomed to being on friendly terms with the gallery boys of provincial music halls." Seeking a new costume to wear on stage, "something striking" she is delighted with the "combination of violent, unusual colours" that Philip, in deliberate caricature of French designs, has devised to suit her flashy plebeian tastes. To cap this emphatic demonstration, Maugham has devoted a whole chapter to describing one of the "social evenings" of the staff. The protagonist, not daring to sneak away, attends it from end to end, with a sinking heart. Much of the evening is filled by crude amateur performances given by the employees: the playing of popular pieces by a self-taught lady pianist; the singing of sentimental ditties; the recital of a facetious poem … While it recalls Dickens by its broadly comic presentation of lower-class characters and unsophisticated audiences, the scene is undickensian in its superciliousness. Among the attendants are found, for instance, a Mrs. Hodges, as rustic as her name indicates, who picks her teeth with her silver brooch, and a blatantly un-Jane-Austenish Miss Bennett, the red-faced, overdressed and underbred "belle" of the stores who, besides her capacity to drain two or three bottles of ginger beer in a single session, "liked dancing and poetry better than anything in the world." Even more than the nature of Philip's work—his dress-designing activities are perceived as a commercial parody of the pursuit of Art—it is this trial by vulgarity, this sense of a cultural exile, that brings Philip to the appalled awareness of his vital failure. Back in his dormitory, he then attempts "with all his might not to think of the life he [is] leading." And the climax of his "despair" is reached when, on meeting Lawson, a former friend of his artistic days, in a London street, he feels bound to break away from all that this painter continues to stand for.

Earlier in the book, the main, battered target of the cultural satire had been Mildred Rogers. Between the long-haired "stoodent" (as she calls him) and this aggressively low-bred and absurdly genteel, cockneyish member of the servant-class—who smoothly sinks from waiting in a cheap café into street-walking—the intellectual and aesthetic gap is shown, at every turn, to be unbridgeable. Only once does Somerset Maugham remember to distance himself, on this topic, from his fictional counterpart. This occurs on the occasion of the ill-matched couple's first visit to a music-hall: "Philip was a very cultured young man and he looked upon musical comedy with scorn. He thought the jokes vulgar and the melodies obvious … but Mildred … applauded rapturously." But, even then, the raillery is double-edged, and the young man's later summary of Mildred's character as that of "a vulgar slut" is amply substantiated. At the very height of his masochistic passion, Philip, we are told, "saw her exactly as she was … her mind was common; she had a vulgar shrewdness which revolted him…." And his tacitly endorsed remarks are scarcely more complimentary when, towards the close of their relationships, he observes that "she had not even the power of attending to what she was herself saying" or that "Her mind was of an order that could not deal for five minutes with the abstract." With Proustian irony, such deficiencies had put her intellectualistic wooer at a disadvantage in the days of his infatuation. Having "no talent for small talk." He had then, in frantic search of conversational topics, stooped to "read[ing] industriously The Sporting Times." But, on this ground, how could he vie with spontaneously lowbrowed rivals, like the "flashy and jovial young man … with the spruce look of a commercial traveller" who takes her to the Tivoli? or with Miller, the heavily moustached, German-born salesman, whose "vulgar smartness of … appearance" is a claim for the waitress's admiration? or again, with the charming but "empty headed" Griffith who "never read a book" and "had never a thought that was fine?" The fact that this student of medicine stands higher on the social scale highlights the cultural theme. As for Mildred, she is repeatedly exposed for her assumedly representative semiilliteracy. On one of his earliest visits to the teashop, Philip finds her "immersed in a novelette" belonging, the comment suggests, to the "regular supply of inexpensive fiction written to order … for the consumption of the illiterate"; and he notices that she "outline(s) the words with her lips as she read(s)." An idea of the trash thus imbibed is hinted at when it appears that the books she most admires for being "so refined" bear the signature of Courtenay Page. This happens to be the pen-name used by Norah Nesbit for the hack-writing which, on her own jocular admission, has gained her "an immense popularity among kitchen-maids. They think me so genteel." In echoing the cliché and taking for granted the "extravagances of cheap fiction," Mildred joins the ranks of the romancers, but with the special defencelessness that goes with a dull mind and a lack of critical sense.

To genuine literature and to painting, this figurehead of low-class ignorance proves at best indifferent, at worst antagonistic. Jealous of Philip's engrossment in serious books, at the time when she shares his London flat, she keeps interfering with his reading; then, in the Brighton episode, she remonstrates with him on dubious popular assumptions—"You'll addle your brain, that's what you will do"—and reproaches him for being "so unsociable." The prospect of going to Paris attracts her when she remembers that "a friend of hers had passed her honeymoon [there] and … spent all day at the Louvre," meaning, of course, not Philip's favourite Gallery but "the Magasin … where you could get the very latest things for half the price." Once settled in his Kennington flat, she (vainly) undertakes to make him take down the nudes on his walls, which she deems indecent: "Disgusting, that's what I call it to have drawings of naked people about." When, in revenge for his rejection of her sexual advances, she wrecks the place before going away, it is thus logical, as well as symbolic, that she should spare none of his works of art. The tearing of his portrait and of his own drawings may be held to be ad hominem. But she also destroys "the photographs, Manet's Olympia and the Odalisque of Ingres," reconciled under the vandal's "coalhammer," together with "the portrait of Philip IV." As for the invidious volumes, they have been left with "long gashes on the backs," like stabbed enemies, and she has taken special "trouble to tear pages out of the unbound French ones." Philip's final response is revealingly rooted in intellectual arrogance. More in disdain than in anger, "He did not think of her with wrath but with an overwhelming sense of boredom." Yet, if we trust the ending of the tale, with a pox upon the … crashing bore!

Since both Hayward the arch aesthete, and Mildred, the blatant Philistine had been living, "in fragments"—E.M. Foster's then recently coined phrase in Howards End—their early deaths (the former from enteric fever; the latter from syphilis) image an obvious revenge of the body against, in the first case, too exclusive a life of the mind; in the second, a vulgar affectation of refinement. Yet the two vital fallacies are not on a par. Hayward has only proved to be his own enemy; while Mildred is also a destroyer of others, a femme fatale. Specifically, in the case of Philip, her sensual appeal, depicted as perverse, had, as it were, sucked dry his earlier aesthetic and intellectual interests: "Love was like a parasite in his heart … it absorbed his existence so intensely that he could have pleasure in nothing else … now beauty meant nothing to him … no picture called up in him a thrill of emotion … new books were meaningless." In consequence, once he has overcome the shock of losing this ghoul to the superior attractions of Emil Muller, the student who, "for six months [has] been starved for beauty," sets to a banquet of the soul. In company with Hayward, on a timely visit to London, he rediscovers the charms of the city, the delights of the National Gallery, the joys of ardent debates on art and literature. Admittedly, the two intellectuals are chaffed: the deserted lover for his overexcitement, "in sudden reaction from the life he has been leading"; the older man, as usual, for his docile switching of cultural snobberies. Yet, all along this chapter-long hymn to beauty, Philip plainly voices his creator's beliefs, notably on the relevant and, as will be seen central issue of art's power to "liberate the soul from pain." On the Edwardian mode, but with extenuating succinctness, the author steps in, to enthuse on the landscapes of the metropolis with a wealth of artistic and literary references from both sides of the Channel. We thus foresee that, in Maugham's coming variant on the Goethian fuller life, one fragment may appear "more equal" then the other.

This sentiment, out of chapter L, must be seen in context and in the light of its fuller phrasing.

It echoes the hero's change of heart towards the end of his two years as would-be painter in Montparnasse. By crossing the Channel like a Rubicon, under the unauspicious encouragement of the romantic Miss Wilkinson and illomened applause of the dilettantish Hayward, Philip hoped to conquer genius at one stroke, in a Murger-like Bohemia. Instead, he has been a witness to the drudgery, the hardship and uncertainties that, according to Maugham, attend the artist's call. The suicide of the dedicated but destitute and ungifted Fanny Price—the first of the symbolic deaths in the novel—has illustrated the self-destructive absurdity of believing that creativeness depends on will alone. Clutton impersonates another variation on the vital sacrifices demanded by the exclusiveness of an artistic endeavour. A still young, possibly talented painter, he is shown, gradually, to cut himself from all personal relations in the fervour of his single-minded quest. But what, wonders the pragmatic hero, if he should not make his mark? "[He] saw him in twenty years, bitter, lonely, savage and unknown." This "tragedy of failure" experienced by clear-sighted second-raters, is then embodied by Cronshaw, a minor decadent poet in his fifties, still a brilliant talker, but bibulous, and living in penury with a slatternly French mistress. This deglamourized poète maudit will later die of cirrhosis, in dire poverty. It is in recoil from this gallery of human wrecks—capped by the character-sketch of Foinet, the elderly teacher at the Academy, soured by the realization of his mediocrity—that Philip reaches a diagnosis and prescribes for himself an alternative course. The diagnosis of course adumbrates the characterization of Strickland, central to the next novel: "in the true painters, writers, musicians there was a power which drove them to such complete absorption in their work as to make it inevitable for them to subordinate life to art … they were merely dupes of the instinct that possessed them." Meanwhile, it is on the rebound, that the present protagonist is made to advocate an antithetic mode of self-fulfilment: "he had a feeling that life was to be lived rather than portrayed and he wanted to search out the various experiences of it and wring from each moment the emotion that it offered."

Though Philip will be shown to outgrow this late nineteenth century emphasis on extending the boundaries of sensations—the last romantic fallacy to be disowned—, the art-versus-life issue is thus no longer faced in terms of discernment but in the prospect of a life-choice. And I submit that the inner tensions that energize the theme will deflect its treatment. Maugham, the living author behind the scenes, was wedded to his creative endeavour; a frequently acknowledge datum, deplored as a bondage or, on the contrary, seen as a privilege—"The artist is the only free man" [The Summing Up]—, according to his moods. In this view, the defiant, topically self-apologetic motif that nobody can live on love alone, even if it be the love of art, must be seen as subsidiary. It is contradicted in the scornful handling of Lawson, the comparatively gifted yet unoriginal portrait-painter who, as his name intimates, compromises with the tastes of the British Establishment, on his way to the Royal Academy. From the same exacting vantage-point, Stroeve, the moderately successful-quaconventional painter of The Moon and Sixpence, will be characterized as a figure of fun, with overtones of cathartic self-satire. The major issue of the later novel, only touched upon here, in the case of Clutton, but underlying, I submit, the progress of Philip, is that of reconciling a genuine artistic urge with an existence outside the Ivory Tower. Saddled with his creator's biographical background and contemplative bias, the protagonist is sent to explore a daydreamt counter-slope:

"It did not seem to me enough only to be a writer (Maugham was to admit on looking back). The pattern I had designed for myself insisted that I should take the utmost part I could in this fantastic affair of being a man. I desired to feel the common pains and enjoy the common pleasures that are part of the common human lot … I was determined to get whatever fulfilment I could out of social intercourse and human relations … But it was an effort and I have always returned to my books and my own company with relief. [The Summing Up]"

The words italicized offer as good as a running commentary on the wish-fulfilment vein that, to the author's own, and most critics', discomfort, prevails in the present novel's last section. The sketches of homely family happiness and a village-doctor's self-realizing life are pictures in the fire, only burning, as may sadly appear, with a paste-like glimmer.

Even at the stages at which Somerset Maugham has sought to prepare us for his protagonist's change of tack, the conflict between idea and sensibility can be discerned. Thus, a visit to the Louvre allows for a contrast between Fanny Price's exclusive absorption in the exhibits and Philip's revived interest in the coming of Spring, but the parable is unwittingly undermined. The scenery that draws the young man's eyes away from the landscapes on the walls is itself framed by "a window that looked out on the Tuileries, gay, sunny, and urbane, like a picture by Raffaëlli!" Back in London, Philip's reported thoughts on the impact of Mildred's first desertion point towards a special instrumentality: "Under the influence of passion he had felt a singular vigour, and his mind had worked with unwonted force." Is not the "Sacred Fount" motif thus stealing through? Leaving out for later comments the ambiguous scenes in the British Museum and in front of a Whistler-like sunrise on the Thames, I shall only offer one more illustration. Catching his last sight of Lawson in Piccadilly, the hero, on the verge of his second life, makes up his mind to turn "down a side street," an emblematic as well as literal turning-point. And yet, the authorial comment on his disinclination ever to talk to the painter again weakens the point: "art appeared to him unimportant. He was occupied with the forming of a pattern out of the manifold chaos of life, and the materials with which he worked seemed to make preoccupation with pigments and words very trivial. Lawson had served his turn. Philip's friendship with him had been a motive in the design he was elaborating…." In their combination, the idea of a "pattern" formed out of "chaos"; the image of "materials" to be improved (a familiar one with Maugham as self-reflexive writer); the notions of a character who had "served his turn" and of "a motive" within a "design" in process of elaboration sound metafictional with a vengeance! Thus defined, the art of living prolongs the very creed it claims to repudiate, on lines already sketched much earlier in the book: "[Philip's] conduct of his life as a whole … was his means of self-expression." Scratch the "doctor" and you'll find a writer.

In fact, the two existential alternatives embraced in turn by the protagonist, when groping towards the "simplest pattern," happen to correlate two antithetic modes of fiction-writing: life as a romance and life as a novel.

To the first mode could be referred Philip's hankering after exotic experiences in Spain and the East. Like Maugham himself, who was yet to visit Asia and the South Seas, his counterpart must have been an eager reader of Loti and of Stevenson. His idealizing vision of those distant lands draws on both, in turn, with some authorial self-irony: "his fancy was rich with pictures of Bangkok and Shangaï, and the ports of Japan: he pictured to himself palm-trees and skies blue hot … the scents of the Orient intoxicated his nostrils…." And Philip's approved change of mind will thus be described on the novel's penultimate page: "… what to him were the pagodas … and the lagoons …? America was here and now. It seemed to him that all his life he had followed the ideals that other people, by their words or their writings, had instilled into him, and never the desires of his own heart." The very "words" used are, of course, those of Goethe, and the last "instilled ideal" comes straight from his "writings," to complete the apprenticeship of an English Wilhelm Meister. One literary theme supersedes another.

The treatment of Spain and its glamour is complicated by Maugham's close acquaintance with the actual range of this land's artistic production and the diversity of its provinces. Within Philip's all-sweeping repudiation of his dreams of travel, given as escapist, a mythicized Iberia is cast off in the lump: "What did he care for Spain and its cities, Cordova, Toledo, León." But this jars with the earlier, better informed disquisitions ascribed, somewhat improbably, to the hero's second-hand knowledge. El Greco—the only unchallenged artist-hero in the whole novel—had been extolled for his profound insights, by which the young man had planned to profit on a cultural journey to Toledo. An equally authorized commentary, only a few pages before the hero's volte-face, had drawn a pondered contrast between, on the one hand, "Andalusia … too soft and sensuous and a little vulgar" and, on the other, the sterner, more bracing appeal of "the windswept distances of Castille and the rugged magnificence of Aragon and León." This eulogy of the robust ideal in a sober environment distinctively merges with aesthetic considerations. According to Athelny, whose views on things Spanish foreshadow some essays in Maugham's Don Fernando, little is to be learnt in Seville, discredited by its associations with the too sentimental Murillo and the too romantic Théophile Gauthier. Whereas the value of the message of Toledo can be measured by the greatness of its famous painter. There follows a four-page record of Philip's train of thought, on scrutinizing a photographed landscape by the said El Greco. And again, the stated existential issue—"He felt … he was on the threshold of a new discovery in life"—mingles with, and becomes subordinate to an enquiry on the goals of true art: the admired picture is claimed to transcend crude mimesis, so as to encompass "a reality greater than any achieved by the masters in whose steps humbly he had sought to walk." And the offered synthesis of the two concerns—the vital and the artistic—revealingly reverts to the contemplative: "here was something better than the realism he had adored; but certainly it was not the bloodless idealism which stepped aside from life in its weakness; it was too strong; it was virile; it accepted life in all its vivacity, ugliness and beauty, squalor and heroism … it was realism carried to some higher pitch." For better or for worse, the Georgian novelist is about to explore a reality beyond naturalism.

The correlation between life-styles and styles of writing has a private reference. To Andalusia, now mocked as a too romantic, effeminately voluptuous locale, Maugham had devoted his first, imitative, over-written, travel-book, The Land of the Blessed Virgin, which he was sternly to describe in retrospect as "an exercice in style … wistful, allusive and elaborate … [with] neither ease nor spontaneity" [The Summing Up]. Similarly, Philip's reveries of travel sound like deliberate parodies of the decadent manner, in the sonorous vagueness of their rhapsodies: "visions of tropical sunshine and magic colour, and of a teeming, mysterious, intense life. Life! That was what he wanted … what rich jungles … might he not visit?… he could go up and down the world … learning the beauty, and the wonder and the variedness of life." As against this representation of life as a purple patch—with the decadent emphases on the out-of-the-way, the luxuriant, the picturesque, the fervid—a counter-model had been offered to the still immature hero in the pivotal scene at the British Museum. On entering the place, Philip was still blinkered by the extreme naturalistic preconceptions acquired in Heidelberg under the impact of the New Drama, and reinforced in Paris, with tacit reference to the school of Zola, on the occasion of his horrified visit to the Bal Bullier. What he could only see in the visitors about him was a physical and moral ugliness as well as a meanness, at variance with the search for beauty:

Their hideousness besmirched the everlasting masterpieces … their features were distorted with paltry desires … There was no wickedness in them but only pettiness and vulgarity … he saw in them all the sheep or the horse or the fox or the goat.

Indeed, the very author of Of Human Bondage had led us round such a menagerie just before, in his handling of the employees at the Department Stores. But a more balanced vision is now suggested by "the groups from the Parthenon" whose

Simplicity was infinitely touching … [their] restraint made the survivor's grief more poignant … There was one stone which was very beautiful, a bas-relief of two young men holding each other's hand; and the reticence of line, the simplicity made one like to think that the sculptor here had been touched with a genuine emotion.

Then Maugham, inconsistently, resorts to a periphrasic style as if to play down the hellenistic specificity of the subject that has stirred his hero: "an exquisite memorial to that than which the world offers but one thing more precious, to a friendship." But, though easier to preach than always to practise, the illustrated creed seems to advocate a classical mode of artistic expression; a clear, stripped, yet harmonious rendering of universal themes (death or love), whose effects are achieved through calm understatement. The author's own mature ideal of prose—to be described in The Summing Up as a combination of "lucidity", "simplicity" and "euphony"—seems thus heralded. As for the main temptation to be exorcised, it had been embodied again by Hayward, whose obliging death had brought about his former disciple's illumination. Over and above the fallacies of a darkly romantic pessimism—with which the deceased had only been marginally associated—it is what he centrally stood for, aestheticism in art as well as life, that is being disowned.

Within this scheme, Athelny, a more reliable mentor, since he rejects the enervating, Hayward-like "spirit of Andalusia", plays an important role. He is made to urge a reconciliation between, on the one hand, an indispensable interest in artistic and literary beauties and, on the other, a coming to terms with ordinary, practical aims, the needs of the body and the claims of a natural morality. But the second arch of the bridge will mainly be imaged by the rest of his family group to which he parabolically introduces Philip.

It is as an in-patients' clerk at St Luke's Hospital that the hero gets acquainted with this eccentric man in his late forties, one of the lighter "cases" entrusted to his medical observation. Thorpe Athelny, whose Saxon forename and surname both smack of allegory, makes a living as a commercial advertiser but is a cultured man, a reader of unusual books, a translator of Spanish poetry who, on the strength of a long stay in Spain, expertly descants on the painters and writers of the Golden Age. The friendship that springs up between the two men is rooted in their common intellectual and aesthetic fervour, among the Philistines in the ward. The home of the Athelnys, into which Philip will then find his way, helps to characterize its main tenant. Built by Inigo Jones, it has become "shabby" and "insanitory" and must soon be pulled down, but it possesses a magnificent balustrade and admirable ceilings, highly valued by Athelny: "Sanitation be damned, give me art … I have got nine children and they thrive on bad drains." Such data and the Skimpolish remark just quoted might have led to the denunciation of another dilettante, sacrificing the comfort of his family to a grasshopper philosophy. The more so, as this artistic type, even to the tips of the tapering, ivory-white fingers of which he is so proud, shows several features satirized in others, earlier in the novel. Like Hayward, he favours Roman Catholicism on purely aesthetic grounds, can "never say anything without an oratorical flourish," writes "in (a) formal manner … studded with pompous epithets," likes to adorn the truth, as when he boasts of his aristocratic origins "from a wish to impress…." Like the American tourists in Paris, ridiculed earlier for their romantic conventionality, he is apt to dress like a character by Murger, reminding Philip of "the comic Frenchman in the pages of Punch," and, again, "his bombast … his emphasis … the same bohemianism" expressly establish his kinship with Cronshaw. Even his professional record of false starts, his instability, his drone-like behaviour during the hop-picking, the too effeminate care he takes of his "graceful hands" are only made light fun of. The focus is on the qualities that ensure his vital success: a (reciprocated) fondness for his common law wife and flourishing children, on whose behalf he sticks to a thankless job; the "independence of thought" that he shares with the late Cronshaw, while adding to it "an infinitely more vivacious temperament"; the generosity he extends to the poverty-stricken protagonist and which excludes the possibility of "any mean motive" for his boastings; his unassuming sociability in dealing with the hop-pickers in Kent. Maugham seems to have played down his spontaneously censorious response in order to sustain his argument that the worship of art need not be incompatible with love, morality of a kind, good fellowship, and the enjoyment of simple pleasures … Yet, all along, and even in the family-scene that, literally, brings the point home, the aesthetic standard prevails: "The life of [Philip's] new friend … seemed now to have the beauty of perfect naturalness"; and, by implicit contrast to the evil aura of Mildred, sitting next to Philip, "it was evidently the beauty of their goodness which attracted him." By itself the adverb may stand as a comment. Unchallenged in the text, this oblique justification of virtue might well have come under the pen of the older Walter Pater.

Exit Thorpe Athelny. Enter the rest of his household: the kind, homely mother; with, for good measure, her nine offspring. While the eight younger ones, remembered "in a bunch," are indeed treated as a chorus, the eldest, a bonny lass, will soon step forth into the lights, to join Philip in a love-duet.

The happy home discovered by the orphaned student in its tantalizing sanctities is by no means conventional. It represents the superior success of a left-handed ménage, breaking down the barriers of class in a Butlerian note of defiance, yet with special emphases. Athelny's legitimate wife, an irreproachable and well-to-do bourgeoise, had bored him so much that he had fled their elegant villa in Kensington to set up house with their own maidservant. The portrayal of the, now matronly "Betty" bears out the rightness of his second choice. A distinctly mellowed version of Butler's Ellen, she has proved an accomplished housewife; a good cook of country dishes; a cheerfully efficient mother for their nine surviving children, brought up on sound lower-class lines of obedience and service; a motherly concubine, ministering to the comforts of the breadwinner. The lucky man still admires the handsomeness of her figure which—for a plain reason?—reminds him of "Rubens' second wife." However, this mythically robust Flemish-English wench, who expressly fleshes out the perfect helpmate—"That is what a man wants in a wife, the halcyon"—also serves the aesthetic theme. The lady, whom she had advantageously superseded in Athelny's bed and kitchen was a blue-stocking. She used to give literary parties, "was very fond of lectures on Sunday afternoons … read the right books, admired the right pictures and adored the right music…." By contrast, her unintellectual successor speaks for good sense and the wisdom of a generous heart, both bequeathed, with the rest of her gifts, to her eldest daughter. A thematic shift has taken place. Cronshaw's low-born mistress, admittedly French, had been outlined as a slovenly slut, a living testimonial to the artist's decline, almost on a par with the absinthe of which he proved overfond. As for Mildred, like Betty a member of the English servant-class, we have seen with what contumely her commonness and demeaning companionship had been scourged. Whereas the no less ungrammatical plain speech of Betty, to be echoed in that of her daughter, and even their common shrugging off of intellectual and aesthetic concerns, are now referred to the counter-claims of unsophisticated "nature," in challenge of what Lawrence was to call "the mental life."

On the typically Edwardian return-to-the-earth motif that develops within the parable, we need not dwell. A Kentish farmer's daughter, the second Mrs Athelny is a country-lass transplanted to London and yet unspoilt. She has kept a connection with her native county. Every late Summer, with her husband's blessing and cheerfully ineffective participation, she takes her family to do the hop-picking on the Isle of Thanet. This, we are asked to believe, "renewed their contact with mother earth … gave them a new strength," ensuring that the children, still characterized in a body, remained "merry, boisterous, healthy and handsome." It is in this pastoral setting, "scented [in September] with the goodly perfume of hops," and "amid conditions which needed only a blue sky to be as idyllic as the olive-grove of Arcady," that Sally Athelny, adding the bloom of her innocent youth to the congenial traits she shares with her mother, acts out her scène-à-faire as Philip's responsive love-partner.

The two avatars of the girl's forename prefigure her emblematic role. This Maria del Sol—her Micawberish genitor's pompous, yet apt label—has been duly anglicized into "Sally" by her no-nonsense mother. Though she serves her apprenticeship with a sempstress in Regent Street, a useful training for a housewife, this paragon in the making looks out of place in the metropolis, "like a cornflower in a shop among orchids and azaleas." In context, we gather that she stands above the artificial beauties of the decadent environment par excellence; that she puts to shame the fleurs du mal of the modern city, including the chlorotic Mildred. This "Sally" belongs to a gardenalley. So much so that, when Philip, among the Kentish fields, impulsively folds her in his arms, he seems to embrace a full-fledged local Persephone: her voice's "low richness was the voice of the country night itself"; "She seemed to carry with her scents of the new-mown hay, and the savour of ripe hops, and the freshness of young grass." Even more comprehensively, her "exquisite homely naturalness" conjures up the thought of "a cottage garden with the dear flowers which bloom in all men's hearts." Their ensuing enumeration includes, with special, though unmeant relevance, "London Pride" and "love-in-a-mist!"

At every turn of this eulogy of artless nature, literature and art claim their own. The notion of the stimulating earth comes, of course, from Wordsworth, Maugham's favourite English poet, though, for him, an uninspiring model. The memory of Hardy's Wessex may have contributed to his hero's conviction that this farmer's grand-daughter "would blossom under the softer skies of Dorset to a rarer beauty." Express reminiscences of Shakespeare's Jessica and Lorenzo mingle with the scents of the fields to kindle the man's desire. The "quiet smile" of the enigmatic Sally seems Gioconda-like. Her arm, though stroked in the dark, has "the skin that Rubens painted…." Thus, there is a more then intended appropriateness in the fact that the climactic meeting occurs in the National Gallery. As he then sits waiting for his girl-friend, the hero, about to propose, "looked at [no picture] in particular but allowed … the beauty of their lines to work upon his soul. His imagination was busy with Sally." Such verbal contiguities extend the relevance of the later statement that the engaged couple "walked out of the gallery."

Nor is this the only respect in which the hero's wedding with "a perfect picture" proves to be a marriage of convenience. The very hymn to a wholesomely innocent sexuality on the part of Sally, obeying, we are told, "the healthy instincts of the natural woman," exalts "an affection that had in it something maternal and something sisterly," an archetypal yet formidable compendium of charms. For—or because of?—all that, the male partner cannot feel love for her and, after the first embraces, seems even to have lost his sexual desire: "She was a splendid animal … and physical perfection filled him always with awe." The author's homosexual bias may well have reasserted itself in this lamely rationalized recoil. At any rate, we are asked to believe that the young lovers' intimacy once established in the flesh happily develops not so much beyond as outside sex, on rather improbable terms of comradeship: "They met with a handshake and parted as formally … Never a word of love passed between them." This "picture of the marriage I should have liked to make," Maugham's retrospective account of the present dénouement in The Summing Up, does not only connote a marriage of true minds. The praise of Sally's habitual silence, in clear contrast to Mildred's garrulity, is more than a cliché of male chauvinism. Earlier in the plot, this anti-Mildred had once come to sit next to Philip, and urged him to go on with his reading, while she plied the needle in a respectful hush. Accordingly, his prospect of a happy connubial life will bring to his mind the thought of "long evenings … in the cosy sitting room … he with his books while she bent over her work." In this further respect, the National Gallery offers a fitting frame for their betrothal. In the same way as "It always comforted him to get among pictures," the company of this beau ideal had appeared "curiously soothing," holding for the orphan the expectation of "a fair haven" against "the loneliness and the tempest." On such distinctive lines, this "odd girl" represents the artistic doctor's—as, covertly, the clinical author's—daydreamt "rest."

This cutting of the losses has brought us round to the initial title of the book, whose ultimate relevance is sustained in the two pathetic fallacies that frame the tale. The first had established a gloom matching the (autobiographical) report of a mother's death: "The day broke gray and dull" The second, in capping the fiction of the good, restoring marriage, marks a rebirth of hope in the acceptance of the ways of ordinary men: "crowds passed hastening in every direction and the sun was shining." Yet the imagined retort is idiosyncratic. The brighter landscape, internal, we assume, as well as external, is "looked at" from "the balustrade" of the gallery from which the unlikely couple have just emerged. The very motif of a coming to terms with the prose of life thus ends in a scene of calm contemplation, whose purpose and spirit may now be summed up.

Half-way through the book, in authorized challenge of Hayward's barren formalism, Philip had referred the value of literature—standing for all the arts—to its effects upon its frequenters, in so far as it may foster a blossoming of the minds and souls: "the petals open one by one" But, beyond this educational theme, the more recurrent, and original emphases bear on the acquirement of an inner "strength," or the conquest of a saving "comfort" against the blows of fate. Both notions belong to a defensive panoply, though by no means in a dodging spirit. The appreciation of beauty in all its forms—"there was art in the manner in which he looked upon nature"—offers the best of shields against confronted pain. Even against the most poignant of all. For the lack of such a support, the Philistines in the British Museum are sadly disarmed: "all those mean, common people … must part from those they loved, the son from the mother, the wife from the husband; and perhaps it was more tragic because … they knew nothing that gave beauty to the world." Whereas, the authors' counterpart at long last finds solace in his ability "to stand above the accidents of his existence." This will be ultimately tested within a repetition-cum-variation of the most crucial of his (inherited) "accidents." The ordeal that reopens the wound, is a succinct yet pathetic version of the real-life episode which had moved Somerset Maugham to write his first novel, Liza of Lambeth. At the close of his probation as an obstetric clerk in the slums, Philip is unable to save a young mother from death in childbirth, while "the boy who was her husband" watches the tragic scene in dumb "bewilderment." This modified repeat of his boy hood trauma now shows the hero standing at a remove, in sympathetic but self-possessed observation. And what follows seems to encapsulate the whole process of Philip's release from his mourning. As he walks home, the cathected images haunt him—"[He] could not get out of his eyes the dead girl lying on the bed, wan and white, and the boy who stood at the end of it like a stricken beast." But the spectacle of a sunrise over the Thames soothes his soul: "He was overwhelmed by the beauty of the world. Beside that nothing seemed to matter." This aesthetic vision proves therapeutic on Schopenhauerian lines. And the preceding rejection of social pity—"pity was inane … They did not pity themselves. They accepted their fates"—would sound callous indeed, if it did not echo a deep private issue: the need to overcome a gnawing self-pity.

The theme of the artistic vocation, overtly dropped on Philip's renunciation of painting, remains in the background. In Bohemia, he had felt less conscious of his estranging infirmity, like an ugly duckling raised, for a while, to cygnet status among the swans. But the chosen pattern of the "novel of apprenticeship" called for a volte-face. Back in London, and on his way to a more ordinary life, the protagonist has his club foot operated upon. Yet, the incompleteness of the dramatized cure—"he would always limp"—cannot be fully accounted for by Maugham's realistic adherence to his clinical knowledge. It looks as though the notion of social adjustment went against the grain with the novelist in the prompter's box. Hence his perfunctory report of the operation. And the conflicting pride in exile which, under the guise of a welcome acceptance, finds its way back even into the penultimate chapter: "He accepted the deformity which had made life so hard for him … by reason of it he has acquired [his] power of introspection … Without it he would never have had his keen appreciation of beauty, his passion for art and literature and his interest in the varied spectacle of life." And …? Imperfectly buried under the Bildungs, an aborted Kunstler-roman lies in the missing clause.

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