the circular runner

Somerset Maugham and middling art…

In Uncategorized, writers & books on May 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm
Sketch of W. Somerset Maugham.

Image via Wikipedia

Just finished reading an article in the New Yorker about Somerset Maugham.  (LINK to be found below courtesy of d_Taoist)  The piece was ostensibly about a new biography, but at the heart of the article was a question about Maugham’s reputation as a writer.  Put simply, Maugham’s is not great according to the author.  I tend to wonder who establishes reputations for artists.  Obviously, we are still reading Maugham. ( Steinbeck is another writer who comes to mind who I know from grad school is considered middle brow and yet stays with us.)  I imagine scholars are responsible for reputations.  Maybe this is why I didn’t love grad school, but I seem to have a fondness for writers who are not considered masters.  (Though I can see it with Steinbeck, I love Maugham.)  I also love Graham Green, who I know is also sometimes considered good but not great.

Full disclosure: the only reason I probably even care about this questions is rooted in insecurity.  I want to know why I can’t see what the supposed experts see.  Is this a failing on my part?  Could I fix my own fiction and be better as a writer if I could see the problems?  I guess there’s not much point to this kind of thinking.  The best thing I can do is to just keep working, so I’ll get back to the story I’m putting off writing.  I promise.
Here’s the link:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/05/31/100531crbo_books_franklin

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