Este site usa cookies para fornecer nossos serviços, melhorar o desempenho, para análises e (se não estiver conectado) para publicidade. Ao usar o LibraryThing, você reconhece que leu e entendeu nossos Termos de Serviço e Política de Privacidade . Seu uso do site e dos serviços está sujeito a essas políticas e termos.
WSMaugham (1): It would be difficult in any case, and impossible in the space allowed to me, to say exactly what I mean by the American tang: it is in literature that characteristic which differentiates a work from any that could possibly have been written in another country and so marks it as the unmistakable product of its environment; but I can point to a very good instance of it. You have it conspicuously in Mark Twain, and he gives it you in all its richness and savour in Huckleberry Finn. This book stands head and shoulders above the rest of his work. It is an authentic masterpiece. [...] Huckleberry Finn, with its amazing variety and invention, its gusto and life, is in the tradition of that great and celebrated variety of fiction, the picaresque novel; and it holds its place bravely with the two greatest examples of the genre, Gil Blas and Tom Jones; in fact, if Mark Twain had not had the unfortunate notion of bringing in that boring little muttonhead Tom Sawyer to ruin the last few chapters, it would have been faultless.… (mais)
WSMaugham (5): It is not then for its story that I would have you read The Scarlet Letter and if you have done so already to read it again, but for the impressive quality of its language. Hawthorne formed his style on the great writers of the eighteenth century. Such a phrase as: “there was never in his heart so much cruelty as would have brushed the down off a butterfly’s wing” might well have been written by Sterne, and he would have been pleased with it. Hawthorne had a delicate ear and great skill in the construction of an elaborate phrase. He could write a sentence half a page long, rich with subsidiary clauses, that was resonant, balanced and crystal-clear. He could be splendid and various. His prose had the sober opulence of a Gothic tapestry, but under restraint of his taste it never became turgid or monotonous. His metaphors were significant, his similes apt, and his vocabulary fitting to his matter.… (mais)
Waldstein (1): As a novel, it's a failure. As a work of art, it's a masterpiece. Magnificently written, with grand rhetorical sweep and compelling authorial voice.
WSMaugham (2): Grandiloquence is an affair of hit or miss; when it comes off you may reach the sublime, when it doesn’t you descend to the ridiculous. I will admit that sometimes Melville does so descend; but it is beyond human powers to walk always on the topmost heights, and his tumbles may be condoned when you consider how splendidly, with what a noble force, with what a sustained splendour of phrase, he writes his best passages. [...] But in the scenes at New Bedford, and when he describes events, when he deals with men, above all of course with the tremendous Ahab, then he is magnificent. There is a throb, a mystery, a foreboding, a passion, a sense of the horror and terror of life, of the inevitableness of destiny and of the power of evil, which take you by the throat. You are left shattered, but strangely uplifted. And if you are a writer you are proud to think that you cultivate an art which is capable of such altitudes and which can work such wonderful effects on the hearts and senses and minds of men.… (mais)
WSMaugham (6): The histories of literature contain few autobiographies; they contain none more consistently entertaining than Benjamin Franklin's. It is written plainly, as befitted its author, but in pleasant easy English, for Franklin, as we know, had studied under good masters; and it is interesting not only for its narrative but for the vivid and credible portrait the author has succeeded in painting of himself. I cannot understand why in America Franklin is often spoken of with depreciation. Fault is found with his character; his precepts are condemned as mean and his ideals as ignoble. It is obvious that he was not a romanticist. He was shrewd and industrious. He was a good business man. He wished the good of his fellow-men, but was too clear-sighted to be deceived by them, and he used their failings with pawky humour to achieve the ends, sometimes selfish, it is true, but as often altruistic, that he had in view. He liked the good things in life, but accepted hardship with serenity. He had courage and generosity. He was a good companion, a man of witty and caustic conversation, and he liked his liquor; he was fond of women, and being no prude, took his pleasure of them. He was a man of prodigious versatility. He led a happy and a useful life. He achieved great things for his country, his state and the city in which he dwelt. To my thinking he is as truly the typical American as Dr Johnson is the typical Englishman, and when I ask myself why it is that his countrymen are apt to grudge him their sympathy, I can only think of one explanation. He was entirely devoid of hokum.… (mais)
WSMaugham (3): But since in the case of so famous an author one’s natural curiosity impels one to ask what it is that has given him such a position in the world of letters, I should recommend you to read his English Traits. In this book he was bound down to the concrete and so there is less in it of the vague, loose and superficial thinking which in his Essays he was apt to indulge in; he thus managed to be more vivid, more actual and more entertaining than in any of his other works. I certainly read it with pleasure.… (mais)
WSMaugham (4): Whitman was a writer of splendid beginnings, but either because he found his way of writing too easy or because he was intoxicated with his own verbosity, often enough he went on and on when he had nothing of significance to add to what he had already said. That you must put up with. He wrote his poems partly in the rhythmic language of the Bible, partly in the sort of blank verse that was written in the seventeenth century, and partly in an uncouth pedestrian prose which offends the ear. Well, that you must put up with too. [...] He had a vigour and a sense of life, in its manifold variety, in its passion, beauty and exhilaration, which an American may justly and with pride think truly American. He brought poetry home to the common man. He showed that it was not only to be found in moonlight, ruined castles and the pathos of lovesick maidens; but in streets and trains and steamboats, in the labour of the artisan and the humdrum toil of the farmer’s wife, in work and ease; in all life, in short, and the ways it is lived.… (mais)
WSMaugham (7): Poe wrote the most beautiful poetry that has ever been written in America. It is like some of those great pictures of the Venetians whose sudden loveliness takes your breath away so that, for the moment satisfied by the appeal to your senses, you do not care that they can give you no matter for your fancy to work upon. They have nothing but their beauty to offer, but their beauty is matchless. [...] It may be that his stories of horror and mystery owe something to Hoffmann and Balzac, but they wonderfully achieve the end he set himself, for he was the most self-conscious of artists, and they deserve their renown. He wrote in a turgid style, and he was lavish of romantic accessories; his dialogue was as bombastic as his people were unreal; his range was narrow; but that you have to put up with: what he has to give us is unique. He wrote very little and almost all he wrote can be read with enjoyment.… (mais)
WSMaugham (8): Newman, the American, is the Western pioneer, and indeed, judging from the period at which the story is set, he may well have taken part in the gold rush to California; but Henry James seems to have know the sort of man he was trying to portray too little to give his hero even a superficial plausibility. Newman could scarcely have learned his epistolary style in a pool-room at St Louis or on the water front in St Francisco. My own belief is that he fooled Henry James, and the real reason why the aristocratic Bellegardes refused the projected alliance was not that Newman had made his fortune in business, but that, as they fortunately discovered in time, he was really an assistant instructor in English at the University of Harvard. But for all that The American is well worth reading. So great is Henry James’s skill in telling a story, so rare his sense of suspense and so sure his touch in working up to a dramatic situation, that you are held from beginning to end. It is as exciting as a detective story and, after all, no more incredible; and you cannot remain unconscious of the charm of contact with the author’s amiable, urbane and cultivated mind. The American is not a great book, but it is a very readable one: there are not many novels of which you can say that sixty years after their appearance.… (mais)
WSMaugham (9): My space is growing so short that I can do no more than mention The Oregon Trail. Parkman made his journey less than a hundred years ago, and at that time buffaloes ranged the prairie in hundreds of thousands and danger from hostile Indians was still something to be reckoned with. He was a man of courage, resolution and dry humour; with these qualities and a grand subject he wrote a book which is entertaining from cover to cover. It is so good that one cannot but regret that it is written without grace.… (mais)
WSMaugham (0): The interest of Walden must depend on the taste of the reader. For my part I read it without boredom, but without exhilaration. It is very pleasantly written, in a style without formality, with ease and grace; but if I were snowbound on a Western prairie, with a deaf mute as my only companion, I must admit that I should be dismayed to find that Thoreau’s Walden was the only book in the log cabin. It is the kind of book that needs an author of vigorous personality, with a background of singular experience and a store of out-of-the-way learning; but Thoreau was a man of supine character, his knowledge of the world was small and his reading, though respectable, followed a well-trodden path. I do not think he had the emotional force to make the experiment which is the theme of his book very important. He discovered that if you limit your wants you can satisfy them at small expense. We knew that.… (mais)
WSMaugham (0): Emily Dickinson is best read in anthologies. There her wit, her poignancy, her simplicity make their utmost effect, and it may be that most anthologies would be the richer if they were less niggardly in their selections; but when you read the whole body of her work you are likely to be disappointed. [...] There is a great deal of monotony in her constant use of the common or ballad metre in a stanza of four lines; it is in itself a limiting form, and she narrows it still more because her ear was not subtle and her language was seldom simple enough for the measure. She had a strain of sophistication which induced her too often to sacrifice lyric beauty to a desire to make a clever point. In the short epigrammatic poems she wrote it is a matter of hitting the nail accurately on the head; she was very apt to give it a little tap slightly on one side. She had a gift, but a small one, and it is only confusing when claims are made on her behalf which there is little in her work to justify. Poetry is the crown of literature, but we have the right to demand that its pearls should not be cultured nor its rubies reconstructed.… (mais)
WSMaugham (0): He looked upon The Ambassadors as his best novel; I read it again the other day and I was appalled by its emptiness. It is tedious to read on account of its convoluted style; no attempt is made to render character by manner of speech, and everyone speaks like everyone else, in pure Henry James; the only living person in the book is Mrs Newsome who never appears in the flesh; and Strether is a silly, meanly inquisitive old woman. It would be intolerable but for Henry James’s great gift (the novelist’s essential gift) of carrying the reader on from page to page by the desire to know what is going to happen next, and by the wonderful atmosphere of Paris in spring and summer which no one, to the best of my knowledge, has so exquisitely conveyed.… (mais)
WSMaugham (0): I do not wish to speak disrespectfully of a writer in whom his country-men take pride; I recognize the charm and benignity of his character; when you read his journals you cannot but be impressed by the thoughtfulness which possessed him even when he was no more than a young boy, and by the fluency with which he expressed himself; and since he was a lecturer, with the platform in view when he wrote, it may be that his voice and presence added a significance to his discourse which is lost in the printed page; but I can only confess that I cannot find much profit or entertainment in his celebrated Essays. Often he hardly escapes the commonplace by a hair’s breadth. He had a gift of the picturesque phrase, but too often it is empty of meaning. He is a nimble skater who cuts elegant and complicated figures on a surface of frozen platitudes. Perhaps he would have been a better writer if he had not been quite so good a man.… (mais)