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On the Book Shelf- Somerset Maugham

alec vanderboom

This passage cuts a little too close for comfort:

“Your new friend looks like a poet,” said Weeks, with a thin smile on his careworn, bitter mouth.

“He is a poet.”

“Did he tell you so? In America we should call him a pretty fair specimen of a waster.’

“Well, we’re not in America,” said Philip frigidly.

“How old is he? Twenty-five? And he does nothing but stay in pensions and write poetry.

“You don’t know him” said Philip hotly.

“Oh yes I do: I’ve met a hundred and forty-seven of him.” . . .

“How can you have known a hundred and forty-seven of him? Asked Philip seriously.

“I’ve met him the in Latin Quarter in Paris, and I’ve met him in pensions in Berlin and Munich. He lives in small hotels in Perugia and Assisi. He stands by the dozen before the Botticellis in Florence, and he sits on all the benches of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. In Italy he drinks a little too much wine, and in Germany he drinks great deal too much beer. He always admires the right things, whatever the right thing is, and one of these days he’s going to write a great work. Think of it, there are a hundred and forty-seven great works reposing in the bosoms of a hundred and forty-seven great men, and the tragic thing is that not one of those hundred and forty-seven great works will ever be written. And yet the world goes on.”

Weeks spoke seriously, but his grey eyes twinkled a little at the end of his long speech, and Philip flushed when he saw that the American was making fun of him.

“You do talk rot,” he said crossly.

From Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage,” pg 120-121