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E) Pick out the theatrical terms you came across while reading the passage. Translate them into Ukrainian. Do it in writing.


3. a) Read the biography of W. S. Maugham and focus on the four main points:

1) what facts or events of Maugham’s life were you impressed with;

2) how much did his parents’ and his uncle’s family influence his career;

3) what inspired Maugham to write his famous works;

4) what are his best novels about.



William Somerset Maugham, (January 25, 1874 – December 16, 1965) was an English playwright, novelist, and short story writer. He was one of the most popular authors of his era, and reputedly the highest paid of his profession during the 1930s.

Maugham's father was an English lawyer handling the legal affairs of the British embassy in Paris. His grandfather, another Robert, had also been a prominent lawyer and cofounder of the English Law Society, and it was taken for granted that William would follow in their footsteps. Events were to ensure this was not to be, but his older brother Viscount Maugham did enjoy a distinguished legal career, and served as Lord Chancellor between 1938–39. Maugham's mother Edith Mary was consumptive, a condition for which the doctors of the time prescribed childbirth. As a result Maugham had three older brothers, already enrolled in boarding school by the time he was three and Maugham was effectively raised as an only child. When both Maugham’s parents died William was sent back to England to be cared for by his uncle, Henry MacDonald Maugham, the Vicar of Whitstable, in Kent. The move was catastrophic. Henry Maugham proved cold and emotionally cruel.

Maugham was miserable both at the vicarage and at school. As a result, he developed a talent for applying a wounding remark to those who displeased him. This ability is sometimes reflected in the characters that populate his writings. At sixteen, Maugham refused to continue at The King's School and his uncle allowed him to travel to Germany, where he studied literature, philosophy and German at Heidelberg University.

A career in the church was rejected because a stammering minister might make the family seem ridiculous. Likewise, the civil service was rejected – not out of consideration for Maugham’s own feelings or interests, but because the recent law requiring civil servants to qualify by passing an examination made Maugham’s uncle conclude that the civil service was no longer a career for gentlemen. The local doctor suggested the profession of medicine and Maugham's uncle reluctantly approved this. Maugham had been writing steadily since the age of 20 and fervently intended to become an author, but because Maugham was not of age, he could not confess to this. So he spent the next five years as a medical student at St Thomas' Hospital, London.

Many readers and some critics have assumed that the years Maugham spent studying medicine were a creative dead end, but Maugham himself felt quite the contrary. He was able to live in the lively city of London, to meet people of a "low" sort that he would never have met in one of the other professions, and to see them in time of heightened anxiety and meaning in their lives. In maturity, he recalled the literary value of what he saw as a medical student: "I saw how men died. I saw how they bore pain. I saw what hope looked like, fear and relief..." Maugham saw how corrosive to human values suffering was, how bitter and hostile sickness made people, and never forgot it. Here, finally, was "life in the raw" and the chance to observe a range of human emotions.

Maugham kept his own lodgings, took pleasure in furnishing them, filled many notebooks with literary ideas, and continued writing nightly while at the same time studying for his degree in medicine. In 1897, he presented his second book for consideration. The first was a biography of Giacomo Meyerbeer written by the 16-year-old Maugham in Heidelberg. Liza of Lambeth, a tale of working-class adultery and its consequences, drew its details from Maugham's experiences as a medical student doing midwifery work in the London slum of Lambeth.

By 1914 Maugham was famous, with 10 plays produced and 10 novels published. From 1914 onwards, Maugham spent a great deal of his time traveling with his close companion Gerald Haxton from the South Seas to China and South America. On these travels Maugham picked up innumerable stories which fuelled his writing. For instance his most famous story, Rain (in The Trembling of a Leaf (1921) was inspired by a missionary and a prostitute travelling with him to Pago Pago. His best novels are written about artists: in Of Human Bondage the writer writes about his own life, in The Moon and Sixpence (1919) he tells readers the story of the French Painter Paul Gaugin. Cakes and Ale (1930) is based on some facts from Th. Hardy's life, the main character of Theatre (1938) is a Lon­don actress.

Maugham's position as a successful playwright was being consolidated at the same time. Plays of note by the writer include Our Betters (1917), The Circle (1921), and For Services Rendered (1932) which was vehemently anti­war and looked with disaster at the aftermath of World War I. He wrote about 29 plays, most of them were comedies.

Maugham's plays, though successful at the time have not lasted terribly well, whereas his novels, particularly The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes and Ale, Theatre, The Razor's Edge (1944) still hold their appeal. Maugham bought a house on the French Riviera in 1926 that was at­tended by numerous writers and politicians such as Winston Churchill. He lived into his nineties and wrote much. His notebooks are of interest too and were published in selected extracts in A Writer's Notebook (1949). The Summing Up (1938) shows that Maugh­am felt that he was never treated quite as seriously as he deserved. This seems a little steep coming from a writer who wittily admitted that, "There are three basic rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are".

Date: 2015-12-17; view: 608

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