[ilds] who am I to argue with a knight?

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Tue May 12 05:34:57 PDT 2009

Sumantra Nag wrote:

>  Thank you very much Charles. I've posted the relevant Weblink for the
>  text from Maugham as you may have seen, so you can see that whenever
>  you want to. Somerset Maugham was a visitor to Alexandria and
>  resident at the Cecil Hotel.

Thanks, Sumantra.  I did read the chapter when you sent it.  Very

My first reaction regards the manifest difference in vision that Maugham
and Durrell have in their fictional worlds. 

Maugham is clearly a moralist when contrasted with Durrell.   The 
contrast between Abraham's
decision to stay in Alex and the other doctor's decision to stay in
London is obviously playing up a contrast between values and

The narrator's last  quip about "a knight" underscores

>  "Of course it would be hypocritical for me to pretend that I regret
>  what Abraham did. After all, I've scored by it." He puffed
>  luxuriously at the long Corona he was smoking. "But if I weren't
>  personally concerned I should be sorry at the waste. It seems a
>  rotten thing that a man should make such a hash of life."
>  I wondered if Abraham really had made a hash of life. Is to do what
>  you most want, to live under the conditions that please you, in peace
>  with yourself, to make a hash of life; and is it success to be an
>  eminent surgeon with ten thousand a year and a beautiful wife? I
>  suppose it depends on what meaning you attach to life, the claim
>  which you acknowledge to society, and the claim of the individual.
>  But again I held my tongue, for who am I to argue with a knight?


Durrell would not have been that clear-cut.

What do you think?


Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu

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