Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to all of you, passionate readers! You are now entering a 100% student made blog where you will be able to get access to all the juicy details and analysis behind Somerset Maugham’s “The Razor’s Edge”. This Masterpiece of information has been created by seven passionate students; Alexane, Justine, Florence, Camille, Elizabeth, Mathieu & Evelyne who read the whole novel and analyzed every part of it thoroughly for your own pleasure and success.

During the upcoming weeks, you will have access to many articles discussing every part of the novel including summaries. Characters, glossaries and many other articles will be provided in different formats, all of them being user friendly.

We hope you enjoy. Feel free to comment on our posts!

Justine, Évelyne, Camille, Mathieu, Alexane & Élisabeth

Quiz (7)

Élisabeth Lacombe

Hi Readers ! So, for this very last part of the book, I decided to prepare a little quiz. The purpose of this blog post is just for you to have fun, and who knows, maybe prepare you for a future exam on the book….

Questions:

1- How was Sophie Macdonald’s body found?

2- How does the Maugham describe his relationship with Sophie to the policemen?

3- What are the assumptions made about Sophie’s murderer?

4- Why did Maugham want to go to Paris?

5- Isabel wanted to sell all of Elliot’s furniture except one thing, what?

6- How did Isabel know about Sophie’s death?

7- What is Isabel’s feeling about Sophie’s death?

8- Isabel sent Maugham a postcard for Christmas. From where is it posted?

9- To whom is Suzanne getting married?

10- Who buys Suzanne’s first painting?

 

Answers:

1: It has been fished out of the harbour, she was naked and her throat was cut.

2: He says that he knew her very little, that he knew her when she was a girl in Chicago, then he saw her a year ago through friends of hers and his.

3: The French police think it must be a sailor that already left the port, or a gangster that would have want to steal her money.

4: To talk with Isabel.

5: His modern picture of his house in Antibes.

6: Maugham told her.

7: She is glad she is dead.

8: Dallas.

9: Monsieur Achilles.

10: Maugham.

The Blogger Lifestyle

Camille Gaudreau

Hi guys ! As my last post here I wanted to have a little chat with you about my experience as a blogger. First thing first, you must know that I am not really the social media type. I am the type of girl who goes on hikes because she loves it, not because she wants to take a picture at the top of the hill, you know. I must admit that I really liked my experience, it is really fun to have feedbacks from you guys and to be able to share a passion with so many people. The negative side of my review on the subject is that I have no life, I basically go to school, then go to work, then go to the gym, then sleep and start all over again the next day……. and I try to plug my homework in somewhere. To me, a girl working 30 hours a week and being in class 27 hours a week, it was quite hard to keep up with all the work a blog needs. It isn’t just writing about what you like, it is also choosing the right pictures, proofreading and so on. All I want to say is that although finishing this blog is kind of liberating since it was for a school project, I will miss it.

Chapter Summary (7)

Alexane Drolet

In the chapter’s first line we learn that the police of the village wants to meet with Maugham. The author always had a good relationship with the law, so he wonders what is the reason of their visit. After a few seconds, we learn that the police is there to inform Maugham that a body has been found in the harbor and the police wants him to identify the body because they think it is Sophie MacDonald’s. Maugham takes the first train to go there and to identify the body in Toulon. When he arrives, he starts talking with the police officer about Sophie’s bad reputation. Maugham is not surprised to hear about this. The police is clearly wondering how could a respectable man like Maugham be linked to a girl like this. Maugham insists to tell him that he barely knew Sophie and that he only saw her once or twice in his life.

 

While speaking with the officer, Maugham learns that the body has been found by two fishermen and has already been identified by Sophie’s friend. Following his conversation with Maugham, the inspector wants to meet with Larry. They go together to the morgue to identify the body, and as soon as they see it, they have no doubt that it is Sophie’s. Maugham describes this experience as horrible and he says that he would rather not have seen this. Larry does not speak during the identification nor after. He is speechless. They both go to a small café but Larry does not drink at all. He is shocked. When Larry finally decides to talk to Maugham, he confesses one last time the love he had for Sophie and that she was the only woman he ever wanted to marry. He describes her as his ideal, which leads to Maugham to ask him why didn’t he marry her after all. Larry’s answer to this is pretty simple; for him, Sophie was a child. Maugham is wondering why Larry has not mentioned a word about Isabel yet. The author goes to the hotel with Larry and when they arrive, he leaves immediately.

 

After what has happened, Maugham really wants to see Isabel so he decides to go to Paris for 24 hours. He wants to have a conversation alone with Isabel and it is important for him that Gray would not be part of it. When Maugham arrives, he sees that he would be alone with Isabel. His main goal is to worm out the truth from her and to talk about what happened to Sophie. At first, Isabel is lying to Maugham, which starts to piss him off. Then, Isabel admits what really happened and clearly states that she was part of it. She is also very clear about the fact that she is happy about Sophie being dead and that she would do the same thing over again. Maugham tells Isabel that if she would have left Sophie alone, she would be alive right now. Isabel did not directly killed Sophie but she participated to the reason why her dead body ended up like  trash in the harbor. Isabel tells Maugham that she wants him to think that she is a good woman. Because of the author’s tenderness, he is not able to directly say to Isabel that she is not. He prefers to enumerate her qualities which makes Isabel very happy. Few months after his 24 hours trip to Paris, Maugham starts to miss Isabel. He could not talk to her as she is only using the phone and Maugham is only writing letters.

 

The author continues to see Suzanne Rouvier. She announces to Maugham that she will get married to Monsieur Achille soon. Her plan is to devote herself to her art, which is painting. She shows Maugham some landscapes she painted in the last years. From Maugham’s point of view, Suzanne’s painting is vaporous and unsubstantial, but it has a “flowerlike grace” and elegance, which he admires. He even buys one of her painting to encourage her. Suzanne is so happy about this sale. This is actually the first time she is selling one of her paintings.

 

The author finishes his novel with a brief description of Larry’s future. His main conclusion about the main character is that he has been absorbed into tumultuous interests and, therefore, he was kind of lost in the world’s confusion.

Why I Hate Isabel

Justine Cantin

Isabel is probably the worst character in The Razor’s Edge. Curious of finding out why? Read on! Not curious at all because you like Isabel? Read on because this might change your mind! Please feel free to give me your opinion in the comments, I’ll be glad to read different points of view.

For starters, Isabel is basically like Harry Potter: everybody likes her, but she doesn’t do much. She’s the typical housewife of the 1920’s: she dresses in expensive clothes, takes care of the kids, goes gossiping with her friends while her husband works or plays golf and has parties to pretend she is friends with people who are empty, making her empty as well. These meaningless parties give her a sense of pride and importance, just like her uncle Elliott.

Moreover, she’s selfish and such a snob. Here’s why:

  1. She refuses to marry Larry because she can’t live on $3000 a year. She wants to wear nice clothes and have parties.

  2. She likes being with Gray because she can be possessive over him. Maugham explicitly tells her on p. 165 “you’re feeling that you hold him in the hollow of that beautiful but not so small hand of yours. Larry would have always escaped you.” It is selfish of her to stay with him partly because she can control him.

  3. She also proves to be selfish when she pretends she has sacrificed herself to let Larry go. Maugham puts it in her face that she just let him go because she could not live a wealthy life, on p. 205, and she gets mad at this accusation. Do you know why she got mad? Because it. was. true. She’s so in denial of herself, and that shows a lack of maturity and introspection on her part. Whenever she receives a critique, she gets offended and she tries to prove others wrong, just like she did with Maugham when she looked at Gray with tenderness, sticking her tongue at Maugham right after as if she proved him wrong.

 

In addition, she’s evil! Have you ever killed your so-called crush’s fiancée because you thought they were better off without them? Well, Isabel has. If she really loved Larry, she would let him be with Sophie because she would know that it would make him happy. It’s also selfish, needless to say…

…Okay, maybe she didn’t directly kill Sophie, but she is the cause of how she ended up in a trashy place and turned out to be killed! Had she MINDED HER OWN BUSINESS and let Sophie marry Larry, making them both happy, Sophie would not have ended up the way she did.

She also feels entitled to Larry and to their friendship. When Maugham tells her that Larry had a meaningless affair with Suzanne, Isabel refuses to believe it, claiming she “knows all about Larry’s sex life”. As if! In addition, she even asked Maugham a while back if he thought Larry was a virgin. Well, if she really did know all about his sex life, would she have asked that question? I don’t think so.

She makes me think of the Kardashians: useless, empty and irrelevant to this world.

Character Analysis (6)

Élisabeth Lacombe

First thing first, it is important to know that the narrator warns us that we may skip this part of the book. In fact, the whole chapter is about Larry’s life. This said, there is not much to say about other characters than Larry so here is what we get to know about him.

Isabel: She inherited of Elliott’s money.

Gray: He regained some health and is impatient to go back to America.

Larry: Maugham and Larry run into each other by chance, and once again, we get to know a little more about his life. In fact, he opens up to Maugham and tells him about his life in Germany and his time in Alsace. During this chapter, we get to understand that Larry traveled a lot, aiming to find the answers to his questions, but from a place to another, he never concretely does until he gets to India. He becomes a disciple of the saint Shri Ganesha, who turns out to be the Yogi introduced when he first gets reunited with Isabel, Gray and Maugham. By his side, Larry learns what he practices with Gray. By the end of the conversation,  he also tells Maugham his plan to settle down in New york, to become a taxi driver and to fulfill his need for knowledge in libraries. Through his anecdotes, we get to understand the importance of philosophy and religion in Larry’s life, which helps us to better understand his personality.

The Book in Theater

Florence Pageau

The original version of the novel was first released in 1944 and has inspired only two movies since then. The first movie was distributed by 20th Century Fox in 1946 and had a big cast and success considering that the movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, with Anne Baxter winning Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Even with the success surrounding the first version that is now hard to find considering the years that have passed. The producer Darryl F. Zanuck, who was a famous American film producer and studio executive, only inspired one other movie almost 40 years later, in 1984, starring the famous Bill Murray. The failure of the second movie explains why no new version has been made recently. The film collected only $6 millions at the box office which is half of the $12 millions invested into the production. All important critics considered the movie too long, slow and overproduced. Even the main character and famous actor Bill Murray was criticized for his role and considered a few year later that the movie as a “mistake”.

That is all we can analyze about the movie adaptation of the Razor’s Edge since the book that inspired a major “flop” now scares the producers. There is no updated version planned to be released in the upcoming year of the movie of William Somerset Maugham’s book.
In this case, even if I adore movies I would recommend to read the book only and not to destroy your opinion of it by watching a bad movie.

Why I Want to Go to Paris

Alexane Drolet

One of the themes of The Razor’s Edge is travelling. The characters, especially Maugham, are travelling a lot. One thing I liked the most while reading this book is the fact that all of the references mentioned by the author are real and refer to beautiful places in France. Since I read the book, I want to discover Paris so much! As you probably noticed while reading the book or on our blog, there are a lot of references about Paris and about the best spots of this city. Indeed, our team searched almost all of the references mentioned in the book. The research we did really made me want to discover Paris and to travel there. I learned a lot of thing about this amazing city and I would love to go to the coffee shops or to the beautiful streets Maugham talked about in his book. Indeed, all of the places the author referred to in his book exist in real life. I feel like this book could be placed in the “tourism” category in the libraries. You know, the books that are written only to help you discover new things before travelling to certain places? Well, I feel like The Razor’s Edge is one of these books which incorporated a story to its presentation of Paris.
I am curious. Did you have the same feeling while reading the book? I definitely think we should book the next flight for Paris!

Book Appreciation (6)

Camille Gaudreau

Hi guys!

I hope you had as much fun reading the book up to now as I did! I normally hate my school’s readings, and when I say hate, I really mean it.  This one has been a little different to me because I find that there is a lot of action taking place.The author gives an insight on all the major character’s lives which makes the book very drama-oriented. Most girls will admit loving being the spectator of that type of drama, which makes the reading so entertaining and fun.

I also like that it makes the reader discover all the places that are mentioned in the book, which are all real, as well as the artists, the shops and so on. Therefore, I invite you to go take a look at our reference sections, which will help you to imagine the scenes in your head since you will see that all the real places. It makes the story so realistic that it adds a whole other dimension to the novel. You can just click on the link below and it will bring you to our first reference section which is the biggest one. 🙂

https://razorsedgeslc.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/secondary-sources/

Moreover, I really appreciate that we get to analyze all the characters in their complexity since, we must admit, they are all very complex. It is very fun to see how they change throughout the novel. What I love the most about the sixth part is that we really get to understand Larry’s life and especially the part of his life that was kept very mysterious until then. At first, I thought that he was very mature about the whole situation involving Isabel and reading his life path made me understand why he was so mature about this situation.

Overall, I definitely invite you to continue your reading (even though we are nice people who summarize everything for you!) because you will see that it is way more fun than regular school books. If my appreciation review of the book did not convince you, or that you feel like you do not have the time to read it (which I can totally relate to), you can still look at our blog posts that will help you to understand the book because it is very complete and it covers many angles your teacher could challenge you on.

References (6)

Justine Cantin

We meet again!

This week I will be covering all the references that are made in the book for Part 6. Since there are so many, I have divided the references in three parts: places, things and people. There are about 80 references in total in this part, so I will not describe them all since some of them have already been covered in past parts. I will be explaining the most important ones, so anything that has to do with India, spirituality, Germany and artists will be covered. Sit tight because there is a long and fun list coming at you and you’re not ready!

 

Places

The Himalayas are home to some of the highest peaks on Earth such as mount Everest and K2. The Himalayas draw the line between Nepal and India. The Himalayan mountains are home to more than 50 peaks exceeding a height of 7200 meters. Wow!

Bonn is a city in the West of Germany, lodging along the Rhine River.

Heidelberg is a town in the Southwest of Germany.

The Rhine River is a river that goes through Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein and that ends in Netherlands. It is a famous river because it is used to carry many exported goods into the deep inland. The Rhine also drew the inland frontier in the Roman Empire.

Alsace is a region along the Rhine that is close to the border of France, Germany and Switzerland.

Seville is the capital of the Andalusian region in Spain. It is famous for its flamenco dancing.

Càdiz is a city in the Andalusian region of Spain, just like Seville. It used to be a port city, built on land surrounded by water.

Bombay, also known as Mumbai, is India’s Economic capital and largest city.
The Elephanta Caves are a major touristic attraction in India. Located on Elephanta Island, these caves are home to great sculptures of the Hindu gods, such as Shiva and Shaiva.Stitched Panorama

Alexandria is an egyptian port city, linking the Mediterranean to Africa.

The Ganges River is the most sacred river for the Hindu people, in India. It is the equivalent of the Mecca for the Muslims. There are more than one thousand temples situated on this river. People bathe themselves in it in the morning, while others are incinerated and have their ashes thrown in this same river.

Oxford is a city in the Southeast of England. It is home to the world renown University of Oxford, ranked higher or runner-up to Harvard University depending on the year and study fields.

Bristol is an English city located to the west of London. Like many cities mentioned above, Bristol is a port city with a lot of maritime history. My feeling is that, in the time the books was written, a major way of transportation for people and merchandise was by boat. This is why so many port cities are mentioned.

Westminster is an area of London, famous for its parliament and church: the Westminster Palace and Abbey, respectively. Its is also where Buckingham Palace is located. This city has a large political influence and importance since the residence of the Queen is there. This is also where coronation takes place, in the Westminster Abbey. In the Palace of Westminster are found the House of Commons as well as the House of Lords, both houses of the UK parliament.

New England is a former British colony that has now become a region in the United States, hence the name of New England. Located in the northeast of the country, New England is a territory covering states such as New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Its largest city is Boston, MA.
The Mississippi River is the second largest drainage outlet in North America, with an average flow of about 16 700 m3/s. In the book, Maugham refers to it when he tries to explain to Larry the amplitude of the task Larry has put in front of himself: to give up all of his money and live the rest of his life without it. He compares this as trying to stop the Mississippi river flowing with his own hands.

 

Things

Fragonard’s Drawing (Nymph Aside a Satyr)

Nymph

Bérénice, by Jean Racine, is a play about the dilemma of Titus, who has to choose between his love for Bérénice and his duty to be the head of Rome.

Houdon’s Voltaire is a sculpture of the famous philosopher Voltaire made by Jean Antoine Houdon. It is currently exposed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.  

Flamenco is a dance native from Andalusia in Spain. The dance includes singing, guitar playing, dancing, finger snapping, hand clapping and vocalization. It is best known for its extravagant costumes and the emotions that are strongly lived through the dance.

The Ultimate reality is the way the Gods of certain religions are perceived to be. It is a very hard concept to define, since all religions are different and this subject is being debated in many philosophical texts.

Brahminism is derived from Brahmins, which are a class of priests and teachers in Hindu religion. Brahminism is the domination the Indian society has towards the Brahmins.

The Oxford Book of English Verse is a compilation of English poetry written from 1250 to 1900, edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch. This book had a massive influence on taste and on the perception of poetry for a long time. You can find it on Amazon.com if you are interested in reading it!

Hindustani is the classical musical style of North India. It is also a language spoken in this same region, covering the North of India and Pakistan.

Neoplatonism is a modern term for a tradition in philosophy that appeared in the third century (200-300 CE). It was greatly influenced by Plato, hence the name. This era ended after the Platonic Academy closed in 529 CE.
Russian Tea is the national beverage in Russia. Over there, tea has a great importance since the tea culture is very rich and developed. It is also famous for the introduction of the Samovar, traditional container in which the tea is served.

Samovar.silver.jpg

Le cimetière Marin is a poem published by Paul Valéry in 1920. It is Valéry’s most famous work.

Ashrama is the name given to one of  four age-based life stages of ancient and medieval Indian texts. The stages are

  1. Brahmacharya: Student life, 0-24
  2. Grihastha, household life, 24-48
  3. Vanaprastha, retired life, 48-72
  4. Sannyasa, renounced life, 72+

People

Jean Racine, often referred to as Racine in the book, was a highly influential writer in the 17th century. His work mostly revolved around writing plays, such as Alexandre le Grand and Bérénice.

A Benedictine Monk is a monk abiding to the Saint-Benedict order. It is a religious order of independent monasteries.

Baruch Spinoza, Plato and René Descartes are all philosophers.

Aeschylus is a Greek tragedian, known to be the father of tragedy.

Jonathan Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller and Heinrich Heine are all German poets and writers.

Brahma, Vishnu, Siva are all three Hindu gods, that form the Trimurti, which is the supreme divinity for the Hindus. They represent creation, maintenance and destruction.   

 

The_Hindu_Gods_Vishnu,_Shiva,_and_Brahma_LACMA_M.86.337_(8_of_12).jpg

Sebastian Cabot is an English TV and movie actor. He is best known for his role as Uncle Bill in the sitcom Family Affair.

Shri Ganesha is one of the best known and worshipped deities of Hinduism. He is easy to recognize, thanks to his elephant head.

Marco Polo is an Italian merchant explorer who wrote a book about the wealth of China and Asia.

The Tamil people is an ethnic group that speaks Tamil and that are located in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.

The Sufis are people who believe in sufism which is Islamic mysticism.
The Mayas are people from an ancient civilization from Peru. They are the first ones to have introduced writing in South America.That’s enough for today!

Themes (6)

Evelyne Richard

Hi readers!

Here is an analysis of the main themes presented in Part 6 of the novel, which is a long conversation between Maugham and Larry, who does most of the talking. Thus, the themes I chose, although they are present throughout the book, will focus on Larry.  

Liberty

During his long speech, Larry retells his adventures from the past years. Before it all started, he had the chance to settle down and to marry Isabel, but he drifted away from this possibility because he did not want to compromise his liberty. As he travels, he is not capable to stay at a particular place that he can call home. He goes from places to places and as soon as he is bored or that he feels that he has spent enough time there, he takes off to another destination. In this way, he can keep his liberty since he maintains no significant connection to any location. Moreover, since he is constantly going from one place to the other, he develops ephemeral relationships, such as the one he had with Suzanne Rouvier. These relationships are not of lesser significance just because of that, but the fact that they do not last prevents Larry from being strongly linked to someone to the point where his liberty would be compromised. In fact, the only person to whom he expresses the desire to build a stronger bond is Sophie Macdonald, who has a lifestyle that would not interfere with his. Furthermore, on page 252, Larry says: “I loved flying. I couldn’t describe the feeling it gave me.” His old memory of flying represents the liberty he is now seeking and preserving.

Faith

Most of what Larry talks about in Part 6 is related to faith, which is ironic since he does not seem to have any. The main reason why he does not have faith in any particular religion is because he does not believe in it. He says, “It’s as though they [founders of religion] needed your faith to have faith in themselves” (Maugham 269). Nevertheless, in his quest for purpose, he is trying to find an answer in faith. First, he tries to develop faith in God and in the Church as he spends three months with the monks. At the end of his journey, he tells the Father, “I’m afraid I’ve been a disappointment to you, Father” (Maugham 256). Larry feels that he has failed to gain faith in God, which would mean that he is not moving forward in his quest for faith. Nevertheless, the Father answers, “No,’ (…). ‘You are a deeply religious man who doesn’t believe in God. God will seek you out. You’ll come back. Whether here or elsewhere only God can tell.’” Indeed, the Father was, in a certain point of view, right to say that. Larry could not find nor develop faith in God within himself, but that does not mean that he cannot have faith in something else. Later on, during his trip to India, he sees thousands of people bathing and praying in the Ganges and he becomes fascinated by their faith in their religion. A few years later, when he is still in India, he spends time in the company of Shri Ganesha, a yogi. He explains that during his journey, he finally reaches illumination, although he never mentions the word. This experience does not give him faith in religion as much as it restores his faith in life, since he found many of the answers to his questions.

Relationships

In the book, Larry has a relationship with four women that we get to know about: Isabel, Suzanne Rouvier, the Spanish young girl and Sophie Macdonald. Besides Isabel, the other three women have very similar characteristics. Indeed, they are all in a very vulnerable state when they start to go out with Larry and they live a particular lifestyle. When he meets her, Suzanne is sick, poor and miserable. Larry made it his duty to save her and he took care of her until she was better. Before he met her, she was going from painter to painter and she never had a stable life. The Spanish young girl who is discussed in Part 6 is also very vulnerable since she was kicked out from her hometown at 18 years old because she was pregnant. Only a few days after they met, Larry and her start living together, but she leaves him as soon as she has the chance to return to her boyfriend. Finally, he asks Sophie Macdonald to marry him just a few weeks after he sees her in the bar. Before he came back into her life, she was addicted to drugs, alcohol and sex. One similarity between these three relationships is that they could not last very long. Larry chooses women who, he knows, will not be capable to commit themselves to their relationship. He gets with women who will either leave him when they are done with him, like the Spanish young girl and Sophie, or whom he can leave whenever he wants to, like Suzanne.