To enhance your reading of the first part of the book, I prepared a glossary containing all the words that you could encounter more difficult, especially for those having English as a second language.
‘When male and female, after whatever vicissitudes you like, are at least brought together they have fulfilled their biological function…’(Maugham p.3)
Definition: In this context, the word vicissitude is used to talk about certain circumstances or events at different times in life.
‘Then my book, if it is read at all, will be read only for what intrinsic interest it may possess. (Maugham p.3)
Definition: The word intrinsic in this sentence means the nature of the interest of the book.
‘…so that instead of getting the colloquial effect he was after, is too often gives the English reader un uncomfortable jolt.’ (Maugham p.5)
Definition: Associated with informal conversation, ordinary.
‘His business connections with the impecunious great both in France and in England had secured the foothold he had obtained on his arrival in Europe as a young man…’ (Maugham p.5)
Definition: to be poor, or having little money.
‘People laughed at him behind his back and called him a filthy snob, but nevertheless accepted his invitation with alacrity.’ (Maugham p.10)
Definition: alacrity in this sentence means to accept the invitation with willingness.
‘The abbé spoke of the faith with wisdom and benignity; he was broad-minded, modern in his outlook, and tolerant.’ (Maugham p.11)
Definition: he spoke of faith with kindness.
‘…for when she sat down she sat very erect in a straight-backed chair which the cruel armor of her corsets doubtless made more comfortable than an upholstered one.’ (Maugham p.15)
Definition: chair of sofa that is being covered or stuffed.
‘She was so natural that she made Elliott, for all his elegance, look rather tawdry’ (Maugham p.17)
Definition: She made him look cheap.
‘it’s very strenuous of you to be here so bright and early’ (Maugham p.30)
Definition: strenuous in this sentence means energetic, active.
‘Mr. Maturin looked at his son while he said this and his shrewd eyes softened.
Definition: Mr. Maturin’s piercing eyes. (Maugham p.34)
‘…there isn’t a man who can be harder and more ruthless’ (Maugham p.35)
Definition: it means to have no pity or compassion.
‘Isabel smiled, for she knew how to preposterous her answer would seem to her mother.’ (Maugham p.38)
Definition: she knew how to change her answer completely to please her mother, so that it was free of common sense.
‘…after lingering interminably over our coffee, liqueurs, and cigars, returned to the drawing-room, I had a chance to speak to her.’ (Maugham p.41)
Definition: lingering in this sentence means to stay in place a long time, to be reluctant to leave.
‘Has was a fast driver and the speed at which he went exhilarated them both.’ (Maugham p.44)
Definition: means to be stimulated or cheerful.
‘Perhaps it’s only because I’m a conceited prig’ (Maugham p.47)
Definition: to be a prig means to demand precise conformity to others in an irritating way.
‘…it gives you the feeling that there you can think out your thoughts to the end without let or hindrance.’ (Maugham p.48)
Definition: In this sentence, it means to think out your thoughts without stopping, until the very end.
‘When he saw me he grinned’ (Maugham p.51)
Definition: to smile meaning that the person is amused or has pleasure.
‘Well I’m jiggered’ (Maugham p.51)
Definition: Jiggered means to be damned. It is informal.